A sixth-grade team at Lake Middle School and a fifth-grade team at Bailey Elementary, both of Woodbury, finished in the top 10 teams competing nationally and internationally in the Knowledge Master Open on Jan. 23.

The semiannual competition requires teams to answer multiple-choice questions at a computer, with points awarded for speed and accuracy.

The Bailey Elementary fifth-graders ranked eighth among 175 teams at their grade level, while the Lake Middle School sixth-graders finished seventh in a 210-team field that included competition from Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Students were quizzed in 15 subject areas, including American history, literature, biology and economics, and were allowed to use pencils and paper but not books or calculators.

Sample questions at the website, www.greatauk.com, include:

• Who was killed by redcoats? (Crispus Attucks)

• Which state has the lowest population density? (Nevada)

• What would happen if earth's atmosphere vanished? (Oceans would boil away)

The Lake Middle School team answered 97 of 100 questions correctly. The top-ranked team, Valley View Middle School in Edina, scored a perfect 100.

Two other South Washing- ton County schools -- Woodbury Middle School and Cottage Grove Middle School -- also had teams competing at the sixth-grade level. Woodbury Middle School ranked 18th and Cottage Grove Middle School finished 82nd.

Jennifer Halbur, a language arts teacher who coached the Cottage Grove team, said in a district news release, "The students that participated did a great job of capitalizing on the strengths of each individual. With questions in a variety of subject matters, this was critical to their success."

The Bailey Elementary team was among 12 fifth-grade teams participating from within the South Washington County district. Among the local teams, the nearest ranked competition came from Red Rock Elementary in Woodbury, which finished 23rd.

The top-ranked Minnesota school, Sunset Hill Elementary in Plymouth, finished second among all fifth-grade teams.


Eighth-grade violinist to play at state level

Sydney Norcross, an eighth-grader at Southwest Junior High in Forest Lake, earned the distinction of being the first Forest Lake Area Schools student to be named to the Minnesota String & Orchestra Teachers Association (MNSOTA) Middle Level Honors Orchestra.

Norcross, a violinist, will join the state's best string instrumentalists in grades 7, 8 and 9 for a Feb. 16 performance at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

"It's a huge, huge honor," said Poji Schreiber, orchestra director at Southwest Junior High.

To be selected, violinists had to upload four audio recordings that included the specified major and minor scales for the instrument, a short piece of their own choosing, and an excerpt from Vivaldi's Concerto in A Minor. Students could not use a metronome or play with accompaniment, according to the audition instructions.

The Middle Level Honors Orchestra will perform as part of the Midwinter Clinic of the Minnesota Music Educators Association, which also runs an all-state program for musicians and choir performers at the high-school level.

Courtney Lewis, associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, will serve as the middle-level orchestra's guest conductor. Lewis was founding music director of Boston's Discovery Ensemble, a chamber orchestra dedicated to introducing inner-city school children to classical music.