State Board of Education to honor Bellaire HS economics team

Jinchen Zhou, Ridge Liu, Michael Clark, Laura Zhang, Patrick Giradet

Bellaire High School’s economics team won the National Economics Challenge in May, and you can watch the ceremony live online when the Texas State Board of Education honors members at 9 a.m. Friday.

Team members Patrick Giradet, Ridge Liu, Laura Zhang, and Jinchen Zhou beat out more than 1,200 teams from 40 states to claim the title in a quiz-bowl live on CNBC. The students, who have since graduated, spent an average of 15 hours a week preparing for the competition and skipped their prom to be there. They each received a $1,000 award and rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange within a few hours of their win.

“The students were elated,” said Michael Clark, the team’s coach. “I think we all felt the competition showed us that we could compete with the best students in the nation and come out on top. It helped us realize that no matter what your goal is in life, hard work can help you achieve it.”

Clark said he has taken eight teams to the national competition during his time at Bellaire HS. He involves his entire AP economics class in the process of preparing for the Challenge.

“Everyone gets to compete against each other in our class before moving on to state and national levels.”

The Challenge encourages students to apply their knowledge of economics in teams and to solve problems on microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics, and current events. At the national level, teams have to complete rounds of testing, solve case problems, and compete in a quiz-bowl.

The students from the winning team are on their way to college. Girardet and Liu will be attending Rice University, Zhang will be exercising her economics skills at Stanford, and Zou will be headed to Yale this fall.