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BHS students take on World Quest Competiton

Four students from Biddeford High School compete in a state-wide competition battling world knowledge.

Meg Friel, Editor in Chief

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In a battle of the brains competition, four Biddeford High School students set out to prove that even underdogs can come out on top.

This Wednesday, March 1st, four Biddeford High School students attended the World Quest Competition at Unum in Portland, held by the World Affairs Council of Maine. This is Biddeford’s first time competing. The four students; sophomore Olivia Whittaker, sophomore Maggie Behen, senior Jacob Bilsky, and senior Colby Perron, were all elected by social studies teachers Mr. Reddy and Mr. Minzy. The two also attended the event as advisors.

“There’s this World Quest competition, where you can send a team of four students for free,” said Reddy. “So, I talked to Mr. Minzy, because Mr. Minzy and I both supervise the Model United Nations team, and this team was kind of along the same lines of finding students with that same interest of global affairs.”

The competition consists of trivia questions based off of six categories: geography, combating infectious disease, European Union, countering violent extremism, China, and current events.

Familiar with the World Affairs Council of Maine, Minzy felt confident in his choices to represent Biddeford in the competition. Being that the competition shared similar required knowledge to that of Model UN conferences, Minzy felt his attention be best focused on students involved with Model UN.

“They [the World Affairs Council of Maine] sponsor the Model UN conference at USM,” said Minzy.  “So, I’ve heard about ‘The World Affairs Council of Maine. I thought of people that knew their stuff. Pretty much, we thought of Model UN people. They’re already up on world affairs, and if you look at the categories, it’s stuff that they would know about. I just thought of people who were smart, could answer quickly, and weren’t going to flake out.”

Another thing that weighed in on Minzy and Reddy’s decisions was the matter of trust; trust that, although neither the advisors nor students had been to this competition before, they’d be able to compete no matter what be thrown at them.

“One of the things that happens when we start these things is, we don’t know what the hell we’re doing,” said Minzy. “It was like, ‘Hey, we don’t know what’s going on, can we put together some students who are willing to kind of roll with us on this adventure?’ We’ve never been, so we can’t tell them what’s going on. They don’t know what’s going to go on, they don’t know how this is going to work, but they trust the fact that they’re pretty good.”

Motivation to win stems from tiger pride, confidence in their team’s intelligence, and one tempting prize. Not only do winners receive trophies, but also bragging rights, as well as a title over last year’s winners, Biddeford’s long standing rival, Thornton Academy.

“The thing that motivated me was that they have a picture of last year’s winner that are from Thornton Academy, so we should go try to take that trophy from them,” Reddy said.

This competitive instinct runs deep for Minzy, seeing as how the two schools have repeatedly gone head to head at Model UN conferences. Winning this title would mean more than just a trophy for Minzy, but an end-all to the age-old rivalry in the battle of the brains between Biddeford and TA.

“We actually did a Model UN Conference with just Biddeford and TA, and one, if not two, of those people [the TA 2016 World Quest Competition winners] were at the Model UN conference,” said Minzy. “So, it’s their Model UN team too. They were very good, and they were very talented kids, however, I did not think they were smarter than us, or better than us. If that’s the best in the state, then we’re the best in the state too.”

However, Whittaker doesn’t feel as focused on beating TA, but simply being able to express her interest for these subjects, and show off what she knows best.

Sophomore Olivia Whittaker

Mr. Reddy picked us [Whittaker and Behen],” said Whittaker. “I think [we were asked to compete] because we know a lot about the subject and we’re really involved with the class discussions. We’re really interested in the subjects at hand. I was really excited. Like, ‘Oh my gosh, I get to represent the school for this competition.’ It’ll be a new experience.

Mr. Reddy picked us [Whittaker and Behen],” said Whittaker. “I think [we were asked to compete] because we know a lot about the subject and we’re really involved with the class discussions. We’re really interested in the subjects at hand. I was really excited. Like, ‘Oh my gosh, I get to represent the school for this competition.’ It’ll be a new experience.”

— Olivia Whittaker

Even if the team doesn’t come out on top, Reddy believes the experience of being at the competition is beneficial enough to the students involved, as well as the advisors.

“I think this will end up getting them [the chosen students] in touch with this organization, ‘The World Affairs Council of Maine,’” said Reddy. “I would like to be in touch with this group more as well, because I think it would help the Model UN team, and I also think it would help the social studies department at large, as well as teaching world history and world geography.”

With preparation for the competition weeks in the making, the team feels confident in what they have to bring for the table, and hope to bring back trophies. Good luck to all, and may the best team win!

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The student news site of Biddeford High School in Biddeford, Maine
BHS students take on World Quest Competiton