Mastering the mind in battle of the brains

December 1, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Two Issaquah High School clubs face off for multiple sclerosis fundraiser

Issaquah High School Junior State of America members (from left) Austin Siedentopf, Megan Schutzler and senior president Matt Sekigima, and National Honor Society members president Kevin Lee, Hannah Director and Nicole Arend are ready to face off Dec. 4 in the Masters of the Mind knowledge competition benefiting the Greater Washington chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. By Chantelle Lusebrink

Issaquah High School Junior State of America members (from left) Austin Siedentopf, Megan Schutzler and senior president Matt Sekigima, and National Honor Society members president Kevin Lee, Hannah Director and Nicole Arend are ready to face off Dec. 4 in the Masters of the Mind knowledge competition benefiting the Greater Washington chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. By Chantelle Lusebrink

Some of Issaquah High School’s greatest minds will face-off in a battle of the brains. Issaquah’s National Honor Society and Junior State of America clubs are hosting a quiz-bowl competition and they hope you’ll join them to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“This is going to be a fun event,” said Kevin Lee, honor society president. “It’s put on by an elite group of students. And it’s a chance for our organization to give the community a fun night and show adults what we can do.”“We’re really about debating current issues and topics that are related to us,” said junior Matt Sekigima, president of the Junior State of America club. “You name it, we’ll debate it.

The group would like to see a packed-house at the event, Masters of the Mind, Dec. 4 at the Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus.

The idea stemmed from the National Honor Society club on campus, which, in addition to achieving high grades, is a community service group.

The club’s chapter raises money each year for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, in memory of a former Issaquah High School and Tiger Mountain Community High School teacher, Stacie Aspey, said Amy McGinnis, the group’s adviser.Aspey was diagnosed with the disease while attending Humboldt State University at age 20.

Despite the pain of living with multiple sclerosis, she got up each morning, got dressed and went to work to teach thousands of students geometry and algebra.

Issaquah has been without Aspey for three years. She died Nov. 15, 2006, at age 42, but her legacy lives on, Lee said.

“I remember her from freshman year,” he said. “I’d come to Issaquah High for math and she was next door to my class. I always remember her as this really nice lady in a wheelchair who’d come into class sometimes. Later that year, she passed on and it was a shock for everyone. She was a significant part of the school.”

During the past two years, the school’s honor society has hosted a run and walkathon in her honor. This year, the students wanted to step it up a notch, Lee said.

“We wanted to start a cool tradition, have fun and learn at the same time,” senior Nicole Arend said.

Each club will have two teams of five participants, who will compete in an enhanced “Jeopardy!”-style competition, McGinnis said.

Faculty will act as judges, and students don’t know what categories or questions will be asked ahead of time. The competition also has a lifeline contestant, the school’s math teacher Jonathan Ko.

“We’re calling it ‘Go To Ko To Know,’” McGinnis said, adding that teams will have the opportunity to use Ko’s knowledge to solve a problem.

There will also be plenty of opportunities for audience participation, she said.

“We’d love to see middle school students come, parents and adults in the community,” McGinnis said. “We want a big turnout to support the cause and give students a chance to show their intellectual side. We’re conditioned to watch athletes. It’s rare people get to see students think and apply the knowledge they’re learning.”

The honor society members decided the club to match wits with was the Junior State of America; several members are part of both clubs.

“They’re our friends,” Lee said. “But it will be a good competition.”

The Junior State of America club prides itself in giving students interested in politics and government, foreign affairs, the law and education a forum to speak out, test ideas, discuss current events and try finding solutions or taking action, Sekigima said.

A $1 entrance fee is required, but participants are encouraged to donate whatever they can, McGinnis said. Proceeds go to the Greater Washington chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which provides research support and financial help to those living with the disease in the area.

The greater Seattle chapter serves more than 8,000 people living with multiple sclerosis, and more than 40,000 of their family members, friends and caregivers throughout western and central Washington.

If you go

Masters of the Mind

7 p.m. Dec. 4

4Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus, 24635 S.E. Issaquah-Fall City Road

Tickets: $1 at the door but donations are highly encouraged

Proceeds go to the Greater Washington chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, www.nationalmssociety.org/chapters/WAS/index.aspx.

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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