By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY September 24, 2002 Do you know all the words to the Star Spangled Banner? How about naming at least five members of the Supreme Court?
It was questions like these that had the teenagers in Fridays Senior Sullivan County Interacademic League (SCIL) meet scratching their heads and racing around Hanofee Park in Liberty for the answers.
The students were on the trail of a Message to Garcia, the name of a color war project from Monticello teacher Peter Weinmans youth.
As a child at camp in Maine, Weinmans favorite event of the year was always the Garcia race, a relay filled with challenges academic, athletic and creative.
Based on an essay by Elbert Hubbard, children at Fridays event were encouraged by the race to take responsibility for themselves and tackle the tasks at hand.
According to Weinman, who created Round One of this years SCIL, the essay was set in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, and a trusty messenger was sought to carry a message to Garcia, the leader of the rebels hiding in the mountains of the Hispanic country.
Its about doing your job and getting it done, Weinman explained. Nowadays, no one takes responsibility for their actions.
To incorporate the spirit of a SCIL event, Weinman developed questions on everything from the national anthem to SAT math and skipping rocks in the pond at Hanofee Park to challenge students brains.
Kids got to work in pairs, listing the artists who performed Layla and Stairway to Heaven, or working backwards from George W. Bush, to list every president weve had over the past 10 terms.
The students who werent busy answering questions in the 30 different categories gathered under the pavilion at the park to study Hubbards story and develop their own skit, somehow embodying the spirit of A Message to Garcia.
And to incorporate the relay portion of the challenge, schools were instructed to send their best athletes to hit foul shots for every question they answered wrong.
The added twist to the regularly brainy competitions had many of the teams on their toes.
I like it because theres basketball, noted Amanda Krom, a member of the Tri-Valley team. Its something I can do.
Its not just a thinking competition, added Sabrina Reimer of Sullivan Wests Delaware Valley team. Its also physical.
It gives people who are creative a chance to do something, and people who are athletic a chance to do something, added Reimers teammate Kate Humleker.
According to Weinman, the competition has been under consideration for years ever since he began working with SCIL through his position as Monticellos coach.
The advantage to a Message to Garcia for the students is the open-air setting and the many subjects the project incorporated.
Its very open-ended, he noted. They can do what they want with the skit, and theres creativity involved, some athleticism.
I just hope its a nice day, a fun day.
By the end of the day, the scores were tallied, and Liberty walked away with the first win of the season with 200 points.
Monticello came in second with 199 followed by Tri-Valley with 198. Sullivan West placed fourth with 184 points, and Roscoe came in fifth with 171 points.