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El Cap looking for national title in D.C. WorldQuest

On March 2, El Capitan High School hosted The San Diego World Affairs Council Annual Academic WorldQuest Competition. The competition is a fun, fast-paced team competition for high school students that tests the players’ knowledge of current international politics, geography, global economics, history, and world cultures. Always considered the underdogs in the competition, the El Capitan team won the competition this year by one point, beating long-time local winners from Canyon Crest High School. Now, the team is looking to get themselves to Washington D.C. to represent San Diego in the National Academic WorldQuest Competition, sponsored by the World Affairs Councils of America in April.

The El Capitan High School Academic WorldQuest winning team was Amanda Ta, Peter Tarpley, Noah Seeno, and Miranda Cambell Vargas. Their Student Advisor is AP History teacher Abigail Anders.

Anders teaches Social Sciences, (history and geography), and has been a teacher at El Capitan for 25 years. She said the school has participated in WorldQuest competitions six times.

“It has always been the same school from North County that wins,” she said. “We kind of never thought that we would be winning. We go into the competition because it is fun, and the kids love to discuss these world events. They are bright kids who are interested in their world.”

Anders said winning by one point was “awesome,” but the problem now is that the students are expected in D.C. in one month, and they are trying to figure out how to work it out to get them there, but they are determined to get there. The competition is April 20.

“The World Affairs Council has been amazing,’ she said. “The competition is basically kind of a trivia competition that students compete in to show off their general knowledge of foreign affairs. All the super international organizations, there are questions about NATO, the Economic Community of West African States, and the different alliances that the U.S. has around the world, and the diplomatic understanding of how to solve problems as they arise. And why it is that there is tension in different areas around the world.”

Anders said they look at topics, and each year the topics are different. This year, topics included the NATO alliance, changing world demographic dividends, population shifts in Africa, the global south, sports and diplomacy, South Korea, the country in focus, promoting a green Europe, women’s contributions to track diplomacy, navigating artificial intelligence in the global workforce, and current events as they are happening as they relate to all these topics.

“The topics are really hard,” she said. “We do not do as much as the schools in north county because our kids are very active in after school sports. It is not like we have a lot of time to train for this. We get practice questions from the World Council and a study guide, but the study guide is massive. It is not the basic writings for kids in high school.”

Anders said the club meets once a week, and the students are in charge, and each has different officer roles.

“They try to read an article a week, they come into the club, create a slideshow, and present it,” she said. “They are teaching each other about what they are learning, then discussing it. So, we do not have a lot of time to prepare. Some of the other schools that participate run it like a course multiple times during the week. That is why we are considered the underdog.”

Anderson said it is more difficult as a Lakeside school, as most students are generally more disadvantaged than north county schools and need support.

“Taking two days off for a three-day trip is a big ask for our families,” she said. “I think that the Lakeside schools are so phenomenal. Many kids are part of the ECHS Global Language & Leadership Program.

“Having a global mindset is why I do it,” she said. “This is more than just these kids. It is any kid that is interested in foreign affairs. We have two teams, and the other team did extremely well this year. They have a general liking for how the world happens. They are not getting credit for courses. They are doing this just to have a better understanding of the world. I am so proud of them. And the students were so excited.”

Anders said this is the second year that El Capitan has hosted WorldQuest, and that the students and audience went excitedly wild when El Capitan was announced as the winner.

Amanda Ta, a senior, serves as vice-president of student-led nonprofit organization The Ground Up Project where she established and maintains their website to increase awareness of ongoing community clothing, food, and toy drives (the¬ and has helped facilitate distributions totaling over 1,900+ pounds of supplies and donatable items to various charities and organizations, including a partnership with a second student-led humanitarian project to send menstrual products to refugee camps in Bangladesh. She is also an active participant in the ECHS Art Club and Book Club.

Noah Seeno, a sophomore, is a member of El Capitan Robotics Club, the ECHS International Club, the Student Senate, the JustServe volunteering club and the Staump Music School Advanced Rock Band. He actively volunteers with Balboa Park’s House of China and at Alpine Community Center in addition to his involvement in the GLLP program.

Peter Tarpley is a junior and serves as the Captain of Team A in the ECHS VEX Robotics Club and Ambassador in the Student Exchange Program. He volunteers in day camps at the Salvation Army Kroc Center, serves in the Student Site Council, an AV technician at his local church, and a GLLP leader in addition to his pursuits in Varsity tennis and piano practice.

Miranda Cambell Vargas, a sophomore, is a member of the Beach Cleanup Club, the Student Exchange Program, the Junior Dance Company (proudly accumulating over nine years dance experience), with additional hobbies including her involvement in the Varsity Golf program.

To support the El Capitan team going to the WorldQuest national competition, visit the following link and mark “AWQ sponsorship” in the comment section.

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