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Brain power pays off

Smithsburg High team repeats as county academic champions

Smithsburg High team repeats as county academic champions

March 26, 2006|By MARIE GILBERT

For seven months, they honed their competitive skills and factual knowledge.

There were hours of research, studying and practice.

There also was a determination to win.

On Saturday morning, three students from Smithsburg High School rose to the challenge, capturing first place in the 10th annual Academic Team Championship.

The event, which was held at Kepler Theater on the campus of Hagerstown Community College, was hosted and sponsored by Washington County Public Schools and featured teams of students from each public high school.

Kirk Livers, 17, Umar Qadri, 16, and Usama Qadri, 17, were members of Smithsburg's winning team.

Placing second was North Hagerstown High School, while third place went to South Hagerstown High School.

The competition, which featured three preliminary rounds leading to the championship round, followed the fast-paced format of the television show "It's Academic."

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Students displayed their academic prowess by answering questions that covered a wide range of subjects, from math and science to literature and current affairs.

Use of scrap paper, pencils and mechanical devices, including calculators, was prohibited.

Hagerstown Trust Co. provided a total of $3,600 in scholarship awards to the champion and runners-up in each preliminary round, as well as each participating school in the championship round.

The Hagerstown Community College Foundation Inc. awarded a $500 scholarship to the team from Clear Spring High School as the top scoring nonfinalist.

Beth Dundus, the Smithsburg team's adviser, said this is the second consecutive year her team has taken home the championship.

"We're ecstatic," she said, following the awards ceremony. "This is two years in a row with the same three students. It's quite an honor."

Dundus said preparation for the competition began in September, when a call went out for volunteers interested in participating as team members.

Then the hard work began, with practices after school and individual research.

"We also played a lot of games, from Trivial Pursuit to making up our own questions," she said. "We even watched 'Jeopardy!' and 'It's Academic.'"

Livers, a junior, said it was a great feeling to win two years in a row.

"We've really worked hard as a team and it's great to see our work paid off," he said.

Now, the team is ready to relax.

"Our adviser is going to take us out for pizza," Livers said. "It's a tradition."

Elizabeth Morgan, Washington County superintendent of schools, said she was very impressed with the competition.

"I think those people who work with me know how much I enjoy events that showcase the talents of our students," she said. "It's exciting to see the wonderful learning that's taking place and exhibited here today."

Serving as moderator for the Academic Team Championship was Will Kauffman, school communications and Web coordinator for the Washington County Board of Education.

The second-place team members from North Hagerstown High School included Hemu Arumugam, Brandon Brown, Steve Hutzell and Mary Kavanaugh.

Team members from third-place South Hagerstown High School included Mike Dunham, Zachary Ficklin, Justin Higgins, Sarah Ofuso-Ameyaw, Megan Sensenbaugh, Mark Dunham, Jin Xiao and Jennifer Young.

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