Students from Fort Mill and Indian Land schools showed off their academic acumen at the second annual South Carolina State Championship of Academics held March 19 at Winthrop University.
The Fort Mill High School Academic Team won the Division I title against Wilson High School, Indian Land Middle defeated Williams Middle for the Division I championship title and Fort Mill Middle won the Middle School Division II championship match against Hickory Tavern.
Indian Land and Fort Mill middle schools were the regional champions, and Indian Land High School won the Olde English regional championship but fell to Pee Dee regional champs Lake View High School in the High School Division II semifinals.
In Division II, Lake View High School went on to win the title against Mid Carolina High School.
The event was the finale to a three-month competitive season of quiz-bowl-type contest in which students answer questions from an array of academic subjects.
“The purpose is to truly celebrate and promote academic achievement in the same way in which society supports athletic development,” said Michael W. Fanning, Ph.D., executive director of the Olde English Consortium, which sponsors the competition.
Questions ranged from “convert the number of stars in the U.S. flag to a binary number” (answer: 110010) for high school students to “what brass instrument resembling a tuba is named for the American ‘March King?’” (answer: Sousaphone) for middle-schoolers.
In High School Division I competition, Fort Mill rallied late in its semifinal match to defeat Western Piedmont regional champs Laurens High School. The Pee Dee region’s Wilson High School defeated Lugoff-Elgin from the Midlands to advance to the state championship match.
In the championship match, Fort Mill came from behind in the first round to tie the score by the end of the second and took the lead in round three, ending the match with a 33-30 win against defending state champions Wilson High School.
Fort Mill High School team captain Joseph Downs took time between matches to explain some of the secrets to his team’s success:
“A lot of it is just general academic knowledge,” he said.
“Paying attention in school and actually remembering all the things we do, especially in our history classes. I think all of us are fairly well read.… It’s just confidence, really. One of the biggest problems in practice is that people will know the answer but not buzz in. It’s just a matter of getting to the point that if you know it, you know you know it.”
For their part, Fort Mill’s champion scholars are being treated like conquering sports heroes.
“After we won the regionals, literally every teacher that I had congratulated me on it,” Downs said.
“We’re so proud of our students,” FMHS Principal Dee Christopher said following Fort Mill’s championship match.
“The Academic Team is a team just like any other team. They work hard and they practice hard. They went undefeated for the season. We’re very proud of them.”