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TELL CITY - Tell City High School academic teams earned four first-place awards at regional contests at Evansville's North High School April 20, and three earned the right to advance to the state-level Academic Super Bowl.
TCHS's English, interdisciplinary and science teams will vie for state honors May 8 at Purdue University.
Social-studies coach Amy Kehl said Wednesday this year's topic, "An American Generation: 1964 to 1980," "has been quite a challenge. They go into quite a bit of detail when they're doing American subjects."
The focus of the competitions is alternated each year between international and domestic topics.
Tell City's math team "got quite a bit of help from Jacob Bower, who's in his third year at MIT," Kehl said. "He's just a math whiz; the kid is quite brilliant."
The difficulty in this year's topic was reflected in "scores that overall were a little lower than we're used to," Kehl said, explaining that winning teams normally score 20 out of a possible 25 points. While few teams achieved scores that high, Tell City's English team earned 23, which Kehl called "extraordinary; it was the highest score in the state."
Coach Dan Hall was "quite pleased," she added.
"Our students just tend to be very focused," Kehl said in explaining Tell City's successes. They work very hard and spend a lot of time outside school hours preparing for the competitions, often logging three- or four-hour sessions during evenings or weekends. "That just shows their dedication," Kehl said. "If they won't take the time, it doesn't matter how much we coaches push."
The Marksmen's social-studies team also placed first at the regional event, but was outscored by another team at another regional site.
Tell City competed in the event's Class 3, based on school size, and "winning in your class doesn't guarantee you'll go to state," Kehl explained. The top six scorers in each subject area advance, meaning a second-place team from one contest could elbow out a first-place team from another.
The Marksmen social-studies team earned second place and their fine-arts team took third.
Patsy Alvey serves as coordinator for all of Tell City's teams.
"We just got an e-mail yesterday," she said Wednesday. "saying we were named one of the top 10 schools in the state because of how well we did. We're one of the few schools that qualified three teams for state."
She attributed the success to hard work on the part of both students and teachers.
"The kids really care about it," she said. "They have a tradition to live up to, and they don't want to be the ones who blow it."
"The teachers put in a lot of time after school," she also said. "Yes, they're paid, but when you figure the hours they put in, it's very minimal."
Tell City's first team in the state competition will begin at 11:30 a.m. May 8 in Purdue's Loeb Playhouse, Alvey said.