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A Brentwood-Darlington team impresses, at the regional Science Bowl competition

DAVID F. ASHTON - Preparing to compete in the BPA Regional Science Bowl were Access Academy students Manu Isaacs, Jane Coffey-Read, Shriya Pai, Alexander Roland, Kirin Cowell-Shah - and their coach, Dr. Alfonso Garcia Arriola. Just days before they were to compete in the "middle school National Finals regional competition" of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science's "National Science Bowl" on January 29, the students at ACCESS Academy in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood were busy getting ready for the big quiz.

The coach and students on the team, based on the Lane Middle School campus, took a few minutes to speak with THE BEE about their special educational program, and about the upcoming competition.

We learned that the program's acronym represents a rather lengthy description of what it does for its students (follow the capital letters): "'ACCESS' stands for Accelerated Curriculum, Cultivation and development of skills, abilities and creativity, Character and social development, Exploration and personal discovery, Self-directed, Self-paced challenges toward excellence, Service to the community and society, with tolerance and wisdom," explained their coach, Dr. Alfonso Garcia Arriola, who has taught at the school since its inception in 2003 – and managed that explanation in one breath.

"This is part of Portland Public School's Department of Educational Options," Garcia Arriola continued. "ACCESS offers a nurturing environment that supports the personal growth of gifted students. Although our students are high-achieving, many of them have struggled painfully in a traditional classroom environment."

Members of their Science Bowl team selected Eighth Grader Shriya Pai to be their spokesperson.

"I think it's actually really fun, as well as being a great experience," Pai told THE BEE. "In addition to learning about the topic, it's about collaboration and teamwork; making it a good experience for us all.

"I think preparing for the Science Bowl helps me further my education, because everything that we study here will help us in our high school courses, in which we already are learning physics, chemistry, and biology.

"All of us will apply all the science information we learn, and how to access necessary informational resources for future educational career," assured Pai.

Team does well

After the competition, their coach commented, "I believe our school did very well, they finished 12th overall. And, over the past few years, I have seen the Science Bowl get more and more competitive, with teams from the Seattle area doing very well."

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