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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Academic All-Stars: Students shine in club competition

Science Olympiad - Neb Mammo
Science Olympiad – Neb Mammo (Courtesy @wjscioly)
Science Olympiad

WJ Science Olympiad (SciOly) has started off this season strong, placing second overall at the 2024 University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Science Olympiad Invitational Tournament on Jan. 13. Notably, students placed first in categories “Disease Detectives,” “Fermi Questions,” “Microbe Mission” and “Write it Do it.”

“I thought it went pretty well, all events worked very hard and their high placings are representative of the detail put into preparing,” Co-President junior Meley Ghermay said.

Throughout the year, SciOly has been preparing for tournaments by studying for 23 different events; each event corresponds to a specific scientific category, which smaller groups of students are sorted into. To prepare for competitions, event groups meet once a week to learn event-related content and organize review sessions.

“We also have ‘Study Parties’ the Friday afternoon before each Saturday tournament, where competitors specific to each competition can prepare final materials and touch base with their teammates for each event,” Ghermay said.

Coming up, SciOly has several competitions they will participate in, including the Princeton Invitational Tournament on Feb. 3, the Montgomery County Regional Tournament on Feb. 10 and the Fairfax Invitational Tournament on Feb. 24.

“I feel confident in the preparation of our team members and I think that all the preparation that has been happening since this fall is coming together,” Ghermay said.

Math Club

This year, WJ Math Club has been active not only in competing at math meets but also in spreading a love of math as a club.

So far, they have participated in several math competitions. Notably, several members reached the second round in both the UMD-sponsored competition and the AMC 10/12. The UMD meet, held on Oct. 18, consisted of two rounds of competition. The AMC 10/12, held on Nov. 14, consisted of a multiple-choice exam for participants to take individually and covered topics from trigonometry to advanced algebra.

“We had many people attend both [competitions]...but whether they did well or not, they gained a good understanding of how this higher-level kind of math can be used, even if it's not taught in school,” Co-President senior Charles Brenner said.

Currently, members are preparing for multiple upcoming competitions, including the Montgomery County Regional Math Meet Final, in which math teams from around the county will compete at Wootton on Feb. 21. Other events include the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford math tournaments, which will be held virtually in March and April, respectively, and the M3 Math Modeling Challenge, which will be held on March 1 and 2, in which teams will be given 14 hours to develop a paper model of a given real-world problem-based data and models. According to Co-President senior Areg Gevorgyan, Math Club has been preparing heavily for the M3 tournament and has studied a lot since their attempt last year.

However, this year, Math Club has been focused not only on competing but also on growing as a club and sharing their interest in math with members. Meeting every Tuesday during lunch in room 241, Math Club offers students opportunities to explore math through presentations and projects, ranging in topics from game theory to probability theory.

“Some of the things we do now is allowing for students to study and present on a cool math subject and a collaboration with MHS to write articles and produce a math journal at WJ,” Gevorgyan said.

Mock Trial
Mock Trial (Liam Barrett)
Mock Trial

Since the fall, the WJ Mock Trial has been preparing its case for the mock civil lawsuit, Parker Harper v. Dakota Reese, with some members arguing for the Plaintiff's side and others arguing for the defendant. The case revolves around an 18-year-old, Parker Harper, who fell off a ladder after the defendant, Dakota Reese, removed the ladder’s shoes. Harper, the plaintiff in the case, is suing Reese for negligence, which Mock Trial members simulate in trials.

Starting the season off, the plaintiff had a trial on Jan. 10 against Rockville, coming out with a win of 145-131, and continued their winning streak with a close win of 136-132 on Jan. 23 against Walt Whitman.

The defense kicked off their season with a trial against Sherwood on Jan. 30, winning with a score of 124-112. The defense will have an additional trial against Northwest on Feb. 6. 

As of now, the WJ team, led by senior captains Allison Xu and Mallory Striplin, ranks second in the Montgomery Country Circuit. The top 16 teams in the circuit advance to playoffs held during the entire month of February that lead up to the Circuit 6 Championship on Feb. 27 at 5 p.m. at the Montgomery County Courthouse. 

“I would say preparing for it is all about focusing on the details we will spend literally an hour on one word choice because everything matters and how you say it when your arguing in court,” Striplin said. 

Debate (Courtesy Wren Weinstein)

WJ Debate closed out their regular season with a meet on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Two WJ debate pairs, juniors Riddhi Sadhanala and Wren Weinstein and Sophie Amalyan and Bella Rose Liu will compete at the postseason playoffs on Wednesday, Feb. 21. 

Between the five regular season meets, where debaters debated twice at each meet, debate pairs were required to have at least six wins to qualify for the playoffs.

As a part of debate, students learn critical research skills, prepare speeches and learn how to persuasively deliver an argument.

Captains Sadhanala and Weinstein qualified for the postseason for the second year in a row.

“My partner and I are feeling pretty good about the playoffs! We know what to expect, and we have a pretty good rhythm on how to prepare for a debate, so we are optimistic and excited to see how things turn out,” Weinstein said. 

DECA - Lenny Yuhi and Guillaume Fradet
DECA – Lenny Yuhi and Guillaume Fradet (Courtesy Lenny Yuhi)

WJ DECA began their annual competition season with three bronze finishes at the regional DECA competition on Dec. 16. Juniors Guillaume Fradet and Lenny Yuhi achieved a joint third place in the Sport and Entertainment Team Decision Making event, a partner event that involves a marketing exam and a marketing presentation before judges. Senior Yashu Jay also secured third place in the Marketing Communications event, an individual event that involves a marketing exam and several marketing role-plays with a judge.

Fradet, Yuhi and Jay are just three of the many competitors from WJ DECA that will compete at the state DECA competition on Feb. 23 in College Park.

“My goal for states is to place top three in my event alongside my teammate Guillaume [Fradet] so that we can set our sights on ICDC which happens April 27th,” Yuhi said.

ICDC, held in Anaheim, California this year, is the DECA International Career Development Conference where state qualifiers compete with international students for the highest DECA titles in their respective events. Last year, WJ sent nine competitors to ICDC, including Jay, and won its first-ever ICDC medal.

HOSA (Courtesy Ethan Miller)

In the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) club, members participate in competitions by taking tests related to a variety of medical professions, choosing from over 50 possible areas of study. 

“I do epidemiology and nutrition, so you’re given a case study and then based on that case study, you are prompted to answer questions about preventative measures or certain statistics associated with epidemiology,” senior Secretary Zuzana Huserova said. 

With the assistance of biweekly meetings, the 15 members meticulously grow their knowledge and preparation for the individually taken tests administered in the first two weeks of January. Based on how many points members score on the OLC, the first round of competition, they can progress to Regionals and then States.

HOSA focuses on teaching students how to prepare and excel in a series of healthcare careers but also provides them with the necessary tools to expand their real-world experiences. HOSA often works with other clubs, such as the Pre-Med club, to host esteemed guest speakers and inform members about pre-med opportunities such as internships. 

“The atmosphere of the club is really good. We usually [meet] once every two weeks, but we [also] go over certain skills, and sometimes [we] host guest speakers and go over a bunch of opportunities to shadow doctors during the school year or during the summer,” Huserova said. 

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Elli Karistinou
Elli Karistinou, Print Feature Editor
Junior Elli Karistinou is thrilled to be a Print Feature Editor for her first year on the Pitch. Elli enjoys hanging out with her sister, bingeing TV shows, and baking.
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Sara Elster, Print News Editor
Senior Sara Elster is looking forward to her first year on the Pitch as a Print News Editor. When not writing for the Pitch, Sara enjoys baking, practicing taekwondo, and hanging out with friends.
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Abby Kee, Senior News Editor
Junior Abby Kee is thrilled to be on the Pitch for her third year as a Senior News Editor. Outside of school, she loves hanging out with her friends and family and playing tennis.
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Senior Geetanjali Raju is excited to participate in her first year with the pitch as a Online News Editor. In her free time, Geetanjali being active, and going out with friends.
Maya Panicker
Maya Panicker, Print News Editor
Junior Maya Panicker is excited for her first year with the Pitch as a Print News Editor. Maya enjoys playing soccer for WJ and going out with friends.
Liam Barrett
Liam Barrett, Podcast Editor
Junior Liam Barrett is the Podcast Editor for his first year on the Pitch, and hosts The Change-Up. Liam is also a member of the Mock Trial and the Morning Announcements teams, and his hobbies include reading and martial arts.
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