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When Scott Paper Company unveiled Delco Hi-Q as a community relations project in 1948, the company had built itself into the nation’s largest paper manufacturer on the strength of product innovation and a “big picture” approach to its market.

The innovator of paper towels – a stride forward in public sanitation – was joined in its home city of Chester and the Delaware River waterfront by other forward-thinking manufacturers – from A.H. Wirz’s collapsible metal tubes changing the tooth paste industry and WWII battlefield applications to Sun Oil’s catalytic cracking making 100 octane aviation fuel possible for the war effort.

While the industrial landscape of Chester and Delaware County has changed, the 2019 All Delco team of the academic competition Scott Paper spawned – today the nation’s oldest – continues to take an erudite approach to their academic and extra-curricular activities that strengthens their performance on the Hi-Q stage.

The All-Delco Hi-Q Team is made up of an outstanding member from each of the 21 competing teams chosen by their faculty adviser. From language-learning to theater to volunteering at zoos and aquariums, the All Delco competitors see a big picture when shaping their education.

Haverford High School senior Andrew Borbi was named All Delco in his first full year as an on-stage competitor. Serving as a substitute his junior year, Borbi had an unconventional introduce to on-stage competition in the post-season.

“I competed in the national championship but not any other meets,” he said. “There was a band trip to Disney and we were missing two people from the starting lineup. The team needed two subs to fill in – I was one of those people.”

Borbi used his skills in team cooperation, and further honed his other extracurricular pursuits to prep for his national champion appearance and 2019 Hi-Q season. “Hi-Q is a lot of working together,” he said. “No one person can memorize all that information and study all those sources. We have to rely on each other.”

While thinking of pursuing a path in the medical field, Borbi has also used time at Haverford spent outside the classroom to dive into financial education with Junior Achievement, a nationwide business experiential learning program. The Haverford chapter created a brand, Embark, that encouraged people to “take advantage of the opportunity they have each day.” The group sold T-shirts and water bottles to promote proactive behavior. “People sit around a lot nowadays … go to the gym, go make a difference, volunteer – don’t dream about it, take advantage of the opportunities you have,” he said.

Along with giving the group’s investors a return on their money, the group’s sales for this year also benefitted a charitable donation to a program discouraging teenage violence. After-school sales were supplemented by an employee sales day the group coordinated with an Aqua America office.

Outside of high school, Borbi has also volunteered with TOP Soccer, a program for developmentally disabled children created by a friend’s family.

“It’s a good impact on (the participants) and myself and other volunteers, too,” he said. “We play about an hour on Sundays. The kids get to go out in the sun and get some exercise they might not have otherwise.”

Borbi will attend the University of Pennsylvania next year. He’s currently undecided on a major, but interested in the bio-physics program with a pre-medical track.

Junior Alicia Morgan of The Christian Academy has also taken advantage of volunteer opportunities during her time in high school. Her work with her Girl Scout troop at home in the Overbook section of Philadelphia will earn her and a fellow troop member the Union League of Philadelphia Good Citizen Award at a ceremony May 1.

“We’re ready to step up and help someone who needs it,” said Morgan. “I always volunteer to help lead the Daisies with their troop meetings; at their sleepovers at camp. I take them outside for nature badges.”

Her time in the TCA drama program and Hi-Q has taught Morgan to step up when in the spotlight as she has with her volunteer work.

“When I was in Hi-Q last year, I’d be so nervous to answer a question because I’d be wrong and look stupid,” she said. “I learned when I guessed I could be right… I learned to not to be afraid to take on leadership. ”

Morgan’s willingness to “get out of (her) shell a little more, speak up and help others” came at a crucial time for the team, as the squad from the small private school found itself with seven members this season, four of whom were new. “Three of those four new people don’t haven English as their first language,” said Morgan, as the team welcomed three TCA international students.

“I’m really, really proud of my team … bonding over random facts we never thought we’d need to know in life,” she said.

Hi-Q has benefited Morgan’s learning both in and out of classroom curricula. Along with exposing her to short story literature and current event topics not covered in her classes, her assigned U.S. history category this season overlapped with her AP U.S. History course. “I feel like I really got lucky with my topics … my (history) teacher would be talking about something and I’d think ‘oh yeah, I learned that in Hi-Q.’”

Academy Park junior Kramoh Mansalay has balanced his team captain responsibilities on Hi-Q with a range of outside learning pursuits. Along with following in his polyglot parents’ footsteps in learning the French, Arabic and Mandingue languages, he has furthered his horticultural interest by raising orchids.

Introduced to an American Orchid Society program by teacher Colleen DiMaggio, Mansalay has placed in competitions at the Philadelphia Flower Show, Philadelphia Junior Flower Show and a Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society event.

“I’m having a great time doing it – going to all three shows and hearing experts’ ideas on flowers, experiments and genetics,” Mansalay said.

Along with his learning pursuits outside the classroom, Mansalay has taken on leadership roles at school including the presidencies of the Class of 2020 and the African Students Association. Mansalay was a charter of member of the latter group last academic year, serving as its first secretary. As a member of the Interact Club, he has performed community service projects including Toys for Tots collections, bake sales and a bi-annual blood drive.

“One thing that is really paramount about a good leader is being a good team player,” Mansalay said when asked how his leadership roles has impacted his Hi-Q team captain performance. “You need to understand the role you play and be a good listener. Your team is only as strong as your weakest link – keep an ear open so you can strengthen everyone on the team.”

Currently looking at Johns Hopkins, New York University and University of the Sciences for a chemistry major and minor in marketing before considering medical schools, Mansalay also hopes to add travel as an supplemental learning tool.

“Why not go to the West Coast and see what all the excitement is about?,” he said. He also hopes to visit Europe and Africa to see the different legal and healthcare systems on those continents. “I’m always interested in seeing how other countries differ from us,” he said.

Part of those interests came from his topics in Hi-Q showing him the links between seemingly disparate subjects.

“Chemistry, history and government – seeing how the three of them tie together is fascinating,” Mansalay said, discussing the advancements in science and medicine and how they have shaped public policy and discourse.

Penncrest senior and co-captain Renea Briner recently took advantage of travel as a learning experience, speaking with the Times a day after returning from her school language department’s biennial immersion trip to Costa Rica.

“We learned a lot of Spanish,” Briner said of the time spent on both volunteer and recreational activities. The trip included visits to a shelter for teenage mothers, planting trees for reforestation, a tour of a pineapple planation and a visit to an indigenous tribe where students learned about medicinal plants.

Hands-on learning is familiar to Briner, who has prepared for a future in the marine sciences with volunteer work at the Philadelphia Zoo and the Adventure Aquarium in Camden. “I’ve been going to the zoo since I was little,” she said. “There were the people standing there talking about the animals and what you could do to make a difference – I always looked up to them.” In ninth grade, Briner discovered a volunteer opportunity with the Zoo Crew, learning that was the group we admired as a child. “I went back around to what got me into animals in the first place,” she said.

Briner then began volunteering with Adventure Aquarium summer camps. “It’s a rewarding experience, seeing (children) get excited about those things just like I did when I was little,” she said, noting the challenges of getting children engaged with squid dissections. “Some of them get really grossed out but some get really into it – it’s a split classroom.” The dissection allows campers get hands-on with marine biology by writing their names with the pen and ink sack of the squid. “They think it’s the coolest thing ever and I do too. Even if they weren’t a fan of the dissection, they get excited about that part.”

At Penncrest, she recently helped launch an inaugural Pi Day (March 14, or 3/14) event as president of the National Mathematics Honor Society chapter.

“We never had a big event (compared to other honor societies). We handed our pies for Pi Day to students who get a math problem right. We helped them if they didn’t get it, so it was also a tutoring session,” she said. “I really hope they continue it – it can only get better.”

Volunteer work and officer positions have taught Briner how to work with different individuals and play to their strengths, which she has applied to her co-captaincy. “We find what (study strategy) works for everybody and make sure they’re on top of that,” she said. Briner noted her own challenges this year with the newly revamped geography category.

“We didn’t know how to approach it … it was studying a straight atlas instead of a textbook with maps and information,” she said. “I’m a very visual learner, I redrew the maps the best I could … and my teammates would ask me random questions describing an area.”

The time spent studying and competing has Briner a bond with her teammates and the Hi-Q she hopes to continue into her time in college. “I love them all so much – every meet with them is a highlight, even if we don’t win it’s great to spend with them,” she said. Briner has not finalized her college choice but is most focused on University of Delaware for marine science. “I’m thinking about double majoring in psychology or neuroscience after taking AP Psychology, and UD allows me to do that.”

She also noted the close proximity of the university to home. “I could always come and watch still watch my Hi-Q matches,” she said. “I love them all and I want to give that support to my teammates. We’ve had alumni come back and it means so much to know their watching and they care.”

The members of the 2019 All-Delco Hi-Q team will be feted at the annual Partners in Education Celebration Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Drexelbrook. Sponsors include Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union, The Henderson Group, Delaware County Intermediate Unit, Kimberly Clark and the Daily Times. Reservations at fmfcufoundation.org.

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