Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay High's Academic Team Aiming for Regional Title

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay High's Academic Team Aiming for Regional Title

Article excerpt

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- On a recent afternoon in the Clay High School library, eight students sat at two tables, their hands tightly clutching buzzers.

Other students were leaving school for the day, but these eight were focused on teacher Karen Hamilton, who was firing questions at them about everything from biology to politics to history trivia.

Only a few queries got by them unanswered or answered incorrectly.

Which hormone is known as the GH hormone? The growth hormone.

What country captured the U.S.S. Pueblo in 1968? North Korea.

What was author Sherlock Holmes' address in London? 221-B Baker Street.

Someone passing through the library said, "I thought it was Jeopardy. I was looking for [host] Alex [Trebek]."

Close, but not quite.

This group of 11th-graders and a few others who could not attend this practice session make up the Clay High Varsity Academic Team, which has built a won-loss record to rival the Jacksonville Jaguars. Over the past three years, they have played 21 matches and lost only one -- last year, to arch-rival Orange Park High.

This year, they won top honors in their division, which includes some, but not all, of Clay County's high schools as well as schools in several other surrounding counties. They are preparing for a regional competition in Ocala in January and hope to follow in the footsteps of Clay High's 1995-96 academic team, which won the regional championship.

Team members are confident they will do well.

"The other ones are going down," said team member Jessie Moore. "We are bigger than the Jaguars."

Hamilton, who coaches the varsity team and a separate junior varsity team, and quizzes them regularly with sample questions, cautioned the students not to get cocky. But she said they have earned their record.

"It takes a good memory; being curious, enjoying knowledge for knowledge's sake," she said. "They are very well-rounded, into everything, lots of activities."

Team member Chris Hildalgo said that's a requirement.

"You should be a well-rounded person. There are a lot of different subjects," he said. …

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