FHS Academic Team matches wits with area schools

FHS Academic Team matches wits with area schools

Academic Team members Maggie Penick, Cameron Neiheisel, Sam Barton and Tessa Kellner compete against Springboro earlier this year.

This is the ice breaker. The players are barely in their seats, but the first couple of points in this competition could make all the difference. The competitors’ hands grip their buzzers as they anticipate pressing the red button.

“Pythagorean Theorem,” shouts a player.

“Correct! Two points for Fairmont.”

Now this may not seem like your typical high school competition. Instead of dunking or kicking a ball to earn points, students use only their intellectual powers and quick reflexes to score.

This is the Academic Team at Fairmont. They compete with different teams around the community in a Jeopardy-style contest complete with time limits and buzzers. They may not get as much recognition as many sports at Fairmont, but that doesn’t mean the competition isn’t just as fierce.

Being a member of the Academic Team is almost like having an extra class; members even hit the books to do some reviewing before a competition. “They study very hard and put in a lot of extra time out of the classroom to study for competitions,” said math teacher Bill Buirley, who is the group’s adviser.

Fairmont sophomore Sam Barton enjoys being a member of the Academic Team and feels he is gaining an abundance of knowledge along with making new and fun memories.

“The whole process is really fun and we all have a good time. I definitely learn so much from competitions, and I’ve formed some great friendships as well,” said Barton, who was on the JV team this year.

Academic Team is basically a winter “sport.” On most Tuesdays, the eight members of the Varsity and JV teams meet to practice. Many team members have full schedules, but they still meet with Buirley to put in some extra study time and stage mock contests to prepare themselves as well as they can for the actual competitions.

The team even has a GWOC record (yes, they attend GWOC, too). Two years ago, the Fairmont Varsity Academic Team brought home the title of GWOC champions.

This year, they put their wits to the test against many area schools at the conference on March 3, 2012, at Beavercreek High School. The team placed 9th overall, with Varsity losing their first two rounds to Miamisburg. The Junior Varsity Academic Team won three competitions and placed 4thoverall.

Many academic team members were anxious but excited for this event. “At GWOC, I think we all did a great job and pulled through our best,” said junior Tristan Buirley, who is on varsity. “Even though we didn’t do as well as we all hoped, I am still proud of the team.”

Members say that they do have a touch of nervousness before a competition, but support from teammates keeps them going.

“When I first started on the Academic Team, I was always really nervous before we competed,” said junior Kaitlin Allard, who also is on the varsity team. “But after I started to make friends, their support and relaxed attitudes helped the jitters go away.”

Barton loves the support he receives from his teammates.

“I usually never feel that nervous when competing because everyone is so relaxed, but focused as well. I have definitely made some great friends, and I am excited for the year coming up. It’s going to be a great one; I just know it,” said Barton.

With a relaxed atmosphere and great support from fellow students, the Academic Team has made a name for themselves this year. Even though they didn’t have the best of records compared to past years, having fun and forming friendships seems to be some the most valuable elements of the season.

“I’m proud of our season, even though it wasn’t our best,” said Allard. “But our hard work showed at GWOC.”

In addition to Tristan Buirley and Kaitlin Allard, members of this year’s Varsity Academic team are juniors Cameron Neiheisel and Tessa Kellner. In addition to Sam Barton, the JV squad consists of juniors Saleh Hindi, Ashley Overbee and Maggie Penick.

Students interested in participating next year should contact Bill Buirley in Room 104.