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Model Secondary School for the Deaf (Washington, D.C.) won the 18th Annual National Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing High School Students hosted by Gallaudet University April 5 through 7. The school has now won a total of three National Championship Titles in 2000, 2001, and 2014 and five regional titles in 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2014.

The MSSD team was composed of four senior students: Emmanuel Njoku (captain), Leah Frechette, Bradley Munday, and Matt Thompson. Teachers Sara Stallard and William Jennison served as the team’s coaches.

Njoku, who also captained last year’s team, said this year was particularly sweet. “We were thinking ‘Go big or go home’ this Academic Bowl season.” This was his third year representing MSSD as an Academic Bowl player, “It has been a spectacular experience. I got to learn a lot more about teamwork and commitment while also discovering the more enjoyable side of academics. Speaking of teamwork, to quote Malcolm Forbes, I’d like to thank our coaches and each other; we came to learn how to think independently together. I’m proud of my team for all we’ve accomplished in Academic Bowl and I’m looking forward to seeing what we will accomplish in the future!”

Frechette was recognized as one of the All Star players. “As we came into the championship match, our goal was to remain calm and do the best that we could, and to remain positive. The fact that we won using our teamwork is a point of pride for me,” said Frechette. “I met so many amazing people from other states at the competition, and I believe that it’s worth going and competing solely for the experience itself rather than with an aim to win. Although, I wouldn’t recommend not competing seriously – it’s a challenge and a mental exercise!

Each school puts in many hours of practice to prepare for the matches, under the guidance of their coaches. “We knew we had a championship quality team during tryouts in September,” said MSSD coach Stallard. “We practiced strategies and techniques for bonus answers and the third round segment when they would have to answer questions within a time limit. The players listened to us coaches and to their two other teammates, Jonah Strom and Brianna Keogh. Our advice and support was taken to heart and they used every bit of strategy we gave them. Teamwork was the hallmark of our success.

“Our students represented us phenomenally in all facets of the competition, both during the games and in their interaction with students from other schools, with parents in attendance, and with various constituencies on the Gallaudet campus,” said Clerc Center Vice President Ed Bosso. “Congratulations to the players and the coaches on winning the championship.”

Hinsdale South High School (Darien, Ill.) won second place, Indiana School for the Deaf (Indianapolis, Ind.) took home third place, and W.T. Woodson High School (Fairfax, Va.) placed fourth.

Gallaudet University established the Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing High School Students in 1997. The competition consists of a question and answer game of general knowledge and quick recall. Questions are drawn 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. This year’s tournament hosted 20 deaf and hard of hearing high school teams from around the country. Five regional competitions were held this winter and the first, second, third, and fourth place teams from each region competed in the national competition.

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.

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