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Seneca Valley Academic Games program thriving

| Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Seneca Valley Academic Games students excelled at recent tournaments, taking several top team finishes and national qualifying individual awards.

Coach Ruth Johns, adviser for the Seneca Valley Middle School Academic Games team, said the program is thriving, having gone from just a few students to having more than 20 students on the team.

Students did well at Western Pennsylvania Academic Games League regional tournaments in On-Sets, a board and cube game that teaches basic logic and set theory, and Propaganda, a game in which players must recognize persuasion techniques.

They will continue to compete at regional tournaments in February in March to qualify for nationals in LinguiSHTIK, a word game that challenges players to improve grammar, vocabulary and spelling, and World Events, where players are tested on major political and cultural events.

The National Academic Games competition is set for April 25-27 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Students compete on five-person teams within their school's team, but can only qualify for nationals by getting a high individual score.

At the Propaganda Tournament Jan. 10 at Seneca Valley Middle School, Seneca Valley teams took home first, second and third place in the elementary division, grades 5 and 6, said Seneca Valley communications director Linda Andreassi.

The first place team, from Evans City Middle School, consisted of Adam Corrigan, Connor McDonald, Sam McCune, Dean Smith and RJ Wallace.

There also were individual national qualifiers, including Corrigan, McDonald, Smith, Wallace and Gregory Mihalik from Evans City Middle School, and Michael Beggy, Cailee Cheski, Harry Foss, Jose Ordonez, Ani Ponugoti, Kate Scanlan, Zoe Stebbins, Ty Thompson and Katie Yanez from Haine Middle School.

In the middle division, grades 7 and 8, Seneca Valley Middle School students swept the tournament, taking first, second and third place in Propaganda. The first place team was made up of Rishin Sharma, Katie Bablak, Victoria Beck, Caleb Cekella and Ben Hess.

Beck, Hess, Sharma, Jarrett Johnson and Mark Trotta took the top five individual scores at the Propaganda competition, qualifying them for nationals.

At the On-Sets Tournament, held Dec. 17 at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland, there were two first-place winners and several individual national qualifiers from Haine Middle School in the Elementary Division.

Two teams from Haine tied for first place and include members Zoe Stebbins, Sydney Bruns, DJ Kovarik, Spencer Katzenell, Derek Howe, Emma Woodard, Bailey Saldmen, Evan August, Ben Dessing and Ari Bilger.

Haine Middle School national individual qualifiers Kovarik, Woodard, Emily Babusci, Kevin Karatassos, and Cam Martin earned perfect scores in the On-Sets competition, Andreassi said.

Bruns, August, Rachel Rafferty, Zoe Stebbins, Marc Amado, Michael Beggy, Matt Donaldson, Julia Ehrman and Ari Bilger also qualified for the national competition.

In the middle division, teams from Seneca Valley Middle School took second and third place in On-Sets and had four national qualifying students, Cekella, Sharma, Matt Ehret and Alex Garcia.

The Seneca Valley Junior Division, grades 9 and 10, placed first in On-Sets with a team including Mark Livingstone, Kyle Cindrich, Rhea Kudtarkar, Urvi Gupta and Shane Ruiz.

Gupta also earned an individual national qualifying score.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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