Harlan academic teams earn first place honors

Published 12:31 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Two high achieving academic quiz bowl teams earned top honors recently at regional competitions.

Harlan High School’s Academic team defeated four teams and placed 1st in the JV Challenge recently hosted by Perry Central and Harlan Middle School placed 1st in 6th Grade Showcase hosted at Harlan Middle School, competitions that are part and parcel of the Governor’s Cup.

Governor’s Cup encourages depth and breadth of academic knowledge, cultural literacy, teamwork, leadership, creativity, risk assessment, and critical thinking, and provides the fun that comes with being part of a team. Established in 1985, KAAC now serves over 20,000 students and nearly 1200 schools at over 400 competitions each year.

The Junior Varsity Challenge is a competitive opportunity designed for Kentucky’s ninth and tenth grade students, who sometimes are “lost” between the middle grades (6-8) and high school (9-12) Governor’s Cup Competition. Teams compete in “sections” of up to 8 teams each.

“JV Challenge was our first in person competition in almost 2 years, so there were a lot of nerves in getting back on our feet. But they had worked hard and in the end of the competition, they were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor,” Harlan’s Coach Rebecca Gross said.

Longtime academic team mentor Emily Clem added, “These events are designed to keep students in sixth grade interested in academic team competition. For this competition, they study subject material that is above grade level, so they learn a lot and have a good time doing it.”

JV Challenge is solely for freshman and sophomore students with six who participated in quick recall and 11 who competed in testing areas. These academic all-stars meet every morning for quick recall practice before school with after school practices sprinkled in.
“Our students haven’t been able to participate in academic competitions in person since before the pandemic,” Gross said. “We took the time to reflect on a lot of our strategies and have really reevaluated our goals. They’ve learned to set their sights high and push themselves to be the best they can be.”

Gross recalled one special moment where she saw a kid’s eyes “light up” during training or competition

“Seeing some of those who had doubted they would even place amongst the top five receive first place was so encouraging to them,” she said. “Just being able to be together with other schools and doing what we love for the first time in so long was rewarding.”

Meanwhile, Harlan’s 6th grade team also showcased its academic prowess by defeating several rivals in the Sixth Grade Showcase, an academic event designed to provide a competitive opportunity for Kentucky’s sixth graders, who are sometimes “lost” between elementary (4-5) and middle grades (6-8) Governor’s Cup competition.

“The moment when we won the quick recall portion of the competition and it was the first time these students had beaten Middlesboro in quick recall in years, so it was a great moment for them,” Middle School Coach Chris Day said.