The 17th Annual National Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing High School Students took place at Gallaudet’s Elstad Auditorium March 9 to 12. For the fourth consecutive year, Maryland School for the Deaf (Frederick) emerged as the winner in a hard-fought championship round against University High School (Irvine, Calif.), which took home second place. Tucson Area Public Schools (Arizona), won third place, and Indiana School for the Deaf (Indianapolis), placed fourth.

This year’s competition, which brought 20 teams from across the nation to the Kendall Green campus, was sponsored by Purple, Gallaudet University, Bon Appetit, the Kellogg Conference Hotel, and the Frank B. and Alice C. ’30 Amann Fund. Five regional competitions were held this winter, and first- through fourth-place teams from each regions competed in the national contest.

Gallaudet established the Academic Bowl in 1997 with the goal of fostering the pursuit of academic excellence, promoting a spirit of academic competition and sportsmanship, and providing social opportunities for the development of collegiality and lifelong friendships. The competition consists of a question and answer game from the following categories: history and government; language and literature; science and technology; geography; mathematics; the arts; deaf studies; current events; and pop culture, leisure, and sports.

In addition to sharing in the victory with his teammates on winning the National Championship Title, MSD senior Ethan Sonnenstrahl gained the added distinction of receiving the Most Outstanding Player Award. “Ethan made history, because last year he was the first player to have won three championships, and this year he made history again being the first player to have won four championships,” said Jesse Saunders, Youth Programs and Outreach coordinator.

The Team Sportsmanship Awards went to Kansas School for the Deaf (Olathe) and the Learning Center for Deaf Children(Framingham, Mass.). These awards go to competitors who exemplify the qualities of cooperation, hard work, extra effort, friendliness, fairness, good attitude, and commitment to teamwork.
Coaching awards were presented to Kay Anderson and Scott Kramer from University High School. “I’m very touched to win this award,” said Anderson, who has coached the team for six years. “It’s not easy to be a coach,” Kramer said. “You need a lot of energy to work with the team on their emotional, mental, and physical states–and on their leadership.”

President Hurwitz presented All-Star Awards to six individuals: Eric Epstein, Tucson Area Public Schools; Prachi Kochar, Rockville High School(Maryland); Colin Lualdi, The Learning Center for Deaf Children; Lauren Putz, Hindsdale South High School (Darien, Ill.); Joshua Skjeveland, Indiana School for the Deaf; and Ted Zoerner, University High School. These awards recognize demonstrated characteristics of knowledge, flexibility, and team spirit.

“The National Academic Bowl brings the best and brightest deaf and hard of hearing high school students to our campus to compete, and I am always impressed by the intellect and maturity the teams possess,” said President Hurwitz. “The students put a great deal of effort into preparing for the competition throughout the school year, and despite who takes home the National Championship Title, every team is a winner and their hard work and dedication must be celebrated.”

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