How many adults can say they really know African American history?

Three students who attend Northeast Middle School certainly can.

Jeremy Frye, Dennis Chung and Kayla Becoats, all age 14, will head to New York Wednesday to compete in the national finals of the African American History Quiz Bowl Challenge. Competition begins Friday during the 100 Black Men national conference at the New York Hilton in Manhattan.

The Northeast team beat other Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools to emerge as the only CMS middle school heading to New York.

A second CMS team, made up of two high school students, also will make the trip.

The Northeast team came together through encouragement from their language arts teacher, Heather Stout.

Stout says the students have been studying for the Jeopardy-like competition since November. They’ve prepared for the finals by learning approximately 7,000 questions. Topics include ancient Africa, American history, the civil rights movement and everything in between, including some Greek philosophy.

The students said they’re excited about the trip but not about all the studying they’ve done.

Shante DuBose, a ninth grader at Independence High School, will compete with teammate Charity Cruz of Butler High School.

“It’s an excellent experience because you get to meet different people and learn different things about our history,” said DuBose, who was studying recently with the Northeast team.

The students said they’ve become experts in African American history, and they believe they have a good chance of winning.

The trip won’t be all work, however. The students will cruise around the Statue of Liberty, tour the Apollo Theater in Harlem, visit the BET Studios during the taping of the popular video show, “106 and Park” and see the Broadway play “The Lion King.”

The first-place prize in the high school division is a $1,000 collage scholarship for each student on the team. Top prize in the middle school division is a $500 gift card for each student.

No matter how the students place, Stout says, “I hope the students become friends with one another, meet new people, learn about African American history, become good competitors and take pride in what they’ve already accomplished.”

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