Jena Doak, [email protected]
SWEETWATER COUNTY, WYOMING (October 1, 2021) — Being a smart kid can pay off. Literally. Every year, community college scholarships are bestowed on Wyoming’s brainiest high school competitors of the annual Wyoming Academic Challenge.
This year, the Wyoming Academic Challenge, a succession of educational tournaments, will be held tomorrow, October 2, 2021 at Western Wyoming Community College. Since 1996, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been awarded to winners of these events.
“It gives the academic kids something to call their own,” said State Director of the challenge, Eric Kestner. “It’s a good time.” Kestner would know. He actually participated throughout his high school years in Basin, Wyoming. He has been teaching English and psychology at Pine Bluffs High School for eight years.
The four-member teams participate in four rigorous rounds of competition. Questions range from current events to math, science, history, and fine arts. The same teams progress to other matches at other Wyoming community colleges during the course of the season, typically every month or so. Ultimately, team coaches select pupils for the all-start team to compete against Montana.
“Any student can participate in the challenges, as long as they show up for the practices,” Kestner said. “We coaches watch the matches throughout the season, and then cherry pick the brightest kids to compete against Montana, which typically takes place during the summer.”
Four teams are participating in tomorrow’s Academic Challenge: two teams from Pine Bluffs, one from Douglas, and one from Greybull. Western Wyoming Community College is sponsoring this weekend’s challenge.
The challenges work like a team-based jeopardy, with a touch strip across the table. The first one to touch it has 15 seconds to respond to the question. There are four 45-minute rounds of questions, and teams rotate between rounds. There is even one round of written questions.
“We are really honored to have the students come here and participate,” said Western’s coordinator for the event, Cathy Ebert. “We are really excited. We walk them around to see the campus, and hope that they will come back and go to school here.”
Sign-in for the event starts at noon tomorrow, and the rounds start at 1:00. The public is welcome to attend and watch the event.
Kestner is happy that the event will be live this year, since last year’s was held virtually.
“It will be good to see everyone again,” Kestner said. “And I’d like to give a shoutout to the college for hosting it.”