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Scholastic skirmish

Students compete in annual academic competition in Fishtown.

Coach Dolores Griffith celebrates with the varsity champions from St. Laurentius: Steven Polit, Connor Siemien and Adam Gilderman.

By Christopher Seamans


Who was the fourth president of the United States? What’s the capital of Tennessee? What does HIV stand for?

The questions flew fast and furious as area schools squared off for a scrimmage at Fishtown’s Shissler Recreation Center.

Schools that fielded teams at the 16th Annual Fishtown March Madness Academic Competition were Alexander Adaire, Alternative Middle Years at James Martin, Horatio B. Hackett, LaSalle Academy, Our Lady of Port Richmond, St. Laurentius and Visitation BVM.

Before the brainy brawl kicked off, there was an awards ceremony to recognize River Wards students and educators, hosted by organizer A.J. Thomson and special guest Salena Jones, chief of community outreach at the District Attorney’s Office.

Winning teacher of the year honors were Adaire’s Brittney Boyle, Hackett’s Jacqueline Metz and St. Laurentius’ Rachel McGowan. Taking home the Educators Award were Adaire’s Christine Tustin-Shultice, Hackett’s Sara Francis and St. Laurentius’ Jeanette Jalkowski. Kim Creighton and the Portside Arts Center were recognized for excellence in arts education with the Joseph M. Minark Community Education Award.

The students who took home the Tim Breslin Memorial Citizenship Award were John Brown (OLPR), Padraig Gillespie (Adaire), Brooklyn Grant (LaSalle Academy), Aidan Ramirez (Visitation BVM), Alex Saurman (Hackett), Rian Schuler (AMY) and Matthew Wnek (St. Laurentius).

The award, named in honor of a Fishtown resident who tirelessly volunteered in his neighborhood, recognizes student’s commitment to community service and the example they set for others.

After the applause died down, student teams faced off against each other in two divisions — varsity, for older students, and junior varsity for younger students. The stakes were high — winners moved on to the next round with a shot at the championship.

Natalia Bieszczad, Delainey Motagnaro-Diaz, Jordan Simes and Shane Wieckowski of OLPR — coached by Jennalee Meyer, Kelly Lare and Sarah Spero — took home the junior varsity trophy after a match against St. Laurentius.

Jordan was particularly excited by the victory.

“This is my third year,” she said. “I’ve always gone against St. Laurentius in the finals and I’ve always won second. I just had the feeling of, ‘I want to win first place this time,’ and I finally accomplished that.”

At the varsity level, the outcome was reversed.

Adam Gilderman, Steven Polit and Connor Siemien of St. Laurentius — coached by Dolores Griffith — took home the trophy and the coveted March Madness championship cup after eliminating OLPR.

The cup spent the last two years at OLPR, so Connor was happy with his team’s win.

“I’m very excited to bring the championship back to St. Laurentius,” he said.

Adam thought his team’s intense practice gave them the edge.

“Practicing with the Trivia Club and then two weeks after school and during lunch put us over the top,” he said.

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