Martin Luther King High School Wins 2016 Tennessee International Affairs Championship

Students demonstrated global issues awareness earning trip to Washington national match.


WorldQuest Winners, students (L-R, front) Jocelyn Hartley, Regan Goodrich, Kevin Gomez, April Townson and teacher/coach Catherine Kelly. Also (L-R) TNWAC President Patrick Ryan, Council members Jim Knight and Meredith Kilburn; Board Members Prof. Susan Haynes, Amb Dick Bowers, Prof Jeff Overby, Dr. Chuck Womack and Prof Debbie Barnard.

Nashville – Feb. 22, 2016 – It took an intense, three and a half hour contest, answering 100 questions on ten global affairs topics in a competition among ten teams from three states for four students from Martin Luther King, Jr., Magnet High School in Nashville to emerge as the WorldQuest Tennessee State Champions and earn a trip to the World Affairs Councils of America national competition in Washington, DC.

The competition, organized by the Tennessee World Affairs Council and hosted at Belmont University on Sunday afternoon, pitted MLK High School seniors Regan Goodrich and Rachel Townson, sophomore Kevin Gomez and Freshman Jocelyn Hartley, against a well-prepared field of students. Team coach, veteran teacher Catherine Kelly, said, “The WorldQuest competition was a wonderful experience.” She credited Lipscomb University senior Elizabeth Ashwood, who co-coached the team, with thoroughly preparing the MLK team.


Tennessee World Affairs Council President Patrick Ryan said, “The Martin Luther King High School students were ready and did a great job against very tough competition.” He said the ten teams that competed came from Nashville, Franklin, Chattanooga, Atlanta and Huntsville. “This is the first year we had out of state teams compete in our match. The councils in their area didn’t offer WorldQuest and it was easy for us to welcome them,” Ryan said, “Our objective is to encourage as many people as possible, regardless of state lines, to try to better understand the important issues and challenges America faces in the world.”

The student teams and audience were welcomed to Belmont by Dr. Jeffrey Overby, Director of the Center for International Business and a Council board member. He noted the importance of a well-rounded understanding of foreign affairs for them to be successful in academic and professional endeavors. Overby told the students, “I’m glad you’re here at Belmont today for this competition and I applaud your hard work and interest in international affairs.”


WorldQuest is a quiz bowl-like flagship program of the Tennessee World Affairs Council, a Nashville based nonprofit educational association that develops programs to educate and inspire people to understand global issues. The competition runs year round with teams engaging in reviewing study guides, engaging in practice matches and keeping up with current international events in the news. The ten rounds of questions came from categories such as: NATO, Asia Matters for America, International Trade and Finance, the Sultanate of Oman, Privacy in the Digital Age, The Arctic, Food Security, the Organization of American States and current events.

The winners of competitions from among the 96 independent councils around the country will meet in a match at the National Press Club in Washington, DC organized by the World Affairs Councils of America on April 23rd to determine a national champion team. The Tennessee WorldQuest winners from the Martin Luther King High School will be escorted to Washington by Tennessee Council staff to the national match as well as a full schedule of visits to international affairs related venues like embassies, think tanks, Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, NGOs and other destinations where they will gain insight into the world of foreign affairs.


Ambassador Charles Bowers, a member of the World Affairs Council board and a judge at Sunday’s WorldQuest match said, “The fact that we had 40 students from three states come out on a Sunday afternoon for a program that encourages global affairs awareness was wonderful and bodes well for America.” He applauded the teachers who organized WorldQuest in their schools and noted, “It has grown and will continue to grow.”

A team from the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology who traveled from Atlanta took second place honors in the match and a team from the Randolph School in Huntsville placed third. Other schools in the competition included Montgomery Bell Academy, which had taken the most recent two Tennessee WorldQuest titles, The McCallie School in Chattanooga, and Centennial High School in Franklin.


The World Affairs Council’s programs are open to all schools and community members. Ryan said, “We have our work cut out for us to connect with more schools around the state, especially in our home town of Nashville.” He added, “We want to make sure we share programs like WorldQuest with more than one Nashville public school.” Ryan noted, “The World Affairs Council was founded several years ago to provide additional resources and programs, especially for schools as we all strive to be good citizens with a solid understanding of critical global issues.”

The Tennessee World Affairs Council is an independent, nonpartisan educational nonprofit that promotes public education. It’s international affairs programs, like the recent town hall meeting with the Russian Ambassador, are open to the public. More information is on the Council’s Web site,


The Tennessee World Affairs Council is a nonprofit (501c3), nonpartisan educational charity based in Nashville that works to build understanding of global issues in our communities. Learn more about the Council and find how you can join, donate and volunteer at:  

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