It’s Academic remains undefeated

The longest running AHS academic team has begun the season with an 8-0 winning streak. The team of academically adept It’s Academic! students currently hold the district first place position and represent AHS on T.V. with the annual airing of the televised “It’s Academic!” competition. However, the school’s student body remains largely ignorant of their accomplishments.

“Because It’s Academic! doesn’t fall within [typical] preconceptions of the word ‘team,’ we often don’t get noticed by many, despite representing the school each year on TV,” senior Thien Mai, the captain of AHS’ It’s Academic! team, said.

It’s Academic! is an intellectual competition between school teams at district, regional, state and national levels. Each school team is composed of students with an aptitude for academic and worldly knowledge, and a willingness to challenge their skills.

“It’s Academic covers such a wide range of subjects, everything you know is fair game. What was once considered trivia would actually be useful in It’s Academic,” Mai said.

During their scrimmages and weekly Friday practices, the It’s Academic! team members are quizzed on information that “pretty much follows the high school curriculum,” It’s Academic! co- sponsor Meghan Saladino said.

Team members use these practices to train, much like any AHS sport team.

“Getting to compete and relax with friends is a great way to end the week,” Mai said. “The scrimmages and competitions are always exciting because they give you a chance to showcase all of the content you’ve learned.”

“We have to practice and [the members] do have to train,” It’s Academic! co-sponsor Kathlyn Berry said. “They have to learn the rules and know how to respond to questions and we do kind of have some strategies that we try to have the students focus on.”

To help with training, two AHS team members created, a website “which is meant for It’s Academic!-type practicing,” senior Kevin Kwok, one of the website creators, said. Protobowl is “being used nationwide…there are over a thousand returning users every day.”

Even so, practice and independent study is not common outside weekly practices. Most information is learned in the classroom or through questions at practices and scrimmages.

“You can’t really learn to do It’s Academic!; you just have to experience it,” junior Amelie Trieu said.

After schools compete at a local level, they have the opportunity paticipate in the television quiz show hosted in Washington D.C. Competitors from schools in the Washington, D.C. region, the Baltimore metropolitan region, and the central Virginia region are not only battling other teams for their shot to contend on television, but also other team members. School teams may have as many student members as they want, with up to four members participating in a competition.

However, when competing on television, teams are allowed only three coveted spots. Competition for these positions is ambitious, but “it’s all friendly competition,” Trieu said.

Despite their effort and hard work, AHS contenders rarely receive support or even recognition from other Atoms, especially in comparison to the enthusiasm shown for sports teams.

It’s Academic! competes under Virginia High School League (VHSL), the same organization that FCPS sport teams compete under. It’s Academic!, as well as yearbook, chorus, and theater, fall under the VHSL Activities, while sports belong to the VHSL Athletics.

“People often think of a [traditional] sports team when they hear VHSL,” Mai said. “Also, [It’s Academic!] does not have as much name recognition as other non-contact teams such as a debate team.”

“We’re usually seen as a club instead of a team,” Trieu said.

VHSL teams can earn points for their schools to win an award called the Wachovia Cup. Schools can earn points by winning first through eighth place in competitions. Some might assume that his competition is limited to athletic competitions, but points are awarded for VHSL scholastic bowl (the It’s Academic! competition), creative writing, debate, theater and forensics team victories as well.

With their current first place standing, It’s Academic! could potentially earn 50 points towards (AHS ‘s standing in) the Wachovia Cup comptition, as well as respect from their student body.

“I am excited to see our students performing well. We are proud of their efforts in representing our school and community,” Director of Student Activities Karl Kerns said.

It’s Academic! contributes to AHS and its standing in the Wachovia Cup competition as much as any athletic contributor, but has yet to receive much recognition from the AHS student body.