Elkhart and Rolla high schools each earned academic bragging rights as they tied for the Xtreme Challenge Overall High School Award Wednesday at Seward County Community College/Area Technical School, Liberal, Kansas.
Fourteen high schools represented by nearly 230 students converged on campus for the fourth annual Xtreme Challenge, an event with academic challenges, games and campus tours during the morning, followed by an awards ceremony in the afternoon.
Some friendly rivalry chatter between the Elkhart and Rolla sponsors set up an emotional finish when the first-place tie was announced. Sponsor Terri Houtz and counselor Robin Koonce of Elkhart had been teasing Rolla sponsors Traci Taylor and Tami Boekhaus, whose high school won in 2008, that Elkhart was going to win the contest this year.
“It was back and forth as we listened to each competitions’ winners, and it was so exciting when Rolla and Elkhart came out on top,” Houtz said. “I love a competition. We have come to the challenge for the past four years, and we always get into it, hoping to come out on top.”
Taylor said she was trying to tabulate points, too, as student winners were announced in each category. “If I had to tie for first, I’m glad it was with Terri,” Taylor said of her friend from Elkhart.
The win meant Rolla High School students got to make an ice cream stop on the way home. However, Elkhart’s motivation was little more foreboding.
“(Mrs. Houtz) told us if Rolla went up on that stage instead of us, we were going to have to walk home,” said EHS senior Tiawna Cayton, laughing. Rolla did go up on stage, but the Elkhart High students thought the tie for Overall High School Award made it a safe bet they’d get a ride home.
High schools attending Xtreme Challenge included Balko, Okla., Bucklin, Deerfield, Elkhart, Forgan, Okla., Keyes, Okla., Liberal, Moscow, Rolla, Satanta, Southwestern Heights, Spearman, Texas, Turpin, Okla., and Tyrone, Okla.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for people to compete and have a good time,” said visiting high school student Jesse Lane of Rolla. “The prizes that they have really push people to compete.”
Elkhart High School freshman Tanesha Cayton agreed.
“This was my first time to go to the Xtreme Challenge,” Cayton said. “It was a lot of fun and the prizes were great. I can’t wait for next year.”
2009 Xtreme Challenge winners received such prizes as Dell Mini 9 laptops, digital cameras, iPod Shuffles or Nanos, video recorders, GPS, night goggles, Bamboo Fun, and a techie gift basket.
According to coordinators, the students seemed excited by the prizes and demonstrated a desire to do their best in the competitions.
“I was really impressed with the students,” said art instructor Susan Copas after the art department challenges were completed. “They did such good work, and they were so diligent.”
Elkhart senior Jordan Mitchell said he saw an increase in competition in his third year to attend the Xtreme Challenge. “Each year the talent gets more competitive.”
Sponsors have indicated the contest is a good opportunity for students.
“I think it is great for my students to be able to interact with other high school students and also with SCCC students,” Houtz said. “The SCCC instructors always make us feel so welcome when we are on campus.
Taylor feels contests such as the Xtreme Challenge have a far-reaching impact.
“I probably wouldn’t have considered going into teaching if my teacher hadn’t sent me to a similar contest,” Taylor said. “Students just need a taste of success academically, and this contest gives them a new viewpoint. They learn they can do those things they like. They learn they can be successful.”
Taylor also likes the exposure to the college atmosphere for her students.
“They see that college is attainable, and it’s not as scary as it sounds. As they eat in the cafeteria, take a campus tour, go through the contests, and navigate around campus, it makes college less scary. We’ve sent several to Seward, and they’ve gone on to four-year schools and been very successful.”
Success was noted for students at the awards ceremony which concluded the Xtreme Challenge.
Following a presentation by the college dance team, the voice of the Saints Delvin Kinser took the stage in the Showcase Theater to announce the student winners in each category and to emcee some drawings.
Xtreme Challenge prizes were presented by SCCC/ATS instructors and featured the top three high school students in each of nine challenge areas.
• Accounting: First place, Josh Ryman, Elkhart; second place, Angela Gomez, Southwestern Heights; third place, Miguel Araiza, Moscow.
• Administrative Professionals: First, Lindsay Garinger, Southwestern Heights; second, Megan Taylor, Rolla; third, Logan Smith, Elkhart.
• Agriculture: First, Kurtis Clawson, Satanta; second, Jade Greene, Rolla; third, Kyle Hall, Rolla.
• Art: First, Mandy Switzer, Satanta; second, Karen Gallo, Turpin, Okla.; third, Jesse Lane, Rolla.
• Computer Information Systems: First, Lauren Carter, Elkhart; second, Tanesha Cayton, Elkhart; third, Lorena Richards, Turpin, Okla.
• Cosmetology: First, Megan Devore, Liberal; second, Tania Mengelkamp, Rolla; third, René Boaldin, Elkhart.
• Criminal justice: First, Brandon Rusch, Rolla; second, Anthony Hernandez, Moscow; third, Emili Hawley, Southwestern Heights.
• Journalism: First, Tiawna Cayton, Elkhart; second, Jayce Apsley, Satanta; third, Katie Ambrosier, Elkhart.
• Marketing/management: First, Casey Barrett, Rolla; second, Javier Medrano, Satanta; third, Stephan Menges, Bucklin.
The ending ceremony also had drawings for several awards. The Development Foundation scholarships, valued at $100 each, went to William Parks of Tyrone High School, Rance Rankin of Satanta High School, and Harold Robinson of Tyrone High School. SCCC/ATS Office Professionals gave $100 college gift certificates to Kaci Hall of Forgan, Okla., and Holli Randolph of Balko, Okla.
Bucklin High School sponsor Stephen Hokanson won the $100 Hastings gift certificate. Hokanson coaches football and teaches computer science at Bucklin and has attended every Xtreme Challenge since the contest began.
Xtreme Challenge was chaired by accounting instructor Tanya Dowell and business instructor Sherry Farrell. They agreed that, although it was their first year to chair the event, it went smoothly because of the team effort from the college and those involved.
“Actually, I thought it went fantastic,” Dowell said. “It didn’t all fall on any one person’s shoulders. It took everyone.”
Elkhart High School student Katie Ambrosier appreciated the planning that went into the day.
“I loved how relaxed the competition was,” Ambrosier said, “but also how organized everything was. The wonderful prizes were a nice add-on as well.”
Last year, several area high schools were still playing in sub-state basketball tournaments the week of Xtreme Challenge, but this year’s scheduling proved beneficial, as the total number of high schools involved jumped from eight to 14, and the total number of students increased from 140 to more than 200.
Crusader student newspaper photographers took pictures throughout the Xtreme Challenge. To see photos from the day, go online at CrusaderNews.com to photo galleries and click on the Xtreme Challenge folders.
For more information about the SCCC/ATS Xtreme Challenge or any of the academic departments involved, contact business division chair Marcia Hatcher at 620-417-1350.