Hillcrest Elementary wins Black Saga Baltimore County championship

Hillcrest Elementary School finished first in the Baltimore County Public School's Black Saga Competition last weekend for the third consecutive year.

The Catonsville school sent two teams of students to the Feb. 23 competition at Randallstown High School.

In addition to the championship squad, the other placed fourth of the 10 teams that qualified for the competition based on their earlier showing in the regional bracket.

"It's exciting. I'm very proud of the students," said Lisa Black, Black Saga coordinator at Hillcrest.

The Black Saga competition is the brainchild of Charles Christian, a professor at Coppin State University and author of "Black Saga: The African American Experience."

Students must be prepared to answer more than 800 questions about the black experience in America and teams begin practicing early in the fall.

Black said students must memorize 400 facts in addition to becoming familiar with photographs, famous quotes, locations and court cases relating to black history in America.

At the competition, teams are only asked 10 to 12 questions from that bank of information.

"You've got to know them all because you don't know what they're going to pick," Black said.

She said she enjoyed watching the six students, three on each team, collaborate to produce answers to the questions they have been studying since the fall.

"In the competition they were very supportive of each other," Black said. "They talked their questions over before they gave their answer."

This is the third consecutive year Hillcrest has won the county championships.

County schools have taken part in the competition since the 2003-2004 school year, according to a county press release.

Westchester Elementary School, another Catonsville area school, finished second in the county in 2007 and a team from Westowne Elementary in Catonsville also finished second in the county in 2009.

Westowne was county champs in 2010, before Hillcrest began its streak of success.

Black said both teams will go to the statewide competition March 16 at Towson University.

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