SMART STUFF: County teams advance to Academic Super Bowl state final

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Mt. Vernon’s Ethan Murphy, Jackson Champion and Maitlyn Grinner exhibit an array of emotions during the math portion of the Academic Bowl at Greenfield-Central High School. Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — A meeting of the minds took place at Greenfield-Central High School on Tuesday, April 19, as teams from 11 high schools gathered to compete in the 36th annual Indiana Academic Super Bowl.

Approximately 5,100 students from 260 high schools competed throughout the state in the contest presented by the Indiana Association of School Principals and Purdue University.

Schools were invited to bring multiple teams, each focusing on a specific subject area, including English, math, science, social studies and fine arts, as well as an interdisciplinary team.

Three Hancock County teams qualified to move on to the state competition May 7 at Purdue University, including an English team from Mt. Vernon High School and both a fine arts team and science team from Eastern Hancock High School.

“It was a great event,” said Maranda Anderson, who serves as the Quiz Bowl coach and academic team coordinator at Greenfield-Central High School.

The Indiana Academic Super Bowl was founded in 1987 by the Indiana Association of School Principals.

The contest was created to give high-achieving students the chance to challenge themselves by delving deeper into topics which change annually, taking them beyond what is usually covered in the classroom, as stated on the organization’s website.

A junior-level competition takes place each spring for students in grades 6-8, followed by a senior-level contest for students in grades 9-12.

The topic at this year’s senior competition is “Canada: Our Neighbor to the North.”

Andy Shorts, the academic team coordinator at Eastern Hancock High School, said the annual competition gives students a chance to challenge themselves, and have fun doing it.

“Several of the topics in the academic team competitions are above and beyond the normal curriculum, and these students like to push themselves,” said Shorts, who saw two of his teams advance to state.

The teacher said he’s proud of his team members’ determination and drive to prepare to compete against other high-achieving students from other schools.

“We have been participating in virtual and in-person meets with the Eastern Indiana Academic League since January to help us prepare,” said Shorts.

The students also prepare by reviewing video lectures, practicing together after school and studying key facts on their own.

Lauren Silcox, who competes on the English and fine arts teams for Greenfield-Central High School, said she loves the chance to test her knowledge in a competitive environment while spending time with friends.

“We meet weekly with our respective areas and study via the study guide provided by the state. Each area or subject has its own set of materials that questions could be asked about at the upcoming competition. For English we get to read poetry, short stories and a novel,” said Silcox, who also competes on Greenfield-Central’s track team.

Much like sporting events allow students to compete by showcasing their athletic skills, the academic bowl allows team members to flex their intelligence and knowledge.

“It showcases their content knowledge and their ability to work with a small group. It requires a lot of reading, a lot of weekly study,” said Anderson, who has enjoyed helping students learn all they can about Canada this year.

On Tuesday evening, the 11 competing schools gathered in Greenfield-Central’s gymnasium to answer questions based on all things Canadian, from literature to science to fine arts.

Anderson said the students who compete are motivated by a love for learning, but that doesn’t mean they’re only focused on academics.

“We have all kinds of students participating. We’ve got kids in band, kids in robotics, kids in track and choir,” she said.

A complete list of Tuesday’s statewide Academic Super Bowl results can be viewed at IASP.org.