Filipino American shines as Marianas Baptist Academy wins 16th Academic Challenge Bowl in Saipan

IT is a back-to-back win for Filipino-American middle schooler led Marianas Baptist Academy as they won the 16th Annual Academic Challenge Bowl, Middle School division held at Saipan Southern High School on Saturday.

According to MBA Fil-Am teacher and coach Manny Castro, this is the second year in a row that the school bagged the championship and the third time they won. The first was in 2014.

The MBA team – composed of Fil-Am team captain Joanah Victoria B. Jimenez, Keith Gester Villasin, Lyndon Digno, Deancy Adriel Y. Chua and Sebastian Dearborn L. Bernardo – bested 11 middle schools from public and private.

The MBA garnered a total score of 845 from 135 questions, covering Mathematics, Science and Technology, Arts and Literature and current events. The academy battled it out with Saipan International School, Grace Christian Academy and Agape Christian School in the second and final round.

In an interview, Castro thanked God for guiding them and for giving them the perseverance to work hard.

“Whenever we practice, we pray first. I gave them a lot of materials. I study for myself too and then I imparted [what I learned] to my students,” he said adding “I really push them so hard. Sometimes they always tell me ‘Mr. Castro is too much’. Now I think they see the reward of what we were working for.”

Castro thanked their pastor and school principal Ramiro Trinidad for supporting them and the students’ parents who provide food for them when they were practicing for the competition.

Team captain Jimenez thanked Castro for putting all the effort in order to win the competition.

“After school, we practiced. When we don’t have class, we practiced. Sometimes, even on Saturday, we practiced. It is difficult balancing it with our regular life, but I’m really proud of my team members and our coach for the effort. It paid off,” she said.

Castro said Jimenez was also the CNMI Math champion.

Jimenez, who went to the Philippines for Christmas holiday, arrived on Saipan two week before the academic challenge bowl.

“We practiced while she was still in the Philippines. Only for the last two weeks that she was able to join us. I gave her materials so that she can study while in the Philippines,” Castro said.

Castro said the next step is the national competition.

“If the Public School System will support us to compete in the national competition in the States, we will probably go. Last year, that was what happened. I am not assuming, but hopeful that they will support us again.”

School standing on first round:

1. Marianas Baptist Academy – 330

2. Agape Christian School – 305

3. Saipan International School – 290

Grace Christian School – 290

4. Saipan Community School – 255

5. Mount Carmel School – 225

6. Northern Marianas International School – 220

Dandan Middle School – 220

7. Francisco M. Sablan Middle School – 205

8. Green Meadows School – 205

9. Hopwood Middle School – 200

10. Chacha Ocean View Middle School – 185

School standing for second and final round:

1. Marianas Baptist Academy – 845

2. Saipan International School – 800

3. Grace Christian Academy – 760

4. Agape Christian School – 725

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