Thornton Academy Trojan News

Trojans Win State-wide Geography Contest, Qualify for Nationals in April

Posted by Katy Nicketakis on Mar 5, 2018 11:29:36 AM
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Four Thornton Academy seniors placed first in the Academic World Quest (AWQ) competition held February 27. Sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Maine, the competition took place at the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) offices in Portland.


Vincent Falardeau, Monika Kaczorowska, Ethan Nadeau, and Connor Northway made up the winning team which finished 11 points ahead of the second place team. Their victory secures them a spot in the national competition to be held in Washington D.C. April 28th.

TA students won Academic World Quest competition!

Monika Kaczorowska, Connor Northway, Ethan Nadeau, and Vincent Falardeau are all smiles after learning they placed 1st in Maine in the Academic World Quest competition. 


This is the third year that Vincent and Ethan have competed in AWQ. Two years ago, as sophomores, they also made it to the national competition. This year the team has hopes to finish near the top.

We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to compete in the national competition! The national competition has five new categories that we need to study, so we definitely have a lot of hard work ahead of us. That being said, I think we’re all very excited to learn more about each of the new categories and try to do our best at nationals,” Kaczorowska said.

The team is coached by Thornton Academy teachers Mike Nelson and Tom Rackmales. Both Nelson and Rackmales teach AP Human Geography, a course that focuses on migration, population, and anthropology. Falardeau, Kaczorowska, Nadeau, and Norhave all taken the course and credit the class and their teachers for helping them to prepare.


AWQ winners pose with their coaches.

Coaches Mike Nelson (left) and Tom Rackmales (right) worked with the members of Sagamartha to prepare them for the competition. 

“The education we got at TA definitely inspired us to be so passionate about this event. The different classes we took at TA certainly contributed to our win. To my surprise, if there ever was a question in our own specific category that we weren’t sure about, we talked about it as a team and almost all of the times we could answer a question correctly because of the knowledge our teammates had from different TA classes. It was great to see how the things we learn in classes can be used in different contexts. Mr. Nelson’s AP Human Geography (APHG) class was by far the most helpful. A few questions in the Geography and Current Events category regarded issues frequently discussed in the APHG class. I think that gave us an advantage over teams from other schools,” Monika said.

The four students are passionate about geography and global affairs. They even chose a geographically-inspired name for their team: Sagarmatha, the Nepalese name for Mount Everest.

“I plan to study geography in college and probably go into a career related to geography, maybe as a cartographer or a teacher/professor. Studying America’s Diplomats and the Department of State for this competition has made me think it would be pretty cool to be a diplomat or join the foreign service,” Vincent said.

Thornton had four teams participate in the AWQ competition. The other teams were:


Dex Ho

Monika Gao

Charles Qu

Leo Xie


The Romance Branch

Alessandra Nucciotti

Claudia Olea

Sabrina Nucciotti

Ludovica Mattioli



EU’ve lost the British

Connor Ames

Polina Plitchenko

Sam Lamontagne

Jan Rocek



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Topics: Awards, academics, international