Saipan International School romped off with the top prize at the 11th Annual Academic Challenge Bowl for middle schools on Saturday, defeating other teams from private and public schools during the competition at Saipan Southern High School's Manta Ray Café.
A total of six schools entered five-member teams for the competition. SIS got the highest points over finalists Mount Carmel School and Hopwood Junior High School, which placed second and third, respectively.
The champion team was composed of 8th graders Cerinn Hwang, Emily Jones, Stephanie Lee, Liza Atalig, and sixth grader Eric Kiser, the youngest and only male member. The group's coaches were Marifi Doculan-Ayeras and Michael Gardner.
According to Doculan-Ayeras, this was the first time for SIS to bag the championship. Despite having only a week to prepare, the team's solid educational foundation helped in their success, she added.
“Elated! Even the parents knew how they worked hard.and we're very proud!” Doculan-Ayeras told Saipan Tribune after the awarding rites.
The SSHS chapter of the National Honor Society hosted the annual Academic Challenge Bowl for the junior high school division.
The competition featured 140 questions dealing with subjects such as math, science, computer, art, English, social studies, current events, and physical education. Seventy of the questions were classified as easy; 35 were of medium category; and 35 questions were considered hard.
Other participating team in this year's contest were Grace Christian Academy, Marianas Baptist Academy, and Chacha Oceanview Junior High School.
Cerinn Hwang, who has been joining the academic challenge since her fourth grade, felt very accomplished after receiving the championship award. “It really feels good to win,” she said.
Eric Kiser said the team's cooperation and teamwork spelled success for SIS this year. Though he didn't expect the team to win, Kiser said the team deserves the honor for all the hard work it put in to prepare for the competition.
Despite their short preparation for this year's contest, Emily Jones, Stephanie Lee, and Liza Atalig said the SIS team exhibited excellent communication and teamwork. Of all the categories, the current events category, which included CNMI history, was among the most difficult they encountered, they said, because this is not part of their school curriculum.
SSHS National Honor Society president Roman Tudela told Saipan Tribune that this year's competition was another success despite the decline in the number of participants. Tudela said that budget constraints prevented Tinian and Rota from participating.
Throughout the three-hour competition, NHS also held raffle drawings, courtesy of the competition's donors.