Soaring high! MSSD wins 2014 National Academic Bowl championship
The all-senior MSSD team proudly brought home the championship from the 18th annual National Academic Bowl hosted by Gallaudet University from April 5-7. Teams from 24 schools across the country competed in the nationals with a total of 96 players.
In an exciting finish to a great performance throughout the tournament, the MSSD team clinched the championship over Hinsdale South High School from Illinois. The MSSD team was composed of Emmanuel Njoku (captain), Leah Frechette, Bradley Munday, and Matt Thompson, and coached by teachers Sara Stallard and William Jennison.
Njoku, who also captained last year's team, said this year was particularly sweet. "We were thinking 'Go big or go home' this Academic Bowl season." This was his third year representing MSSD as an Academic Bowl player, "It has been a spectacular experience. I got to learn a lot more about teamwork and commitment while also discovering the more enjoyable side of academics. Speaking of teamwork, to quote Malcolm Forbes, I'd like to thank our coaches and each other; we came to learn how to think independently together. I'm proud of my team for all we've accomplished in Academic Bowl and I'm looking forward to seeing what we will accomplish in the future!"
Frechette was recognized as one of the All Star players. “As we came into the championship match, our goal was to remain calm and do the best that we could, and to remain positive. The fact that we won using our teamwork is a point of pride for me,” said Frechette. “I met so many amazing people from other states at the competition, and I believe that it's worth going and competing solely for the experience itself rather than with an aim to win. Although, I wouldn't recommend not competing seriously – it's a challenge and a mental exercise!”
The Academic Bowl consists of a question and answer game of general knowledge and quick recall. Questions are drawn from: history and government; language and literature; science and technology; geography; mathematics; the arts; deaf studies; current events; and pop culture, leisure, and sports. Questions also include recent events to test students on current affairs – for example, focusing on the mysterious disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines plane.
Each school puts in hours and hours of practice to prepare for the matches, under the guidance of their coaches. “We knew we had a championship quality team during tryouts in September,” said MSSD coach Stallard. “We practiced strategies and techniques for bonus answers and the third round segment when they would have to answer questions within a time limit. The players listened to us coaches and to their two other teammates, Jonah Strom and Brianna Keogh. Our advice and support was taken to heart and they used every bit of strategy we gave them. Teamwork was the hallmark of our success.”
MSSD has won two national championship titles (2000 and 2001), and five regional titles (1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2014). “Our students represented us phenomenally in all facets of the competition, both during the games and in their interaction with students from other schools, with parents in attendance, and with various constituencies on the Gallaudet campus,” said Clerc Center vice president Ed Bosso. “Congratulations to the players and the coaches on winning the championship.”
Congratulations to all the competing teams and the other place winners: Hinsdale South High School (Illinois) in second place, Indiana School for the Deaf in third, and W.T. Woodson High School (Virginia) in fourth.