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Friday, March 31, 2023

HHS earns fifth straight Science Olympiad state title

Hamilton High School’s Science Olympiad team won first place for the fifth year in a row and Corvallis Middle School’s Science Olympiad team won first place in the middle school category at the Montana state tournament in Bozeman on March 8.

The teams will travel to the National Science Olympiad competition in Wichita, Kansas, beginning May 20.

“These kids keep impressing me year after year.” said HHS Coach Vanessa Haflich. “I don’t know how they do it.”

Haflich has been the head HHS science coach for two years and was the assistant coach the year before.   

“The students have a tremendous work ethic and attitude and desire to learn their event and compete,” Haflich said. “It is so fun to see this year after year. For seniors, this is their fifth year too. They won this in eighth grade too, so this is very cool. We’re excited to see what we do at nationals.”

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Capitol High (Helena) placed second and Corvallis High School placed third in the high school competition.

“That’s a cool thing that we are competing against AA schools also,” Haflich said. “Our JV team scored 10th overall too.”

The HHS SO team is comprised of seven seniors, three juniors and five sophomores. Results are Fern Stewart and Em Courchesne – 2nd in Write It Do It; Haven Osher Rightsell and Bryn Cianflone – 2nd in Scrambler; Ben Busa and Nathan Schwartz – 1st in Fermi; Fern Stewart, Sophia Lewanski and Em Courchesne – 1st in Experimental Design; Conner Reed and Zsomi Kari  – 1st in Detector Building; Cole Kimzey and Zsomi Kari – 2nd in Code Busters; Avery Stevens and Kiera Judy – 2nd in Chem Lab; Elaina Lewis and Eleri Wheat – 3rd in Cell Biology; Matt Ochoa and Makenna Gunderson – 1st in Trajectory; Brooklyn Brown and Emma Hollingsworth – 3rd in Bridge; and Zsomi Kari and Sierra Berry – 3rd in Astronomy.

Haflich explained that for Montana, HHS competes in 14 events but will add nine more to have a total of 23 events for national competitions.

“The kids will learn additional events,” Haflach said. “Most states compete with 23 events all year. I already have kids popping in at lunch or during my prep period wanting to go over SO materials. I’m ordering more supplies. There is a lot of excitement with the team right now. It’s going to be a whirlwind of a spring.”

The HHS SO team has not been able to travel due to the pandemic and has competed in national tournaments online for the past three years.

“We are traveling this year, this is well–earned,” Haflich said. “We haven’t traveled in three years and are fundraising. We’ll need to buy plane tickets in the next two weeks.”

Haflich said the HHS SO team has completed some fundraising over the years, but the expenses of travel, registration, lodging, food and other expenses have gone up.

“Depending on flights we’re looking to raise $10,000 to $18,000 depending on where we fly out of,” she said. “We don’t have time to raise money. It’s a tough time of the year. Our national tournament is at the same time as a lot of our divisional sports events and that makes it tougher. Kids may have to make hard choices.”

If any individual or business would like to donate to the Hamilton High School Science Olympiad team contact Haflich at HHS, 406–375–6060 or send donations to HHS SO, 327 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton, MT 59840.

Corvallis Middle School’s Science Olympiad team earned first place in the Montana competition, in the middle school category.

CMS Coaches Darcie Herbstritt and Jenifer Powell said they are pleased with their team, have funds to raise and have many preparations to make.

“Each of [the SO competitors] will probably be adding another event,” Powell said. “We’ll be studying, fundraising and hopefully having a few more mentors. All the sports are going we have softball, baseball, track so they are trying to juggle. This is our first national tournament in three years.”

CMS has 15 varsity team members and 10 junior varsity competitors.

CMS SO Varsity placings are Jeremy Davidson and Kelly Hart – 1st in Meteorology; Jeremy Davidson and Cooper Gividen – 2nd in Rocks & Minerals; Taylor Andersen and Myla Cooper – 2nd in Crime Busters; Martin Sims and Tucker Werhane – 3rd in Crave the Wave; Ayla Middleton and Micah Watters – 3rd in Solar System; Samantha Royce and  Micah Watters – 3rd in Disease Detectives; Taylor Andersen and Kaelyn Sanchez – 4th in Anatomy & Physiology; Bode Middleton, Martin Sims and Cooper Gividen – 4th in Codebusters; Cooper Gividen and Tucker Werhane – 4th in Road Scholar; Bode Middleton and Ayla Middleton – 4th in Wheeled Vehicle; Kirsten Race and Kelly Hart – 4th in Write It/ Do It; Anya Hammill and Reilly Nelson – 8th in Bridges; Anya Hammill, Kristen Race and Kaelyn Sanchez – 14th in Experimental Design; and Myla Cooper and Reilly Nelson – 20th in Forestry.

“I’m still a little shell–shocked from winning the state championship,” CMS eighth-grade SO member Tucker Werhane said. “Nationals will be very exciting. It will be fun traveling that far with a school group. I love math and science and am considering a career in astronautical engineering. I need a lot of math and science. It is basically operating outside the earth’s atmosphere and there is a lot of physics in that.”

“It’s just really nerve–wracking,” CMS SO seventh-grade member Kirsten Race said. “There are larger schools from larger states. They have a larger pool of students with more strenuous picking for their teams. I’m just kind of scared. [My event] ‘Write It / Do It’ has taught me to keep calm under pressure.”

HHS and CMS plan to do some fundraising and travel together for the National Science Olympiad competition in Wichita, Kansas, which begins on May 20.

The coaches of the two teams know each other well. HHS Coach Vanessa Bleibtrey Haflich was a first–grade student in the first year CMS Coach Jennifer Powell taught.

Send donations for to the Corvallis Middle School Science Olympiad team to CMS SO, Corvallis School District #1, 1151 Eastside Highway, Corvallis, MT 59828.

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