It's academic

Howard County : Local high school team wins popular television show's regional championship.

June 13, 2000

IT'S UNUSUAL for high school students to become campus celebrities for winning an academic competition. It's unusual for a school to choose three sophomores to represent it on the "It's Academic" quiz show and for their adviser to be an auto mechanic, who works after school eight hours a week with the 12-member quiz show club.

And it's unusual for a Baltimore-area team to win the regional "It's Academic" Super Bowl.

But all this has happened at an Ellicott City school. In a competition taped May 20, the Howard High School team of Kyle Burkhalter, Patrick McKinney and Rebecca Lambert beat teams from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George's County and Robert E. Lee High School near Staunton, Va., to win the title.

This academic Super Bowl has been held annually since 1972, but Baltimore-area teams have won just a handful of times. When Howard High took the competition just before the buzzer, it brought the title to this area for the first time in eight years. The victory will air June 24 on WJZ-TV (Channel 13).

"It's Academic" awards teams of high school students points for correctly answering questions on history, geography, literature, current events, math and science. Eighty-one Baltimore-area schools - public and private - participated in the competition.

To reach the regional final, Howard High won five rounds of competition against area schools, defeating Catonsville High School and a favored team from Centennial High, in the area final.

The three Howard High sophomores joined the academic squad as freshmen. Under the supervision of adviser John Gilbert, whose day job is as an auto mechanic, they and other team members practice two to three times a week after school, studying, answering questions and running mock competitions, and participate in other academic competitions.

To see students work so hard to push the academic envelope, and be rewarded with a high-profile triumph is unusual, and satisfying.

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