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Trojans Qualify for National Geography Competition

The Thornton Academy Academic WorldQuest team has once again qualified to participate in the National Academic WorldQuest (AWQ) competition. Academic WorldQuest is a fun, fast-paced team competition for high school students that tests players’ knowledge of current international politics, geography, global economics, history, and world cultures.

Stefania Grobelna ’21 (Rozalin, Poland), Tenley Murphy ’21 (Saco), Taylor Nelson ’22 (Saco) and Shun ‘Kevin’ Yao (Shanghai, China) made up the winning team which finished 11 points ahead of the second place team. The regional competition, sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Maine, included schools from Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Their victory secured them a spot in the national competition to be held Saturday, April 17.

“Competing in this year’s AWQ regionals was very different than in the past years — besides the regular stress related to the competition, we were also concerned about the technology. Thankfully everything turned out well and all the issues we encountered were resolved promptly. We’re currently preparing to compete in the national contest and are very excited for it!” Grobelna said. 

This is the third time that a Thornton Academy team has qualified for the National competition of Academic WorldQuest. The previous teams placed 8th in the nation in 2016 and 4th in the nation in 2018. This year the team has hopes to finish near the top again. 

The team is coached by Thornton Academy teachers Mike Nelson and Tom Rackmales. Nelson teaches AP Human Geography, a course that focuses on migration, population, economics and global affairs. Grobelna, Murphy, Nelson and Yao have all taken the course and credit the class and their teachers for helping them to prepare. Nelson and Rackmales work with the students outside of class to prepare them for the specific style of questions that appear during the AWQ competition.   

“COVID-19 posed lots of problems for the kids this year, but I have been very impressed with their dedication to and preparation for the competition,” Nelson said.  

For the 2021-2022 academic year, Thornton Academy will expand their humanities offerings to include a specific WorldQuest class, one of the only high schools in the nation to offer this specialized geography class.