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Home > Clerc Center > Meet the MSSD Academic Bowl team

Meet the MSSD Academic Bowl team

Image: Sara Stallard and Dana Sipek were each recognized as Coach of the Tournament at the awards ceremony.

Sara Stallard and Dana Sipek were each recognized as Coach of the Tournament at the awards ceremony.

Image: The team and coaches on day one of the Academic Bowl.

The team and coaches on day one of the Academic Bowl.

Image: Proud MSSD parents stand behind the MSSD team and coaches after the final match on Saturday.

Proud MSSD parents stand behind the MSSD team and coaches after the final match on Saturday.

Image: President Hurwitz,  Academic Bowl coordinator Sherry Duhon, and provost Steven Weiner congratulate the MSSD on their Second Place win.

President Hurwitz, Academic Bowl coordinator Sherry Duhon, and provost Steven Weiner congratulate the MSSD on their Second Place win.



4-16-12 (MONDAY) Playoff Brackets and National Championship

The final day of the Academic Bowl arrived with the playoffs, the quarterfinals, semi-finals and finishing up at 8:00 p.m. with the championship match.

The MSSD team gathered at 1:00 p.m. for the first match of the day against Kansas School for the Deaf with the three rounds of questions format. The final round focused on a category of "Deaf Studies" with questions related to acronyms in Deaf culture. After winning that match 61-30, MSSD moved up to the next bracket for the quarterfinals against Hinsdale South High School, scoring 55-27. The round was marked by several disputes on both sides about punctuation in answers, neither team fared well in responses to the final round of questions asking for the authors of short stories. The MSSD team advanced the semifinals against University High School with a close match that ended with 10 questions about the locations of national monuments, the scores was 54-47.

After all the semi-finals were finished, two teams left to face off at the national championship level were MSSD and the Maryland School. The two schools often considered chief rivals in athletic competition this time met as academic competitors at the Academic Bowl finals held at 8:00 p.m. in the Gallaudet University Field House.

The bleachers were filled to near capacity with the teams, coaches, friends, and family members. Gallaudet fraternity members volunteered as ushers. The match was broadcast live. Coming into the Championship Match, both teams had won all their previous engagements. MSD was the reigning champion from 2011, where MSSD had placed third.  MSD got off to a quick start in the first round and established a strong lead; MSSD made a valiant effort to close the gap but could not turn it around. The match ended with MSD 71 to MSSD's 59.

The awards ceremony followed, led by the Gallaudet University Academic Bowl coordinator Sherry Duhon who announced she is retiring from her post after 16 years. Gallaudet University president Alan Hurwitz praised all the players for their amazing responses, reading and responding to questions, "in a half a second." He said seeing all these young and bright deaf and hard of hearing students gave him hope for the future.

The MSSD team was recognized in three special ways:

  • Second Place Winners of the Academic Bowl
  • Coaches Sara Stallard and Dana Sipek each named Coach of the Tournament
  • Lauren Berger and Eric Epstein were selected as two of 16 All-Star Players

Congratulations to the MSSD team and coaches for your outstanding accomplishments at this year's Academic Bowl.


4-15-12 (SUNDAY) The Pools

6:00 p.m. overview

The springtime Washington temperatures climbed towards the 80's today as the Academic Bowl heated up, too, but our MSSD team kept cool under the pressure, winning each of the matches they played today. The team played in the National Pools competition today with a total of SEVEN matches. The team had an extra boost of support from their parents and some siblings attending tin the audiences.

Onwards towards the final day of competition tomorrow. Best of luck.

Here are the results of today's matches: 

  • MSSD vs. ILSD 60-25
  • MSSD vs. EDCO 65-41
  • MSSD vs. AZSD 80-36
  • MSSD vs. RHS 63-30
  • MSSD vs. MLHS 61-8
  • MSSD vs. NMSD 51-31
  • MSSD vs. JHHS 46-24


4-14-12 (SATURDAY) The Pools

 6:00 p.m. overview

The sun shone on all the teams today on the campus of Gallaudet, and our MSSD team shone in every match they played today. The teams competed in a demanding round of five matches each. Team member Emmanuel Njoku said after one of the morning matches, "Our five months of daily practice has really paid off."  Lauren Berger shared that the teams will be attending a performance of Hamlet tonight at Gallaudet.


Here are today's results:

  • MSSD vs. Cumberland County High School 78-13
  • MSSD vs. Upper Arlington High School 60-22
  • MSSD vs. CCHS 28-12
  • MSSD vs. Oregon School for the Deaf 68-20
  • MSSD vs. Tennessee School for the Deaf 66-22


 4-13-12 (FRIDAY)

6:00 p.m.

The MSSD team made a clean sweep of today's matches.  At the 2:00 p.m. match against The Learning Center, Gallaudet University president Alan Hurwitz and his wife Vicki and the vice president of the Clerc Center were in the audience.  Sometimes there is a dispute about what is the correct answer. In this match MSSD team member Eric Epstein asked for a ruling on his answer for the formula for the circumference of a circle. When there is a dispute the moderators check with a central authority, after which the answer given by MSSD was deemed correct and points were awarded.

Here are the rest of today's results:

  • MSSD vs. The Learning Center 65-29
  • MSSD vs. RSD 59-16

1:00 p.m.

The Academic Bowl competition is underway on April 13, with 320 deaf and hard of hearing students competing from79 different high schools in the U.S. and Canada. The teams enjoyed an opportunity yesterday to mingle and meet, do some sightseeing, and have fun activities with the teams competing in each one of the eight pools of ten teams each. The MSSD team is assigned to the "Krug Pool."

Our own MSSD team has gotten off to an excellent start winning its first two matches:

  • MSSD vs. Oklahoma School for the Deaf (OKSD) 65-18
  • MSSD vs. SELACO (South East Los Angeles County) 52-14

Each of the preliminary matches on Friday consists of three rounds. The first round is lightning fast, with whoever buzzes in an answer first. The second round allows both teams to submit an answer to each question. The final round, each team responds on paper to a series of questions.

Follow the full results at the Academic Bowl website 


Gallaudet University is hosting the 16th Annual Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students from around the country, and this year even a team from Canada. The Model Secondary School for the Deaf will be represented by students Lauren Berger, Eric Epstein, Emmanuel Njoku , and Brennan Terhune-Cotter, and coaches Sara Stallard, MSSD English teacher, and Dana Sipek, teaching fellow at the Clerc Center.

Gallaudet established the Academic Bowl in 1997. The competition consists of a question and answer game of general knowledge and quick recall. Questions are drawn from the following categories: history and government; language and literature; science and technology; geography; mathematics; the arts; deaf studies; current events; and pop culture, leisure, and sports.

Keep up on the scores on the official Gallaudet University Facebook and Twitter pages. The final tournament events, including the 3rd/4th place match, the national championship match, and the awards ceremony, will be streamed live online. For more information, visit the Academic Bowl website.

Team Member Bios

Lauren Berger, senior from Penfield, N.Y.

Hobbies/interests: Snowboarding, reading, sports, Academic Bowl
Favorite academic subjects: English, U.S. History, and PE
Academic Bowl experience: MSSD team from 2011-12
Favorite author and/or movie: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick
Career goal: Something to do with law; wants to major in political science and linguistics in college
Goal for performance at 2012 Academic Bowl: End the season with the winning Bowl trophy

Eric Epstein, junior from Tucson, Ariz.

Hobbies/interests: Writing and performing
Favorite academic subjects: English
Academic Bowl experience: Formed a public high school team at Tucson Area Public Schools (TAPS) that ran for two years; got to eighth place before transferring to MSSD
Favorite author and/or movie: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Career goal: Writer, social activist
Goal for performance at 2012 Academic Bowl: Win the championship

Emmanuel Njoku, sophomore from Washington, D.C.

Hobbies/interests: Reading, running, roller-blading, biking, Academic Bowl
Favorite academic subjects: Chemistry, biology, and English
Academic Bowl experience: Second year involved with Academic Bowl, first on the developmental team (2010-11) and now on the team (2011-12)
Favorite author and/or movie: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Career goal: Pediatrician
Goal for performance at 2012 Academic Bowl: I want to contribute as much as I can to the team, and win the Bowl!

Brennan Terhune-Cotter (Team Captain), senior from Takoma Park, Md.

Hobbies/interests: Reading, swimming, running, Academic Bowl
Favorite academic subjects: English, psychology, and PE
Academic Bowl experience: Academic Bowl team member 2009-12; four years as team captain
Favorite author and/or movie: Dune by Frank Herbert
Career goal: Clinical psychologist
Goal for performance at 2012 Academic Bowl: To do the best we can; ultimate goal: the championship Meet the MSSD 2012 Academic Bowl Team

Practice and Preparation

This year's MSSD Academic Bowl team has gone all out in practice and preparation. "Last year, Dana (Sipek) and I had quite a few coaches ask us about team practices. In some mainstream programs, they can only manage to meet once a week," said Sara Stallard. "Here at MSSD, the team is so highly committed that for the first time since I arrived here four years ago, the team members did not participate in winter sports, which gave us that two hour block of time typically reserved for athletics, so we've been having practices on Mondays through Thursdays for five months now."

One of the ways some of the Academic Bowl teams prepared was to have practice matches via VP (videophone). "I think there are about 10 or so schools out West who hold matches regularly via VP and they call this the WABL (Western Academic Bowl League). Maryland School for the Deaf and MSSD have been trying to get more Eastern teams together for regular matches but no luck with that so far. We had a visit from the Rockville High School team last month, and we also played Kansas School for the Deaf via VP," said Stallard.

On Tuesday, April 10, the MSSD team competed in a friendly practice match with three former Academic Bowl contenders: Ando Ferguson and David Warn, who represented California School for the Deaf 2000-2001 and 1999-2000, respectively, and Drew Robarge, who represented Indiana School for the Deaf from 2001-2003. The match ended with 89-83, favoring the MSSD team.