A constitutional amendment was the difference maker in one of the opening rounds of the 32nd annual Post-Star Academic Bowl last week.
The constitutional question was one of hundreds asked of high school students from the Capital Region to test their knowledge for a chance to win a trip to the national-level competition.
Bowl Commissioner Patty Nicolls said teams from 19 schools in six different counties participated this year and the competition was fierce.
Saratoga Springs High School took last year off from The Post-Star’s competition, but the dynasty was re-established this year with another win, their seventh in the last eight years.
None of their wins were comfortable though, especially their first round match-up with Westport.
Westport Central School, which has a senior class of 15 students, traveled more than an hour to go toe-to-toe with Saratoga, which graduated nearly 500 seniors last year, fighting all the way into the sudden death round.
“It was the tightest game I’ve ever seen,” Nicolls said. “It was like watching David vs. Goliath.”
Westport’s rookie coach Jason Fiegl said his students’ success is nothing new for them, because they participate and do well in so many activities.
“They play basketball, they’re in the drama club, they’re a part of everything,” Fiegl said. “I give the credit to the school for creating dynamic kids.”
In the end, a Saratoga student correctly identified the 22nd Amendment as the one that established a two-term limit on U.S. presidents.
Saratoga Springs coaches Mike Kats and Jean Marie Gebhard said their students prepare year-round for these competitions, and several have traveled as far as Westchester, Pennsylvania for a weekend tournament in the past.
Kats said the outside tournaments draw some of the most talented students in the country and go a long way in preparing them for finals like the one last Wednesday.
Gebhard said the competition was very tight this year and commended Nicolls for the comprehensive questions that forced her team to dig deep.
South Glens Falls High School finished in the runner-up spot, and coach Mike Davies said he and his teams have enjoyed the tight rivalry with Saratoga Springs over the past few years.
Davies said his team’s preparation involves weekly meetings, practice tests, watching Jeopardy! and staying up to date on what’s happening in the world.
“There’s always four or five current events questions,” Davies said, “So I always hammer it to the kids that there’s no replacement for reading the paper every day.”
The top two teams receive money to help pay for a trip to one of the national competitions. Davies said his team will most likely attend the Washington, D.C. competition, because the logistics were easiest.
Davies said he was happy with the popularity of the academic bowl at South Glens Falls and happy that his students could succeed in an alternative outlet to traditional school competitions like sports.
“It’s so nice for some of the kids that get to represent the school and the Bulldogs in an academic setting,” Davies said.