03 April 2006


Jim Rink (313) 336-1513

1) You can see the world’s tallest lighthouse in:

A. Canada
B. The United States
C. Italy
D. Japan
E. Alexandria

2) Where could you see Crater Lake?

A. Colorado
B. Arizona
C. New York
D. Oregon
E. California

These are the kinds of questions that faced Melissa Lavoie as part of the 2006 AAA Travel High School Challenge. Lavoie, a sophomore at the International Academy in Birmingham, Mich., matched her travel geography wits against fellow students from across Michigan to take home the state title.

This May, Lavoie will travel to Orlando, Fla. to compete in the national finals for a chance at a $25,000 college scholarship. 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. The contest challenges students’ knowledge of U.S. and world geography, with an emphasis on travel and tourism destinations.

Lavoie won the state contest by first placing among the top five scorers in the state in the online first round of the contest. Then, Lavoie scored the highest on a 40-question written, proctored exam taken by the five state finalists. Nationwide, nearly 60,000 students in grades 9-12 participated in the contest.

“Melissa has an impressive knowledge of worldwide destinations and geography,” said Claire Lockley, Assistant Vice President of Travel for The Auto Club Group (ACG). “Winning the state title is an especially noteworthy achievement at her young age. She will compete with the some of the country’s sharpest students during the national competition in Orlando.”

“It’s great to see so many students excelling in their travel and geographic knowledge,” added Lockley. “These skills make Travel Challenge participants the perfect candidates for future careers in the travel industry.”

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.

The top two teams of three will then compete in a final contest, with winning team members each receiving $25,000 scholarships and runners-up receiving $10,000 each.

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. Sponsors include: Holland America Line, Universal Orlando, Pleasant Holidays, Marriott, Continental Airlines, MBNA America and Hard Rock Live.

Answer key: 1) D, 2) D