Photo by Morgan Browning
Academic World Quest is a program sponsored by the International Relations Counsel. The program encourages high school kids to get involved in international relations and global issues through a competition. Teams from different schools compete in groups of four in ten different categories such as Global Warming, Food Deserts, Migration, Country Focus and Current Events. Most major cities have an Academic World Quest chapter. Local competitions are held once each year, in March. Winners of the local competitions move on to compete at the national level in Washington D.C. in April of each year.
Brenda Fishman, Academic World Quest sponsor, sponsors two juniors and two seniors each year to compete on behalf of East. At the beginning of each year, juniors interested in the program can sign-up with Fishman. Then, Fishman holds a “test-off”. The top two scorers represent East along with two seniors. This year, seniors Morgan Biles and Coleman Brockmeier will compete along with two juniors who have yet to be chosen.
“It’s a very good opportunity to think on a global scale,” Fishman said. “But students have to understand that they will have to do a lot of outside work and research. The success of the team relies on how much work each individual student puts in before the competition.”
The team meets weekly from November to March to practice. The teams are notified of the topics for the competition in November. The team typically splits the topics to study by person, so that they can “divide and conquer” when it comes to the competition. Teams then study using the book, Great Decisions, and recommended websites.
“The thing I enjoy most about Academic World Quest is being knowledgeable about worldwide current events and getting a chance to compete with people who feel the same way,” Brockmeier said.
In past years, East has placed well, making it to the national competition twice, once in 2008 and once in 2012.
“Last year we got 4th out of 30 teams [at the local competition] which was pretty disappointing because we had hoped to be better,” Biles said. “It’s hard to judge how we will do this year because we don’t know who the juniors are, but obviously we would like to get 1st place and get a free trip to D.C. for the national competition.”
As for the incoming juniors, Brockmeier is optimistic.
“We’re looking for someone who enjoys current events and the team camaraderie that comes with it,” Brockmeier said.