Breaking into Mental Sweat

by Ryan Coulter ’12

 Competition is defined as a comparison of skill in which a team challenges another to reveal the superior victor. It’s Academic provides the ideal venue for true competition, even if many don’t recognize that its challenges against other schools can be just as intense and thrilling as any athletic sporting contest. It’s Academic, over the years, has attracted some of the school’s brightest pupils due to its energetic environment and ability to challenge the intellect of such outstanding students.

Sherwood’s It’s Academic program, coached by social studies teachers Scott Allen and Aileen Woolley, provides a welcoming setting to all interested students. However, the club separates its members into two groups: Sherwood A and Sherwood B. The ability to fill two teams is rare for a public school, indicating the growing interest in It’s Academic. Sherwood’s program has won the first round of the It’s Academic competition three years in a row, which is a great achievement for a public school.

Due to the fact that It’s Academic doesn’t only compete against other MCPS public schools, Sherwood’s program has to contend with private schools all over the D.C. area. To some extent, this would be akin to 2A Poolesville playing football against powerhouse Good Counsel. “Members of the A Team must show a broad range of background knowledge, especially in both social studies and English Literature,” said Woolley. Not only do members of the A Team need this lofty quantity of knowledge, but they also need to be able to recall information quickly, which is just as valuable a tool as the broad comprehension. One team can display incredible knowledge yet still lose due to the speed of their competitor.

The A team consists of senior Brad Matthews, senior Matthew Smith and junior Rebecca Stussman. [Matthews and Stussman are current members of The Warrior Staff.] Matthews and Stussman are the team captains.

Smith is a first-year A Team member but has been a part of the Sherwood It’s Academic program since his freshman year and feels that It’s Academic is a great program for students to showcase their knowledge in a welcoming environment where friendships can be made.

“I like the academic sports environment. I’m not a huge sports fan and I don’t play sports. This is kind of a substitute for that; I can still be on a team and I like the feel of competing. You get to meet lots of people from other schools and it’s really great,” said Smith.

The Sherwood It’s Academic program’s competition against Herndon and Charles H. Flowers High Schools aired on NBC on December 4. Sherwood took first place, which puts them in the top third of the D.C. area.