March 6-12, 2003
Taking it to the Top
By Howie Mansfield
OSWEGO — Eleven sixth graders from Trinity Catholic School came to the Eckerd Drug Quiz Show competition with only one goal — win a match. They left winning three times and claimed the Oswego County championship in the process. Now the school is abuzz with excitement over their success.
David Friedlander, principal of Trinity Catholic School, is impressed with his students. “I’m very proud of them all. We have done this for four years and this is the first time we have won,” he said. “Most of the public schools they competed against were mostly seventh and eighth graders. Our kids did very well, being all sixth graders.” Rebecca Flack, sixth grader teacher at Trinity Catholic School, is the team’s advisor. She said there’s no big secret to the kids’ success. Because only half of her 22 students participate in the Eckerd Drug Quiz Show, Flack said it’s difficult to bring the learning into the classroom. “I decided to let them take the stuff home and learn it on their own,” Flack said. “They are making the effort to be on the team by going home and learning the information. They come back in and they take a test. The four kids with the highest scores make up the team.”
Trinity Catholic’s team is made of four team members, three alternates and four peer coaches. Flack said the team members participate in the majority of the questions during the Quiz Show unless one of the alternates is put in someone’s place. The alternates are important to the success of the team. The peer coaches don’t participate in the competition, but test the team members and alternates on their knowledge of drug information.
Flack said packets called “learning centers” are given to the students to study. The topics relate to drugs, alcohol or lifestyle issues such as decision-making and conflict resolution. After reading the learning centers, the students return to school and take quizzes on the material. The students with the four highest averages are team members and the rest are alternates. The Oswego County competition was heated, the students said. After breezing through the first round, Trinity Catholic faced Altmar-Parish-Williamstown in Round Two. Flack said team member John Patrick Feeney came through in the clutch, and let the sixth grader explain. “We went into triple overtime against A-P-W. The question was, ‘What percentage of alcohol is in wine?’” John Patrick said. “I buzzed in and got it right, so we won!”
In the third and final game, Trinity Catholic defeated Mexico for the county championship. Each student received a certificate and t-shirt. Team member Kelsey Harris was thrilled for her school and how well it performed in the Eckerd Drug Quiz Show. “It was a lot of fun and we learned a lot. I was actually surprised how well we did,” Kelsey said. “We are this sixth grade group and a Catholic school and we didn’t think we had a chance.”
Brad McGivney, another team member, said he enjoyed competing against the other schools. “It’s really fun being on the team. We learned what drugs can do and the different types,” Brad said. Flack explained that students learn many of the slang, street names for the drugs.
Team member Jason Audlin said being in such a tough competition was difficult. “When we started to play, I got nervous. It was really close,” Jason said. “But the fun part was winning.” Katie Metcalf, one of the peer coaches, said she enjoyed testing her classmates on the information they learned for the competition. “We got to help them study and I liked helping them,” Katie said. Study begins again for the team as they prepare for their next competition — an April 2 date in the Eckerd Drug Quiz Show state regional competition in Syracuse. Flack said the students will work through all the learning center packets for the second time as they look forward to the competition.
“I’m very proud of these kids. We have had fun and we had a simple goal, win one game. But they did more than that and it’s a plus,” Flack said. “They were a little intimidated by the older kids from other schools, but it’s a credit to our kids for winning.” Friedlander said the Eckerd Drug Quiz Show provides students with valuable knowledge. “But it’s more than drug awareness. It’s also character education,” Friedlander explained. “This victory is just one of many accomplishments from this school. It’s all part of the well balanced education they are receiving at Trinity Catholic.”