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Mission Viejo Student Wins Super Citizen Crown in Quiz

TIMES STAFF WRITER

About 50 students from high schools across Orange and San Diego counties matched wits Saturday in the regional contest of the California Citizen Bee, a tense, four-hour competition that tests knowledge of U.S. history, geography and current events.

David Chihorek, 17, a Mission Viejo High School senior, won the competition after correctly identifying a speech by former President Woodrow Wilson. Ryan Hamilton, 17, a senior at Dana Hills High in Dana Point, finished second when he missed a question regarding last year’s gubernatorial race in Texas.

Tri Nguyen, 18, of Saddleback High in Santa Ana was third.

At stake were cash awards totaling $1,000 and a chance to represent the region at the third annual California Citizen Bee contest in Los Angeles next month. The contest, which culminates in a national Citizen Bee competition, is designed to foster understanding of issues affecting the United States, past and present.

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Sponsors asked that specific questions used during the competition not be published so they can be used in other contests.

As anxious parents and teachers watched Saturday, students nervously took turns at a microphone and fielded questions ranging from names of presidential assassins to constitutional amendments. The number of competitors began to dwindle quickly.

Chihorek, who plans to attend UC Berkeley in the fall, received a cash award of $500 for his first-place finish. He said he will probably use the money to buy a computer for college to help with his creative writing.

Hamilton has also been accepted at UC Berkeley, where he plans to major in physics. His second-place award of $300 will go toward his college tuition.

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“I figured (the competition) was pretty much a losing cause, because usually I don’t do well in history and government,” said Hamilton, an Eagle Scout who spends his spare time riding his mountain bike. “I was just hoping that I’d remember the answers.”

Saddleback’s Nguyen, who hopes to study computer engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, won third after a stiff runoff.


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