Downingtown East wins state academic competition

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The members of the Dowingtown East High School Academic Competition squad celebrate their 2014 state championship Pennsylvania State Academic Competition awards ceremony. They will compete for the national title next month.

Conestoga HS takes third place in tight competition

HARRISBURG — Bright minds and future leaders gathered in Harrisburg’s State Capitol building to showcase their academic prowess at the 2014 Pennsylvania State Academic Competition on Earlier this month Once again, Chester County proved to be the strongest competitor, with Conestoga High School and Downingtown East High School defeating 16 other teams from across the state to compete in the championship round.

Ultimately, Downingtown East emerged victorious and took home the trophy as the 2014 Pennsylvania State Academic Competition Champion. They will compete in the National Tournament of Academic Excellence (NTAE) on June 14-17 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

“We as a school community are extraordinarily proud of our academic team and our coaches,” said Downingtown East principal Paul Hurley. “We are so pleased that all of their hard work and efforts resulted in the first academic team state championship in school history.”

The state competition began at 9:00 a.m. on May 2 with 19 county academic champions from across the commonwealth. They competed against one another in a series of matches in which teams earned points in order to qualify to advance to the semifinals. Nine teams earned a spot in one of three semi-final matches. The winner of each of those matches advanced to the championship game.

Final score of the championship match: Downingtown East – 95, Emmaus– 70, and Conestoga – 55.

“During the competition, I was on an emotional roller coaster,” said Downingtown East Academic Team Coach Darryl McCauley. “In the finals, when mathematically we had won, it was surreal that it was actually happening. I was so focused on my team during the competition that my excitement was for the team. The gravity of their win and what it means for the entire district is still sinking in.”

Downingtown East team captain Neil Vinjamuri said that a lot of practice and commitment helped earn the team a spot in the semifinals, and ultimately the finals.

“It feels great to make it to this point and we’re grateful for our coach who provides the driving force behind our efforts,” said Vinjamuri,

The journey for Chester County teams started in October 2013 with local competitions between 24 Chester County high schools. In March, Downingtown East won the Chester County tournament and earned the right to represent the county at the state competition. Conestoga secured an automatic berth in the state competition as the 2013 PA State Academic Competition champion.

During the competition, students answered a variety of challenging questions from categories including: literature, science, American and world history, geography and contemporary events. Each match consisted of two rounds with ten toss-up questions for any of the teams to “buzz in” and answer, and six fanfare questions per team, which are to be answered in rapid succession within 60 seconds.

Each of the 29 intermediate units in Pennsylvania was permitted to send one high school academic team to participate in the competition.

Of the 19 participating teams, the nine teams with the highest cumulative scores from two preliminary matches advanced to the semifinals. These teams included: semifinal match #1 – Emmaus (90), Souderton (60), and DuBois (45); semifinal match #2 – Manheim (55), Kutztown (75), and Downingtown East (80); and semifinal match #3 – Conestoga (75), Blue Mountain (60), and Penn-Trafford (60).

For the third year in a row, the Honorable John A. Lawrence of Chester County hosted the Pennsylvania Academic Competition, which is coordinated by the Chester County Intermediate Unit.

The Chester County academic teams were recognized at the Chester County Champions awards banquet hosted by Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union on May 14. At the banquet, Franklin Mint honored the championship teams, as well as the Chester County All-Star Team; the Coach of the Year, Ron McColl of Phoenixville Area High School; and the Competitor of the Year, Joshua Mensah of Coatesville Area High School.

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