Top students have answers

If you’ve ever wondered if you’re smarter than a fifth grader, sitting in on the annual Dougherty County School System Middle Schools Academic Bowl can be a humbling experience.

For four hours Thursday, teams of students from Dougherty’s seven middle schools — Merry Acres, Robert Cross, Radium Springs, Dougherty International, Southside, Albany and Albany Early College — battled each other in teams of five faced with two challenges. They not only had to know the answers, they had to be quickest on the buzzer to get the chance to answer. In addition, each question is timed so a team member has to buzz in within 10 seconds of the reader completing the question.

When the last question was answered and the 12 rounds in the double-elimination tournament were completed, the Merry Acres team had reclaimed the Cristine Blaylock Trophy that had resided with Robert Cross for the previous two years. They, along with Radium Springs and Dougherty International, will represent the Dougherty school district next month in regional competition at Moultrie.

One of the privileges we enjoy each year is to conduct this competition for the school system. It gives a rare opportunity to see the system’s top middle school students in a single room — supported by their coaches, families and school officials — exhibiting the knowledge that they have already accumulated in their young lives.

Equally impressive is the demeanor and poise the students demonstrate. It’s clear that they each want to win, but the sportsmanship exhibited by the students throughout the competition is a tribute to their coaches, schools and families.

Not everyone who participated could go on to the next level of competition. There is no reason, however, for any of these students to not hold their heads high for the way they acquitted themselves in the contest. The coaches who worked with these students to prepare them for the competition also deserve the community’s appreciation for their dedicated work that is making a difference in the lives of their team members.

Tournaments such as this will never fill seats like a football or basketball game does, and that’s unfortunate. We’ve yet to run into anyone who has attended one of these academic bowls who hasn’t left with a good feeling about these youngsters who will one day lead our community and others.

Congratulations to the teams that will represent Dougherty County in the regionals next month, and a special congratulations to Merry Acres for winning this year’s county contest. We wish you all the best of luck.

We know you will be fine ambassadors for our community.