Centennial flexing academic muscles

May 18, 2007|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,sun reporter

Centennial High School flexed its academic muscles last weekend when it won the Baltimore metropolitan region "It's Academic" championship. Tomorrow, the three-member team will attempt to defeat teams from Washington and Virginia in the "It's Academic" Super Bowl.

The competition, which begins at 11:15 a.m., will be held at the WRC-TV station in Northwest Washington.

Centennial team members are seniors Faith Zhang (captain), who will attend Harvard in the fall; Ari Seifter, who will attend the University of Pennsylvania; and Shyam Srinivasan, who will attend California Institute of Technology. The team's alternate, senior Kriti Gandhi, recently competed in the "Jeopardy!" teen tournament, which will air this summer. She will attend McGill University.

"I keep telling them to breathe," said Stan Eisenstein, a physics teacher at the Ellicott City school who has coached the team the past two years. "As the competition gets deeper, I tell them not to second guess themselves. The key is to stay with - hang with - everybody else. If you stay relaxed, you win."

"It's Academic" has been on the air since 1961, making it television's longest running quiz show, according to the Guinness World Book of Records. The competition pits three-member high school teams against one another during the school year until teams are whittled down to the final three.

Eisenstein said the team has prepared for the competition by watching past tapes of "It's Academic" programs. He said team members have been focusing on the timing of their responses.

"Most of the competitors know most of these answers," Eisenstein said. "The question is when they know the answers."

Centennial advanced to the Super Bowl by defeating Dulaney and Parkville high schools Saturday in the Baltimore regional championship. The victory also earned the school $5,000, which will be used in part for academic programs, Eisenstein said.

"This is a very strong team," he said. "They were all on the team last year. "They have a lot of experience. They have been training for four years at least."

The winner of the Super Bowl receives a trophy and a $10,000 scholarship from George Washington University. The second- and third-place teams receive $5,000 scholarships. The scholarships are given to the schools for academic programs.

"It's more for the honor," said Eisenstein.

The Baltimore regional championship will air June 23 on WJZ-TV at 10 a.m. The Super Bowl will air June 30 on WJZ at 10 a.m.

Centennial has won the Baltimore championship three of the last five years and took the Super Bowl in 2005.


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