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Trip Eludes School Quiz Team Again

April 21, 1996|MIGUEL BUSTILLO

Once again, a team of brainy Westlake High School students made the finals of the Los Angeles Times Ambassadors contest.

Once again, they fell short of a free trip to a foreign land.

Westlake High's four-member team came in seventh among 10 Southern California schools during the quiz portion of the Ambassadors to Singapore contest in downtown Los Angeles. Only the top five schools won nine-day, all-expenses-paid trips to the Southeast Asian nation.

"We were well-prepared, but the teams that get to go to Singapore, they were perfect," said English teacher Bill Csellak, the team's coach.

It isn't the first letdown Csellak has experienced: He also coached the Westlake team that made the finals of the Ambassadors to Moscow competition three years ago, only to fall one spot shy of a trip abroad.

The six-round battle of brainpower focused not only on Singapore. Participants also had to be up on the history, culture and politics of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Some of the questions came directly from articles that appeared this year in The Times. Aaron Ruckoff, 16, said the team did well, missing only a few questions. The sophomore plans to give it another try next year.

"I'm still very proud of myself for getting that far," he said. "There were really no surprises. Some of the questions we missed came directly from the L.A. Times. Now I know: You have to know that stuff cold."

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