Though a Poplarville High School team took home the championship for the second time in two years, the OSHS team was glad to be participating for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.
“It’s just a great learning experience,” said Lizzy Wicks,, 16.” Team members Jillian Wilson, 18, Vina Nguyen, 16, and Stewart Eaves, 15, agreed that the competition was “fun, competitive” and just plain “awesome.”
“It’s definitely a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon,” added Taylor Miller, 18.
Long Beach High’s Team A placed second, Bay High third and Long Beach High’s Team B got fifth.
The event included 18 teams of 85 students from 13 high schools spanning the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee during the rapid-fire, quiz bowl-style ocean sciences competition that focuses on marine science.
The champ of the Central Gulf of Mexico competition heads to Galveston for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl in April. From there, the winner will compete against competition winners from 24 other regional sites.
The bowl originated in 1998 at the J.L. Scott Education Center on Port Cadet, but moved to the GCRL after Katrina. “We relocated there in February 2006, and have held it here ever since,” said Sam Clardy, who directs the event.
Leah Gaines, 24, a 2004 Ocean Springs High School graduate, participated in the bowl in 2003-2004. A current graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi, Gaines said the experience of competition fueled her love for sciences. “You learn so much when studying, and you’ll find some of the questions end up later in your classwork,” she said. “I still have friends from the competition. It’s a great way to meet people and learn things before you even go to college. They ask college-level questions.”
Clardy said the bowl is also “a way to learn to connect the dots. It encourages students at an early age to spark that interest in marine sciences so they might want to purse further education and careers in ocean sciences.
“And maybe those grad students will return to Southern Miss to study. Leah is a great example.”
Teams participating this year in the bowl included Bay High School; Collegiate High School of Niceville, Fla.; Comeaux High School of Lafayette, La.; James S. Rickards High School of Tallahassee, Fla.; J.M. Tate High School of Cantonment, Fla.; LeFlore Magnet High School of Mobile; Long Beach High School; Moss Point High School; Ocean Springs High School; Oneonta (Ala.) High School; Poplarville High School; Vancleave High School; and Whites Creek (Tenn.) High School.
Poplarville High took home top honors in 2004, 2007 and 2010.