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North Allegheny students place 5th in annual Euro Challenge

| Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 8:33 p.m.
North Allegheny High School juniors (from left) Dominic Moore, 17, Natalie Morrissey, 16, Michael Becich, 17 and Medha Sharma, 15, and sophomore Pranav Murthy, 15, show their price check after earning fifth place nationally in the annual Euro Challenge and first place regionally in the competition. Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review

Michael Becich learned about the euro not through class lectures or textbooks but as part of North Allegheny's 2012 national finalist Euro Challenge team.

The competition teaches high school students about the European Union and its fiscal problems.

“There's nothing else like it. Other contests test you in trivia, but it's nothing as innovative as this,” said Becich, 17, of Bradford Woods. “It's like a science fair — it allows you to think for yourself.”

The contest is an innovative way to involve American students in devising solutions for complex problems, political scientists say.

“It gives students the opportunity to understand the broader context in which they're living, and it's focused on the global economy,” said Amiena Mahsoob, deputy director of education programs at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. “It's particularly important for students in Pittsburgh. Our economy is so connected to Europe. There are over 250 international companies in Pittsburgh.”

The North Allegheny High School team of Becich, Natalie Morissey, Dominic Moore, Medha Sharma and Pranav Murthy placed fifth in April at the Euro Challenge final in New York.

The annual contest is sponsored by the delegation of the European Union to the United States. The University of Pittsburgh and World Affairs Council are supporters.

Student teams of three to five students made presentations to answer questions about the European economy and its single currency, the euro.

They were asked to pick one of the 17 European Union member countries that adopted the euro and examine an economic problem in that country, then identify national policies for responding to it.

The students for North Allegheny selected how to deal with unemployment in Ireland.

Becich and Moore said they selected Ireland because they figured other teams would pick Greece or Spain, whose near economic collapses were well publicized.

After winning the regional competition at the University of Pittsburgh, the students won their preliminary pool to get into the final in New York.

“The judges are pretty renowned economists and they ask complex questions,” Becich said. “You have to be able to think on your feet.”

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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