(LOS ANGELES, March 29, 2006) — Andrew Lai, a senior from Whitney High School in Cerritos, matched his travel geography wits against students from across California to take home the state title in the fourth annual AAA Travel High School Challenge. This May, Lai will travel to Orlando to compete in the national finals for a chance at the national title, a $25,000 college scholarship, and additional prizes.
"With surveys showing American teens trailing their international counterparts in geographic literacy, it's great to see students like Andrew excelling in their travel and geographic knowledge," said Auto Club Spokesperson Carol Thorp. "He will compete next with some of the nation's brightest students during the national finals in Orlando."
The AAA Travel High School Challenge aims to increase teens' travel knowledge and geographic literacy while creating awareness of career opportunities in the travel and tourism industries.
With more than 50,000 ninth–12th-grade students registered across the country for the online portion of the competition, Lai placed among the top five scorers in the state. Then Lai scored the highest on a 40-question written, proctored exam taken by the five state finalists. The state exams challenged students' knowledge of U.S. and world geography, with an emphasis on travel and tourist destinations.
The finals will be held May 13–16 at Universal Orlando and will begin with a written elimination exam, followed by a series of round-robin, game show–style playoffs to determine national team champions. Then, for the first time in the event's history, the competition will move to an elimination round to select one overall national champion, who will receive a $25,000 college scholarship. Second- and third-place winners will receive $15,000 and $10,000 scholarships, respectively.
The AAA Travel High School Challenge, designed by AAA Travel and travel industry educator Dr. Marc Mancini, will award more than $100,000 total in scholarships and prizes. Sponsors include: Continental Airlines, Holland America Line, Marriott, MBNA, Pleasant Holidays, Hard Rock Live and Universal Orlando.