Academic team claims second consecutive state title

By Bev Woodruff, Staff Writer

In a time when much attention is focused on under performing schools, Union County High School's English Academic team just brought home its second consecutive state title.

The team qualified to compete in the 25th Annual Indiana Academic Super Bowl State Finals by performing well throughout the competition season. They capped a strong performance all season by scoring the highest of all Class 3 teams at the Regional competition last month.

The Academic Super Bowl is a statewide competition focusing on English, math, social studies and fine arts. Teams also compete in interdisciplinary competition that includes questions from each subject area.

Last Saturday, May 7, the team journeyed to Purdue University to compete in the academic super bowl. The six-member English team was part of 5,426 students from 293 high schools who participated in the area competition last month. Of those 293 schools, only 24 were privileged to be represented at the state finals last Saturday, and thanks to a tremendous team effort UCHS was one of those two dozen schools. Those teams came from a total of more than 38,000 students who began competitions earlier this year.

UCHS English Academic Team members are: Ann Barrett, Tiarra Clarkston, Lauren Gilliland, Molly Mescher, Jonathon Roberts and Coty Wyatt. The team is coached by UCHS English Department Chair Karla Barnhizer.

Barrett is a senior who plans to attend IU East to pursue a nursing degree and graduate nursing administration. She is the daughter of Jim and Dodie Barrett.

Clarkston is a senior who plans to attend IU Bloomington to pursue a degree in Spanish. She is the daughter of Tom and Theresa Clarkston.

Gilliland is a senior who plans to attend Purdue University to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering. She is the daughter of Dale and Kathy Gilliland.

Mescher is a junior. She is the daughter of William and Susan Mescher.

Roberts is a sophomore. He is the son of Gary and Alice Roberts.

Wyatt is a junior. He is the son of Randy and Pam Wyatt.

Although other UCHS academic teams have previously won state championships: fine arts in 1990; science in 1993; social studies in 1996 and interdisciplinary in 1999, until last year an English academic team had not won a state championship. With back to back wins in 2010 and 2011 the English team has made its mark in UCHS Academic Team history. Barrett, Clarkston and Gilliland competed on the championship team last year and obviously knew from experience what it takes to win a championship.

The theme for the 2011 Academic season was Latin America. Preparation for competition involved studies of one novel, more than a half dozen short stories and 15 poems. Team members met twice a week for an hour or two throughout the season. Each team member contributed to the study of the material. When the team qualified for state they began meeting everyday. Barnhizer said team members have to know all the material, including information about the authors of the novel, poems and short stories.

Although the team consists of six members, for each competition only three can compete. Last Saturday, Barrett, Gilliland and Roberts represented the team, with full support from the other team members.

"We had faith in them throughout the entire competition," Wyatt said. "They weren't leading until toward the end, but we had faith in them all the way."

Barrett, Gilliland and Clarkston competed on last year's state champion team.

"It was different this year," Gilliland said. "Last year we were just thrilled to be at the state. This year there was more pressure to win."

Barrett said it wasn't all pressure.

"It was still a lot of fun, it wasn't all pressure," Barrett said.

The state competition questions and answers were handled electronically, which was different than the rest of the season. Questions were flashed onto a screen and the question was read. Multiple choice answers also appeared on the screen. Competing team members had 20 seconds to select an answer. Each answer and status of scores immediately appeared on the screen.

Some questions are very obscure, Barnhizer said. According to Roberts, one poem was later made into a song. One of the questions at the state competition was who recorded the song.

Since the English competition was held first, those teams had to deal with the added pressure of bugs being worked out of the electronic system, Barnhizer said.

Monday evening when the win was announced to the Union County College Corner Joint School District Board Barnhizer credited a couple of things for the win.

"It's a tribute to motivated students and supportive parents," Barnhizer told board members.

Tuesday during an interview with the team, Barnhizer said the win reflects a lot of effort.

"These young adults not only represent the high school, but that number of teachers, over the years, who have instilled in them the desire to learn," Barnhizer said.

Some of the student got cards from elementary teachers wishing them well in the state competition.

"All along the way there have been teachers and of course dedicated parents who have supported these students," Barnhizer said.

According to Barnhizer the senior members of the team Barrett, Clarkston and Gilliland have been excellent leaders.

"There is no sense of 'I am a senior and I am entitled' with these seniors," Barnhizer said. "Whatever is good for the team they will do."

Pictured Top: UCHS's Indiana Academic Super Bowl State Champion English Team celebrates their win on Saturday, May 7. The championship is the high school's second consecutive English state title. Pictured left to right are: Ann Barrett, Molly Mescher, Tiarra Clarkston, Coty Wyatt, Jonathon Roberts, Lauren Gilliland and coach Karla Barnhizer. The theme of the 2011 academic competition was Latin America. Pictured Bottom: UCHS State Champion English Academic team members left to right are: Lauren Gilliland, Ann Barrett, team coach Karla Barnhizer and team member Jonathon Roberts. Barrett, Gilliland and Roberts were chosen from the six person UCHS English team to compete at the state championship super bowl on Saturday May 7. They were supported by fellow team members Molly Mescher, Tiarra Clarkston and Coty Wyatt.



Wow! What an accomplishment! Not one State Title, but two!!! We should throw a parade for these students! Great job!!!!!

Ann Tobin