Oddly enough, a question about America's academic failures sticks out in the braniac's mind.
Krista Ray nailed the answer, as she and her team from Hilton Head Island High School won Beaufort County's first Academic WorldQuest competition.
It's a national contest to increase the awareness of the importance of global issues in high school students.
Krista is interested in international business. She spent time last summer at the University of Oxford in England. Her family travels a lot, visiting Spain every other year. She's a junior in the International Baccalaureate program, with New York University and the University of Southern California her top college choices. She's been in Beaufort County public schools since sixth grade.
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"People around the world all have different ways of living," she said, "but we're all kind of alike. We're still able to interact with each other, and that's important."
The competition was sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Hilton Head, chaired by Blaine Lotz. Its 800 members gather twice a month to hear talks from experts on matters of global importance.
The council, now in its 31st year, has other outreach programs in the schools, and it raised all the money for the first WorldQuest competition. It attracted two teams from each of the county's five public high schools and was warmly embraced by Beaufort County School District superintendent Valerie Truesdale and Jennifer Woods, head of its program for gifted students. Next year, they hope to include more students and send the winners to the national finals in Washington, D.C.
Adults left the competition Saturday on Hilton Head scratching their heads, glad they didn't have to answer the 100 multiple-choice questions each team faced.
The winning team linked up on Facebook to split up primary responsibility for the contest's 10 categories, including "U.S. Education: Competing Globally" and "U.S. Energy Policy." With their study guide came links to articles, videos and books to be read. Teammates could confer on answers, but no one could bring in any notes.
"The hardest thing was the amount of information we had to cover," Krista said. "It included a lot of things I hadn't heard of."
Also on the winning team -- who each walked away with a new iPad -- were Katy Hinton, Kristin Trusz and Nick Zarra. They were selected and coached by teacher Duncan Aspinwall-Winter.
The Beaufort High team of Pat Balmediano, Austin Mix, Jonah Miller and Justice Mullen was second, winning $100 gift cards from Best Buy. Bluffton High's team of Katie Ryan, Darby Ward, Jason Guo and Anne Blackman won a tie-breaker for third place over Beaufort High's other team.
Power is knowledge, Aspinwall-Winter likes to tell his students. He thinks they will live in a more globally integrated world than previous generations and that they now have a little more power to compete.
Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.