HHS Academic Team members prepare for National Academic Quiz Tournaments National High School Championship in Atlanta

Members of the Hannibal High School Academic Team joked with one another as they prepared to answer questions from the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) book as they prepare for the national competition May 24-26 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The four students hadn't competed together before this year, but that didn't stop them from choosing to compete in the more challenging NAQT tournament after a strong showing in the Scholar Bowl category last year, said Coach Linda Stinson. She said the team members really came together following their first place finish at the Scotland County Invitational on March 9 — they have moved their practices from Stinson's classroom to Java Jive, and they have replaced the buzzers used in competition with responses as soon as they have the anwer. Senior and Team Captain Jessica Stinson said the team members each have distinct personalities, and they have come together through light-hearted experiences like designating the duck-like loon as their unofficial team mascot.

Jessica laughed as she led the group in cupping their hands together and making loon calls.

“We say it's our good luck charm,” Brecklyn said.

“They've gotten to know each other really well over this year — especially this semester,” Stinson said.

She said that once everyone worked together, they gained success with bonus questions that are answered as a team.

Each of the team members have found topics they enjoy, and juniors Brecklyn and Anna have been particularly focusing on the newly-expanded topic areas of psychology and linguistics. During their next year as seniors leading the team, they will be prepared as those questions become more common. And each member has discovered information and topics they enjoy during the season.

Stinson said Jessica, Brecklyn, Anna and Xavier have studied topics including war, history, science, literature and geography.

“I found it really interesting how many questions there are about Chinese dynasties and Asian culture,” Jessica said. Brecklyn said she has really been focusing on literature.

“That's what I'm drawn to,” she said. “It's cool to see the different time periods, as to how the different authors write.” Anna has been immersing herself in the world of art.

“I'm really digging into art,” she said. “I just love looking at different art styles and different artist's techniques.”

Each team member is looking forward to different aspects of the national competition as the big weekend draws near. Jessica is eager to see pandas at Zoo Atlanta, Brecklyn is looking forward to witnessing as many landmarks as possible, and Anna is excited to meet all the people who will gather for the tournament — numerous teams will represent schools across the nation and the world.

“I'm excited we made it, but I'm kind of nervous, because I think there are 300 teams,” Jessica said.

Brecklyn was excited as well, and she said she looked forward to knowledge she will glean for the future. “I'm really excited, and I think it'll be a good experience to help me learn as to what I need to study more of for next year,” she said.

Anna shared how far she and her colleagues had come to get to this point.

“I think it feels good, I'm proud of us,” she said. “And I think it will be a great experience, even if we don't place.”

“We'll make it fun,” Stinson said.

“That's all that matters,” Anna replied.

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com