The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 30, 2014

Academic team preparing for annual Scholastic Bowl at Pymatuning

For the Star Beacon

ANDOVER — What is the first of three names given to Britain’s Prince of Cambridge? Members of Pymatuning Valley’s Academic Team would recognize George as the answer due to their intense preparation and practice. Mary Pontoni has been adviser of the Academic Team at PVHS for about 17 years, and is very excited about this year’s team. Pontoni has been a staff member for more than 30 years, teaching both Spanish and history classes. The Academic Team has been part of school tradition for more than 35 years, along with winning the past two out of three Academic Challenges. This year’s Academic Team consists of Rory Gallatin, Steven Urchek Jr. and Emma Taylor, with alternate James O’ Malley.

PV participated in the Academic Challenge competition on Nov. 3, which later appeared on NewsChannel 5 on Jan. 18. Pymatuning Valley battled with opponents Keystone and Warrensville Heights to receive second place. Although the team came in a close second-place to Keystone High School, they are looking to improve, practicing hard, and are currently preparing for the County Scholastic Bowl. The team practices at least once a week, by using assorted past Academic Challenge and trivial pursuit questions, along with buzzers to improve reaction speed. The questions cover a wide variety of knowledge in every subject, and require students to bring back old knowledge along with acquiring new knowledge in a timely manner. Some students may possess an advantage depending on the difficulty of classes they pursue.

“I like the chance to challenge other minds, reaction time and knowledge,” said senior captain Rory Gallatin. “I believe this will benefit my future by enhancing the bounds of my knowledge.”

Meanwhile, Steven Urchek Jr. said he enjoys learning facts about the world, because it is adding depth to his academic horizon. The Ashtabula County Scholastic Bowl will be held in the PVHS Veterans Memorial Performing Arts Center at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10. There is no cost for admission, and students in the county are encouraged to come out and support their local schools. The County Scholastic Bowl has been around for more than 14 years and involves all schools in the county competing in an academic rivalry. PV has not won the Bowl since 1991, which motivates them to work harder to win. Pymatuning Valley has high hopes of winning the scholastic bowl, and defeating their rivals, Jefferson Area High School.

This extracurricular activity proves to be both challenging and difficult, yet rewarding in the end. Students obtain knowledge that they otherwise wouldn’t have likely received, preparing them for future tests including the ACT or SAT, college and various future engagements. Despite acquiring knowledge, the team forms strong bonds with each other, along with learning that it takes hard work and dedication to form a winning team.

Pontoni said she enjoys the time she serves as adviser, along with the outcomes of persistence and dedication. She adds that her favorite part is being with students who have fun, and are bright with a wide range of knowledge.

Pymatuning Valley wishes their team good luck in all future endeavors, and hopes to see them achieve all of their future goals!