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'Iolani kids 'know their economics'


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POSTED: Saturday, May 02, 2009

Eight students from 'Iolani School will compete in the National Economics Challenge in New York City later this month after their teams swept the Western Regionals.

The two Hawaii state champion teams defeated school champions in two divisions from Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, California, Arizona, Idaho and Oregon Monday in the CEE/Goldman Sachs Economics Challenge in Los Angeles. The final four national finals will be held May 16-18.

To earn the right to compete at the regional level, 'Iolani first had to defeat 169 students from Hilo High School, Kalani High School, Kamehameha Schools, Maui High School, Maryknoll School and Waipahu High School at the Island Insurance Cos. Economics Challenge on April 8, presented by the Hawaii Council on Economic Education.

“;This is the fifth consecutive year that teams from 'Iolani have won both the Adam Smith (advanced placement) division and the David Ricardo (non-advanced placement) division of the state level challenge,”; said Kristine Castagnaro, executive director of the Hawaii Council on Economics Education. “;These kids definitely know their economics.”;

At the regional competition, 'Iolani's Ricardo team took the lead early while California and Idaho struggled to overtake it. 'Iolani managed to increase its lead with each round and smoothly qualified for the final showdown.

'Iolani's Smith team did not have it quite so easy. It trailed California and Oregon after round one (microeconomics) but pulled within five points of Oregon's second-place position after round two (macroeconomics). In the third round, which covered international economics and current events, 'Iolani outscored Oregon by 195 points to leap ahead and qualify to face off with California in the final buzzer round.

In the buzzer round with the Western crown and a spot in the Final Four Economics Challenge on the line, 'Iolani's Ricardo team led all the way and defeated California 12-6 at the 25th question.

In the Smith division, it was neck and neck with the lead changing several times until 'Iolani pulled away to win 14-9 at the 26th question.

“;The buzzer round against California was a real dogfight,”; said Dick Rankin, advanced placement economics teacher and coach of 'Iolani's Smith team. “;It was a tremendous feat for our students to win over the team which had steamrolled 277 California teams.”;

Richie Kibota, who coached 'Iolani's Ricardo team, also was impressed by the level of competition.

“;I enjoyed seeing all the students from the various states displaying their passion for economics,”; Kibota said.

The Smith team consisted of seniors Truong Vu, Uyanga Tsedev, Rayfe Gaspar-Asaoka and David Martorana. The Ricardo team consisted of sophomores Andrew Wu, Matthew Lum, Mark Grozen-Smith and Bobby Huang.

Gaspar-Asaoka said he feels honored to represent Hawaii in the national finals.

“;All of us are so passionate and excited about economics,”; he said. “;We all want to impact and help the world economy. Simply put, it was awesome.”;