Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students Advance to National Academic Bowl

WDE 3-15-17

Wyoming’s Academic Bowl Team of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (D/HH) high school students will advance to Gallaudet University 2017 National Academic Bowl competition in Washington, D.C., in April for the third consecutive year after a triumphant second place finish in the West Regionals.

“We finished second in the Championship Round against the first place team of the other pool,” said coach Jo Otterholt. “It was our only loss for the entire 2 days of the competition. We were the only team with 9-0 when we entered the championship match. This year’s team is super excited as they feel like they have a strong Academic Team.”

“I am so proud of these students,” said WDE Chief Policy Officer Lisa Weigel. “They work with their WDE coaches [and teachers in their local schools] all school year to prepare for this annual competition. Many say this two-day event is more difficult than taking the ACT test.”

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to support these students. It’s a compliment to the education they receive in Wyoming schools that they’re successful at this level of academic competition,” said Anne-Marie Williams, WDE Director of Individual Learning.

Gallaudet University is the only University for D/HH students in the world, and hosts 80 teams in four regional sites in United States. The Academic Bowl is unique, in that it fosters camaraderie among D/HH students.

The coaches traveled with four Wyoming team members to California School for the Deaf in Riverside, California, where Wyoming faced off against nearly 40 of their D/HH counterparts at the West Regionals. The questions stem from all areas of academics and more, including arts, sports, Deaf history, politics, and current news and events.

“It’s a learning and testing atmosphere for two days, all at the same time, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and well into the evening during the play-offs in tournaments,” said Otterholt. “Although they’re from 13 Western states, these kids form lasting friendships and stay in touch throughout the year. They support and cheer each other on.” Additional friendships are formed when they attend the National competitions.

Teammates Gabi Reimann (Natrona #1), Josh Graves (Sweetwater #2), Rachel Lebsack (Platte #1), and Josh Parsons (Campbell #1) will travel to the National Competition with coaches Jo Otterholt and Meghan Watt. Gallaudet University provides all-expense paid flights, meals and lodging for 25 competing teams for four days, April 1-4, 2017. The competition can be followed at the GU Youth Programs/Academic Bowl 2017 website.