Big brain: MCHS’s Academic Team


When you think of competition at Madison County High School, you probably think of sports teams or FFA.  It might surprise some people to know that some of our most active competitions are actually our Academic Team matches.

The MCHS Academic Team is sponsored by everyone’s favorite dynamic duo: Mr. Cowne and Mr. Wilkes.  When these two were asked to take over the team in 2008, they thought that it would just be a one-year gig before the two sought replacements.  During that year, the two fell in love (with the team, not each other… or maybe both) and could not give up their team.  Years later, the extracurricular is one of the highlights of their jobs here at MCHS.

Academic Team competitions are a little different from football or livestock.  Instead of tackling other players physically, the team members tackle their opponents with their sharp intellect.  Instead of showing off their cattle, they show of their brains.  “The Academic Team is a team that competes in head to head matches with other schools in our area,” says Academic Team sponsor, Mr. Wilkes. “Each match consists of four rounds.  In three of the four rounds, four of our students are placed at buzzers against four of the other team’s students who also have a set of buzzers.  A question is read aloud, and the team to buzz in first and register a correct answer gets the points for that question.  The rounds have 20 questions each.”

Wilkes continues by explaining the worksheet round, where the entire team gets to participate. “There is also a worksheet round that the entire team gets to work through and discuss in order to answer all questions asked,” says Wilkes.  “The rounds are typically broken up by different categories which often align with subjects studied in school.   If we do well enough in the matches, we get invited to the region tournament, and success there will lead to a chance to compete at the state level.”

These two enthusiastic leaders welcome anyone who is interested to join.  Many of the team’s members will graduate this year, so the duo encourages new participants.  It order to join the fun, you need to be more than just interested in academics.  Being on the team requires commitment, and every member must be available for practices and matches.  The team normally starts in September, so those interested should contact Cowne or Wilkes at the beginning of the school year.