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Editorial: High school champs come in many forms

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When local high school athletes earn state titles, we single them out. It takes a combination of natural skill combined with good coaching and countless hours of practice to achieve the result.

This is no less true for academic state champions, and Johnson County had not one but two teams earn state titles in the Academic Super Bowl this year — Center Grove High School in fine arts and Edinburgh Community High School in English.

In both cases, last year’s competitive experience influenced this year’s performance.

Last season, Troy Smith, Aaron Estes and Vaughn Knutson, members of Center Grove’s Fine Arts Academic Super Bowl team, placed last in the regional competition for its class. But this year, they still wanted to set their goal high.

“I was just hoping for not last place,” team coach and Center Grove High school teacher Adam Gaff said.

They wanted to make it to the state finals. So this year, the three seniors started studying for the season during the fall semester, months ahead of their first competition in March. On May 10, they were named state champions during their division’s final competition at Purdue University.

The Indiana Academic Super Bowl’s competition categories include social studies, math, English, science, fine arts and interdisciplinary.

Super bowl teams receive a list of topics to study, similar to a syllabus, at the start of the school year. The team competes in an invitational in March before moving on to a regional competition in April. In the competition, the students are shown bits of art, listen to audio samples, are asked questions or receive a problem to solve. Then, they have a few seconds to confer before answering or responding.

The English team from Edinburgh Community High School also came home a champion in Class 4. The members were Brianna Frost, Melissa Bryant, Nichole Creekmore and Alvaro Garcia.

The school’s team was a finalist in last year’s competition. The members were able to draw on that experience to capture the title this year.

The Indian Creek High School team was the runner-up in the Class 3 science competition.

In each case, these team members studied and practiced and were battle-tested, just as their classmates on the courts and fields. And their accomplishments are no less significant.

We salute these students. The skills they have acquired and the dedication they have shown in pursuit of the goal of a state championship will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

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