A group of Bayside Middle School students have earned the moniker of national champions after not only placing first in the state, but first in the nation in a worldwide academic contest.
Competing against some 45,000 participants from thousands of schools around the globe, Bayside’s Knowledge Masters Open team dominated in contests in January and December, garnering top prizes.
“Our students have done pretty well in the past, but this year it was unique,” Principal Don Galster said. “This is pretty substantial and special.”
The middle school has two teams, one made up of fifth and sixth grade students and the other of seventh- and eighth-graders. Both competitions took first place in Wisconsin, and the fifth/sixth grade team took first place in the nation and 12th in the world, and the seventh/eighth grade team garnered 30th in the world.
The fifth/sixth grade team was given a timed 100-question random test, and the seventh/eighth grade team took a timed 200-question random test. The online questionnaire tests the students on 15 different subjects ranging from current affairs to math and awards points based on accuracy and speed.
This year’s team has a better variety of students involved than in the past, Galster said.
“It has become much more competitive nationally and internationally, so to reach this level is very impressive,” Galster said.
In the competition, it isn't enough to know the right answers — students must also be able to convince their team members that the answer they are sharing is correct. Galster added since the contest is timed, it can become pretty nerve-racking at times so teamwork is vital.
“If you watch the kids do KMO it’s pretty tense; the questions are pretty challenging for their grade level,” he said.
KMO advisor Kristin Lockhart oversees the team, but Galster said the program is actually run by the students. Many of the students often gave up their lunches and recesses to practice and compete.
"I’m very proud of the students for their accomplishment," Galster said.