Academic Teams Achieve Success

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Angela Ciarochi, Malina Gavris, and Anna Jepson

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Recently, some of the most prestigious clubs at MLWGS have obtained massive wins at their respective competitions.

Starting off the school’s winning streak, the forensics club seized many top spots at the NCFL state championship. Three students will advance to the national championship that will be held in Washington, D.C. this May. In the club, students practice and compete the skills of public speaking and debate. They choose their own pieces to present, some of which include poetry, social or political commentary, dramatic interpretation, and original speeches. A student’s presentation can be either informative or persuasive, depending on what category they are competing in. Among the team’s national qualifiers are Keriann Slayton (‘21), who placed second in the topic of declamation, and Larry Jia (‘19) and Joey Mistretta (‘19), who placed second and third in extemporaneous speaking. Emily Ma (‘18) also had a great presentation, placing sixth in the category of original oratory. The club was extremely excited with their results. Keriann Slayton (‘21) commented “Mrs. Cross was so excited when the awards were announced that she was jumping out of her seat!” When they are not focused on the intense competition, the club has a lot of fun spending time together. Slayton stated that the “overall camaraderie of the team in between rounds was great; we played games and hung out and it was a lot of fun.”

The Maggie Walker Quizbowl team also had an exciting win this season, coming in first place at the recent VHSL Scholastic Bowl, making this the second year in a row that they have won the state title. Overall the team is one of the oldest and most successful clubs in the school, having won four Quizbowl National Championships and the first History Bowl Nationals. The students on this year’s state team who secured the win were Catherine Qian (‘18), Anuj Kotak (‘18), Kelin Carpenter (‘18), Owen Peck (‘18), and Alex Dietrich (‘20). On top of this, Qian received an additional award, being promoted to the the All-State team after placing among the competition’s top five scorers. In the competition, two four-person teams compete to answer questions about history, literature, science, fine arts, current events, popular culture, sports, and more. During tossups, individuals can buzz in to answer the question presented. If the tossup is answered correctly, the team receives the opportunity to answer a three-part bonus question that they can confer on. The team with the most points at the end of the match wins. Catherine Qian (‘18) revealed that the team put in a huge amount of work to prepare for the competition, practicing every day during lunch and once a week after school. Qian understands how it is easy to see quizbowl as a useless and tireless memorization of facts, but believes that the club can and should be so much more. She explained, “I often find it difficult to articulate to people the true value of Quizbowl—that Quizbowl takes you out of your sheltered education with a broad canon that is still full of culturally/historically significant things, things that aren’t necessarily covered in a standard high school curriculum, things of which you should, but maybe never would have heard.”

On the weekend of March 3rd, Maggie Walker’s robotics team, the Mech Tech Dragons, competed at the Chesapeake District Regional Competition. Located at Battlefield High School, the team engaged in several robotics activities along with other local high school teams. The team swept the competition, earning three different awards: Chesapeake District Northern Virginia Champions, UL Industrial Safety Award Winners and Chairman’s Awards Winners. In order to win the events, the different sub teams use their robot to play against other teams’ robots. The goal is for the robot to complete a task, ensuring that the machine does not malfunction. The Mech Tech’s Outreach team, including junior Som Mohapatra (‘19), won one of the most prestigious awards of the competition: the Chairman’s Award. Mohapatra explains how the team had to write an essay on their impact on the Richmond community and give a 7 minute presentation, with 5 minutes reserved for questions. The Mech Tech Dragons’ hard work, long hours and team-building aided in this overall successful weekend, bringing home three major awards.

The final big win went to the Debate Team, which won the State Debate Championship hosted by the VCFL. Anisha Sharma (`18) and Andrew Shin (`18) finished in 2nd place in the category of Public Forum Debate. Grady Trexler (`19) earned first place in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate while Noah Ratliff came in third (`20). Trexler summarized the team’s excitement by saying “For the team, I know it felt awesome to win overall. We go against really big public schools and I believe some private schools, so it feels good to win overall.” The team’s win allowed them to qualify for the National Debate Championship which will be held in Washington D.C. at the end of May. The debate team will face off with students from around the country in difficult and fast paced debates that are intimidating for even the most well versed public speakers.

It is so inspiring to see Trexler has grown so much since joining the team. Debate became a part of his life freshman year when he decided the concept seemed “pretty fun.” “I joined freshman year because I thought I would enjoy exploring the topics. I also enjoy the competition with other debaters.” Unfortunately, he didn’t place at all last year, but that only inspired him to work harder, leading to his fantastic win. His debate story is just one out of the rest of his talented team members.

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