Sarah Nyquist '12
Tafties continue to make their mark around the state and across the nation this spring by racking up successes in a myriad of athletic and academic competitions. The lastest group to earn accolades? The “A” team of Taft economists.
“Eight Taft students participated in this year's National Economics Challenge, a program sponsored by the Council for Economic Education,” team advisor Jeremy Clifford said. “Our "A" team of Jason Zhao ’13, Benny Leung ’14, Cathy Chen ’12 and Vivian Dong ’12 recently won the state competition.”
That win qualifies them to move on to the semi-final round of the national competition, scheduled for Tuesday, April 24. The semi-final round consists of a proctored exam administered at Taft.
Now in its 12th year, the National Economics Challenge “applies the excitement of an athletic competition to academic excellence.” Competitors work in teams comprised of 3 to 4 students to answer a series of rigorous questions on microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics and current events. Competitions are held at the state, national semi-final and national final levels. At the national final, students complete rounds of testing, work in teams to solve case problems, and participate in a quick-paced oral quiz-bowl in order to win the national championship title. Finals this year will take place at the Tisch WNET Studios in New York City Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20.
According to team advisor Jeremy Clifford, this is the first year Taft has participated in the Challenge. The decision to do so was driven by Taft students, themselves.
"We have more students showing an interest in economics who want to compete in interscholastic competitions, the way we do in science and math," Clifford said. "Benny and Jason approached me about helping coach them with the competition, but but they have really spearheaded the effort and worked to get other students involved."
For A Team member Jason Zhao '13, competing in the Challenge just made sense.
"We got involved in the National Economics Challenge because we are all very interested in economics," said Jason. "For me, economics is like magic: it transforms complicated information into concise and understandable models. Economics also enables me to become a more qualified global citizen. The concepts of currency, net exports and capital flows deepen our understanding of international relations. Now we can easily perceive the pros and cons of US deficit spending and how it can impact the US's relationships with China, Japan and other US debt-holding countries."
The team is looking forward to the next stage of the competition, and they are certainly not resting on their laurels. They will be up against some stiff–and familiar–competition: The defending champion is Andover.
"When we knew that we won the state championship, all of our team members were exhilarated. But our joy certainly did not make us overly proud," Jason said. "To prepare for the national semi-finals, we come together and do econ problems for least one hour every day. I hope our efforts and pay off and we can win the national championship!"
Tafties Michael Cheung '13, Isaac Morrier '13, Mai Nguyen '12 and Esperanza Li '14 also participated in the Challenge.