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Marion hosts county-wide quiz bowl

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COUNTING DOWN: Grant County fourth grade students (from left) Tanner Gardinier, Charlie Stepp, Abby Winchester and Wyatt Williams await the start of theDART quiz bowl.
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DOUBLE ELIMINATION: Fourth grade student Tanner Gardinier from Northview Elementary School listens to Judge Mark Spitzer read off a question during the2019 Grant County Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Awareness Quiz Bowl.
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TRUE OR FALSE: Fourth grade student Wyatt Williams fromPark Elementary School answers a question during the first round of the 2019 Grant County Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Awareness Quiz Bowl.

BY Emily Rachelle Russell - erussell@chronicle-tribune.com

Over 25 students in grades four through seven from every public school corporation in the county, Faulkner Academy and St. Paul Parish School answered questions about alcohol and substance abuse at the 2019 Grant County Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Awareness Quiz Bowl at McCulloch Junior High School Thursday night. 

The Drug/Alcohol Resource Team (DART) has put on the event for over two decades. Local businesses and organizations sponsored gifts for all the competitors and prizes for the winners.

Judge Mark Spitzer emceed with Judge Dana Kenworthy and Ann Vermilion, director of medical staff services and community outreach at Marion General Hospital, as “celebrity judges.”

Two winners in each of two divisions took home prize packs worth over $200. Division I covered fourth and fifth grade students and Division II sixth and seventh grades. All four winners will advance to the regional competition in Fort Wayne on April 27, where a Grant County student won last year.

This is MCS’s second year hosting the event, according to Title I Secretary Diana Spitzer.

“We think it’s important for the kids to participate in this type of event,” said MCS Chief Academic Officer Michele Smith.

The students in Thursday’s county-wide competition were the top two winners of each of their local school competitions.

Spitzer has been involved with this event for years. He believes Grant County’s number one criminal justice problem is drug use.

“One of the things that the students have to do when they come into this competition is they have to learn about illegal substances and drugs and addictive substances and the impact that that can have on their life,” Spitzer said.

The competition is a fun, kid-friendly way to educate young students on these dangers of drug use and how addiction can change their lives, he explained.

Northview Elementary fourth grade student Charlie Stepp competed at the county level after winning his school’s competition. He explained that questions come from a study guide distributed to all the participating students.

The purpose of the event from Stepp’s perspective is to teach kids not to do drugs. He said he finds the competitions fun and exciting.

DART Board Member Cathy Griffin assisted with the event. She sees the quiz bowl as one part of parents’ and teachers’ responsibility to teach children about drugs and alcohol at a crucial age.

“It’s one of those things that we as parents, as educators, as community members need to take an active role in, making sure our kids know (about drugs and alcohol),” Griffin said.

It’s important for children to have accurate, complete information and for parents to talk with their children about these things, she added.

The DART Board is seeking community members to join their work of volunteering and fundraising for drug and alcohol prevention, judicial work and treatment. One example of recent DART work was the purchase of breathalyzers for the Upland Police Department.

People with a legal background and members of the clergy are especially encouraged to apply for membership, which requires eight meetings a year and some volunteer work as available.

“(We want) anyone who shares the passion for helping those in our community who face drug and alcohol issues,” Griffin said.

Community members who want to support DART’s work can donate to the group at GiveToGrant.org/DART.