Local group goes to the head of the class

Seven students from Naperville North proved they’ve got game at the National Academic Championship last month in Chicago.

The Huskies junior varsity Scholastic Bowl team of Emily Xue, Chris Fu, Michael Lin, Shruti Baxi, Jakob Meyers, Ryan Ku and Michael Green earned top honors in the annual quiz bowl tournament that brings some of the nation’s top academic performers together in a Jeopardy-like competition.

“When I was in junior high, I used to watch ‘Jeopardy’ every day after school and answer all the questions,” said 15-year-old team member Meyers. “(I realized through Scholastic Bowl) I can do what I’ve been (watching) for years, (but) with my friends and actual buzzers. I can compete for my school and win awards for doing this. Wow.”

The Naperville team was invited to attend the championship after winning a Scholastic Bowl competition in the fall. They also took first place in the DuPage Valley Conference.

“What has impressed me most about the team is their never ending commitment,” said North’s junior varsity coach Katharine Lynch. “When I told the students the national competition was the weekend after finals — and we would need to practice after finals exam to prepare — the students were so excited and ready to practice.”

Naperville North teacher Yvonne John, who coaches the varsity team, said the competition is a testament to “their dedication to and love of Scholastic Bowl.”

“What has impressed me most about this team is how they work together as a team, supporting one another, and challenging one another to continue to grow in their knowledge,” said John. “This has been a year-long commitment by this team, with practices starting in early September and competition going beyond the school year.”

Lynch shared the sentiment.

“I am honored to work with these amazing high school students,” said Lynch. “Their joy in learning is contagious and their level of knowledge is impressive. The national title belongs to the team. They earned it.”

Along with the team title, student Jakob Meyers was heralded as “the greatest junior varsity player” in the competition’s history by the National Academic Championship organizers.

“I don’t think the accolades I’ve received have really taken effect yet,” said Meyers, who will be a sophomore. “I still find myself surprised by them. It’s a rather novel feeling for me to be called the best ever at something. I’m just trying not to let it go to my head.”

Lynch said the teen is deserving of the recognition.

“Jakob is a very strong member of our team and I am proud of his success,” said the coach. “His ability to remember information amazes me. His excitement for learning and answering questions makes our team stronger. He is quick on the buzzer, making all of the students that much better.”

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