Teens focused on world affairs aim for D.C.

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, in­cluding Alpine resident Noah Seeno, 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, and Miranda Cambell Vargas. Their student advisor is ECHS 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 (the­groundupproj.org) 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 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.

Anders said the teams come from ECHS Global Language & Leadership Program, which provides an innovative and rig­orous course of study for stu­dents who are interested in further developing their world language proficiencies in high school. Their goal is to provide a dynamic, international per­spective to students who wish to pursue language immersion education following their par­ticipation in local K-8 immer­sion programs. El Capitan High School offers a flexible choice of AP courses and content classes in both Spanish and Mandarin.

To support the El Capitan team going to the WorldQuest national competition, visit the following link and mark “AWQ sponsorship in the comment section. https://sdwac.org/Do­nate


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