13 February 2006


Jim Rink (313) 336-1513

Five Michigan high school students have advanced as state finalists in the AAA Travel High School Challenge. The students will match travel wits and destination knowledge against each other in the state finals next month to win a $1,000 U.S. savings bond and a trip to Orlando, Fla., to compete for more than $100,000 in scholarships and prizes in the national finals.

The finalists are: Kimberly Davies, a senior at Detroit Country Day School in Novi; Michael Kelmenson, a senior at West Bloomfield High School in West Bloomfield; Melissa Lavoie, a sophomore at International Academy in Birmingham; Miles Strebeck, a senior at Bridgman High School in Bridgman and Colin Treacher, a senior at Vandercook Lake High School in Jackson.

“These students are at the head of the class with their knowledge of travel and tourism topics like culture, transportation and geography,” said Linda Woolwine, president and COO of AAA Michigan. “Their interest in the world around them will help them succeed as adults. We’re excited that one of them will represent Michigan in the national finals.”

The students advanced to the state finals by placing among Michigan’s top five scorers on an online test. In early March, they will take a 40-question written, proctored exam testing their travel and destination knowledge. The highest scorer is crowned state champion and wins a $1,000 U.S. savings bond.

The state champion and a chaperone will receive an expense-paid trip to Universal Orlando to compete against winners from every state and Washington, D.C. in the national finals from May 13-16. The finals begin with a written elimination exam, followed by a game show-style, team playoff competition. First place team members will each win $10,000 U.S. savings bonds.

The contest also includes a new individual round this year that will award a $25,000 scholarship to the champion. In all, the top finisher could win as much as $36,000 in the contest.

Surveys consistently show American students lag behind their global peers in their knowledge of geography and world events. The contest seeks to raise students’ interest in geography by focusing, in part, on one aspect that captures many students’ interest: travel and tourist destinations.

As a leader in the travel industry, AAA depends on travel-savvy employees to serve its members and travel agency customers. The contest is in its fourth year.

Corporate sponsors for the AAA Travel High School Challenge include: Continental Airlines, Hard Rock Live, Holland America Line, Marriott, MBNA America, Pleasant Holidays, and Universal Orlando.