Exeter academic team wins state in Scholar Bowl
Pisanti: ‘I am very proud of this team’
The Exeter High School academic team fought hard to bring home a state championship for the first time in the school’s history.
Michael Pisanti, Exeter academic team coach, said he was the assistant coach his first year, and this is his second year as head coach.
The Exeter academic team is open for freshman to seniors, and this year’s team had 15 students.
“It is a very important milestone for our senior year,” said Jarrett Brattin, Exeter senior. “I’ve been on the academic team since middle school.”
The high school academic team practices after school two times a week, and this is the first time for the team to compete in the state championship.
“Basically, the way it worked was for each team there are four people up at a time with buzzers,” Brattin said. “After the question is read, you just buzz in if you know the answer. It is just like Jeopardy.”
Brattin said there were eight schools that competed in this year’s state championship.
“There are the four main categories — science, social studies, english and math — then there are subcategories,” Brattin said. “The big difference between the state championship and regular competitions is how much more difficult it is.”
Brattin said on the team, some people specialize in one specific category, and others are better at general knowledge.
“We won by 10 points in the last game,” Brattin said.
The sophomores and juniors in the academic team all agreed that for the coming years, they now have a goal to keep up with this year’s win.
Aubrie Graham, a sophomore on the team, said there is a little bit more pressure now, but now they know it is possible to get there again.
Pisanti said winning the last round by 10 points was impressive because the team was down by 20 points going into the last question.
“If they get the toss up right, they get 10 points,” he said. “Then, they get the chance to add three bonuses that are 10 points each.”
Pisanti said they got enough of the bonuses to win.
“I’ve been looking at how we will adjust to not having our seniors on the team next year,” he said. “And, I’m looking at how to use the underclassmen that have been in it this year and last year to build the core of a new team.”
Pisanti said this year, he decided to meet twice a week instead of the once a week they were practicing in prior years.
“We wanted to do better,” he said. “One of our goals is to beat Thomas Jefferson. We haven’t quite managed that yet, but we did beat Columbia Independence, and they are a pretty powerful school.”
Pisanti said he has been working with the students to get them to write questions this year.
“I didn’t follow up with that very well,” he said. “But, going into next year, that is something to focus on.”
Pisanti said by doing that it helps the students get used to the question format.
“I am very proud of this team,” he said. “For the students coming back next year, I would suggest that if you like one of the four core subjects, study it throughout the summer. You don’t have to read and study constantly over the summer, but you need to expose yourself to the subjects.”
The Exeter academic team is a tight group of students that work hard together, but also have some fun.
Since the beginning of the year the students have asked Mr. Pisanti what his birthday is, he answers every time, Feb. 30.
“They ask all the time, like every practice,” Pisanti said. “So, I give them a date that doesn’t exist.”
The underclassmen said they are coming up with a plan of action for next year with figuring out who is best at each subject.
“There are a lot of people around here that think that what they do in school doesn’t matter,” Pisanti said. “For them, to watch these students study the material they think is inconsequential, and then to be successful, is a great example for some of the younger students.”
Pisianti said he wants students to realize that what they do in school matters.
“It’s not just the content,” he said. “But, the strategies a student uses to learn and remember the content is what we want to show them.”
Pisanti said he is proud of this team because they never gave up.
“We have had struggles at points,” he said. “But, they kept trying and got better.”
Ernest Raney, Exeter superintendent, said the students have worked hard.
“They have been practicing every week,” he said. “They did really well locally, then, went to the state level and competed.”
Raney said they have never won state before and the students had a lot of questions before they went.
“They went with all the preparation and courage to do the job,” he said. “We are so very proud of them.”