020818 Education: It’s still bowl season for academic teams
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Charles Swenson/Coastal Observer

--> Education: It’s still bowl season for academic teams

By Emily Topper
Coastal Observer

With mere seconds to answer questions, Waccamaw High School’s academic bowl team didn’t have time for doubt. Hands above the buzzers, they knew when to let their answers fly.

“A cast member speaking to an audience in a play is said to be breaking the fourth … ”

Buzz.

“Wall.”

When they knew, they knew. In a practice with Brad Kibler, social studies teacher and academic bowl coach, Waccamaw’s six-member team correctly answered 21 of 27 questions.

Waccamaw High and Waccamaw Middle students have been exercising their brains and thumbs as they prepare for their respective academic bowl team competitions next week. The middle school competes Tuesday; the high school on Thursday. Both are hoping to keep their winning streaks alive: the high school has won four of the last five years, and the middle school has won the last seven years.

Brad Kibler, a social studies teacher at Waccamaw High School, has taken a team to the Senior Academic Bowl for the last five years. This year’s team is relatively young, comprised of seniors Hunter Cline and Matt Maixner, sophomores Wade Maring, Jack Congdon and Covey Loftus and freshman Jackson Barnes.

In his first year coaching, the Waccamaw team lost. Kibler is determined to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“One we lost,” Kibler said. “It’s burned into my head. That was the first year, five years ago. We were up by two games, and we lost both games in overtime by one point. That was crushing.”

The schools will compete in rounds of questioning on topics ranging from social studies to language arts to math and science before a winner is declared.

In the early rounds, students buzz in as much as possible. The buzzes become riskier as schools enter the lightning round, where a wrong answer automatically gives a point to the opposing team.

Still, the high school team has been preparing for months. The final six team members were chosen in mid-January from 20 who competed for places. By now, they’ve learned to identify their teammates’ strengths.

“Current events are really important,” Maixner said. “And then current events from 600 years ago are also very important.”

Maixner hasn’t competed with this team before, but was on the academic team in both elementary and middle school.

“I got busy during high school,” he said. “My class load lightened and I have a passion for it, so I decided to try out this year.”

“We turn to Matt for current events and economics,” Cline said. “We ask Jackson for social studies and geography questions. I’m the math one. Wade is there for fantasy and sci-fi-type questions. And Covey is for everything.”

Team members rely on information they learn in classes to prepare for practice rounds and the competition. They pick up additional facts through trivia games and reading. In competition, staying calm under pressure is key.

“You’ve got to keep your cool,” Cline said.

To prepare his students for the competition, Kibler uses questions from the previous year for practice.

“I have questions all the way back to the 1990s,” he said. “I have plenty of sets to choose from, but I chose these because they have the current events in them.”

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