If there is such a thing, Brett Heinisch, senior at Wawasee High School, would qualify as an Academic Super Bowl “veteran.” Counting three years of middle school and now in his fourth year of high school, he’s participated on an Academic Super Bowl social studies team all seven years.
After seven years of preparing for and participating in intense competitions where students have a very limited amount of time to answer questions, Heinisch likely has a few historical facts and dates firmly entrenched in the mind.
Heinisch was among nine WHS students covering three Academic Super Bowl teams — social studies, fine arts and interdisciplinary — who qualified for the state competition Saturday, May 4, at Purdue University.
To qualify, a team had to place in the top five in its class statewide in the regional competition, held April 16 at Northridge High School.
Wawasee’s social studies team made up of Heinisch, Brandon Fox and Michael Hernandez and coached by Mary Lou Dixon finished fourth in statewide scoring. The fine arts team coached by Holly Sautter and including students Stephanie Camargo, Kristi Streby and Katie Zartman placed fifth statewide. And the interdisciplinary team consisting of Emma Donahoe, Fox, Ashley Helfers, Maddison Hite and Zartman also placed fifth statewide.
The English team of Helfers, Zoe Berg and Owen Donahoe narrowly missed qualifying for the state competition by only one question and placed sixth.
Heinisch said he enjoys learning about history and social studies in general. “I like competing to see who knows more,” he added.
Preparing for a social studies team competition includes studying a book of possible questions that can be posed, as well as summaries of the book and then answering practice questions. During the half of the year when the conference and regional competitions are held, team members spend about six hours each week preparing.
Helfers, a junior, is in her third year overall of Academic Super Bowl and her first with the interdisciplinary team. Being on that team requires combining knowledge needed for the other teams.
She enjoys learning and was looking for a place to become involved when she began her freshman year. “Academic Super Bowl seemed to suit me well,” she noted. And, as Heinisch does, Helfers enjoys competing against other schools.
Kristi Harris, a math teacher at WHS, is the overall coordinator for Wawasee’s Academic Super Bowl teams. Other team coaches include Sarah Holsopple, Stephanie Szynal and Cyndi Thornburg.