Anacostia HS Students Compete on NBC's It is Academic 


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It's AcademicOn Saturday, students from Anacostia High School competed with their peers from Virginia and Maryland on It’s Academic, a long-running knowledge-based academic competition for local students. After being dormant for seven years, the Anacostia It's Academic team was revived in 2010 by a group of new and enthusiastic teachers -- Ryan Benjamin (math), Brianna Copley (Special Education) and Abraham Pachikara (math). 

Anacostia is just one of four DCPS teams to participate in the show (the others are Banneker, School Without Walls and Wilson) out of 81 total teams in the circuit. Each team has three players compete against two other teams. Twenty-seven first-round games decide who is in the playoffs, and, ultimately, who wins the "Superbowl." The Anacostia team has a dedicated group of three players and three alternates. The team has partnered with Georgetown Day School, with whom the team has scrimmages, and Mayor Vincent C. Gray attended the team's November 2011 taping. Eric Chavers, a senior at Anacostia, shares his experience about competing on the show.

The It’s Academic team at Anacostia High School was absent for some years. In my sophomore year, it was reformed. My math teacher Ryan Benjamin, the coach of the team, found it difficult to find players. It started with two other male students and me.  We were asked questions like “who is the 35th president” and “what is the capital of Illinois.” At the time, we didn’t know the answers.

During our first opportunity on It’s Academic, we had enough certainty in knowledge to go in with our heads up high. You could say we were nervous but not terrified. Even though we lost, our confidence was reinforced by the fact that we knew that we had the ability to compete on the same level with private and public schools of DC, Maryland, and Virginia knowing where we came from. Our most successful year on the show was my junior year, 2011-12. It was my first year as captain. We were ahead for the majority of the show, but during the last round we were unable to clinch the victory.

Teachers at our school say that we have become a part of a renewed legacy; since being “smart” is frowned upon by the peers in my community. Personally, I believe you won’t get anywhere in life with that type of mentality. On the It’s Academic team, we encourage showing your knowledge when we have new students come into our school. We suggest that they join the team. All you really need is confidence in your answers. Although we are modest, when people celebrate our success we are proud of everything that we have done for our school and community. And we will always support future students who follow in our footsteps.

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