Four PA Seniors Take First Place at National Economics Challenge in NYC

Seniors Kwon-Yong Jin, James Foster, Ben Elder and Tiffany Li buzzed their way to victory, defeating over 2,000 teams from across the country at the 2009 National Economics Challenge last weekend. The Andover team traveled to New York City to compete in the challenge for the first time. They returned to campus as first-place winners, awarded with $3,000 in treasury bonds for each competitor and coach, plus medals and a trophy. A total of 34 states and over 8,000 students participated in the contest, hosted by the Goldman Sachs Foundation ad the Council for Economic Education. The contest is spilt into two divisions: the Adam Smith division, for students who have taken Advanced Placement or honors economics courses, and the David Ricardo division, for non-AP economics students. Jin, Foster, Elder and Li competed in the Adam Smith division. “Andover does not offer a pre-AP level economics course, so students who take econ at PA must participate in the Adam Smith division,” said Jin. “The Adam Smith division overall is more difficult than David Ricardo division, although there is some overlap,” he continued. The competition takes place over two days. On the first day, the team’s economic knowledge was tested through a multiple-choice quiz. On day two, the four contestants answered questions orally in a buzzer round, held in New York City’s Scholastic Auditorium. Jin said that, “On Sunday, we took the three multiple choice tests, after which we walked around New York. On Monday during lunch, they announced the top two teams, and we then participated in the quiz bowl round shortly thereafter.” Elder said that the team felt that the multiple-choice questions were considerably more difficult than they had anticipated. Elder said, “The testing round was much harder than we expected, but to our surprise we had the best score in each round, putting us easily into first place after day one.” The Andover team faced a tough second day of competition when they were tied with the Iolani School from Hawaii. Iolani won the National Economics Challenge in 2007. “With two questions left, we were tied. The other team [Iolani] got the next question, so we were down by one with one question remaining,” said Jin. Elder said, “After 29 out of thirty questions we were down by one point. We won the next point and then the tiebreaker for the win.” Jin described the tiebreaker as “a very tense moment.” Despite the team’s success this year, the Seniors are worried about next year’s competition, as the entire team will be graduating this June. Jin said, “I hope PA’s participation in economics contests continues, but we are not certain. Hopefully current Juniors, Lowers and Uppers would take interest in these contests.” The Iolani School from Hawaii, which represented the West, took second place. Bel Air High School from Texas, representing the America’s heartland, took third. The North Carolina School of Science and Math, representing the South, took fourth place. According to the National Economics Challenge website, the contest is the only one of its kind for high school students. The competition was originally established in 2000. To reach the national competition, the Andover team first had to win three different rounds: state, regional and national. Jin said, “Each round consists of three multiple choice test and a quiz bowl. The top two teams from the multiple choice tests move on to the quiz bowl.” Regional winners were awarded with $1,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds, according to the National Economics Challenge website. Jin’s interest in economics resulted in the formation of Andover’s economics team, as reported in last week’s issue of The Phillipian. Aneesa Sayall and Caroll Perry, Instructors in History and Social Science, both assisted the four Seniors in their preparation for the competition.