A study in everything

Dillon Campbell, 17, captain of Skyline High School Academic Team, answers a question during a recent team practice. The team recently won the Conference 28 tournament and ranks No. 2 in the region. The students have advanced to the Region 3A East Tournament that will be held Wednesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — This Skyline High School after-school club meets four days a week and challenges students to learn all they can about everything. The team recently came in first place in the Virginia High School League Conference 28 Tournament.

For 10 points and a chance that the group will win its regional tournament in Newport News next week, name this club that accepts students beginning in eighth grade.

Answer: The Academic Team.

On a recent afternoon, students on the Academic Team sat at desks with buzzers and chimed in with answers posed by one of their instructors, assistant coach Tim Cochran.

The questions weren’t for grades or extra credit, though the right answers did count significantly. Harvested from questions at previous regional championships, the information will help give students their best chance at winning next Wednesday’s competition at Poquoson High School.

Skyline Academic team assistant coach Tim Cochran sets his timer after asking the team a question during an after school practice. Rich Cooley/Daily

Earlier this month, they earned their first-ever win at the Conference 28 Tournament against John Champe, Warren County High School, Central High School in Woodstock, Loudoun Valley in Purcellville, Rock Ridge in Ashburn and William Monroe in Standardsville.

It was the first time any high school in Warren County has won the conference, said Heidi Trude, academic team coach and French teacher.

“Last year we were runner up,” she said. “This year we’re legit.”

As the No. 2 seed to win the Region 3A East Tournament, Skyline will compete against Poquoson, Culpeper, Spotsylvania, John Champe and the team’s biggest rival, New Kent.

If Skyline comes in first or second place, its members will head to the state championship on Feb. 28 at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg.

Dillon Campbell lights up the controller during a recent practice. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I’ve played in high school, so I know how to prep them,” said Trude, who attended Liberty High School in Bealeton and was team captain in her junior and senior years.

“The questions basically cover all the SOL material,” Trude said. But it’s not necessary to know everything about every subject. Knowing the important stuff — like the world’s most famous artists — can give students an edge against the competition.

And then, team members also bring their strengths and interests to the group.

A fourth-year member, 17-year-old Team Captain Dillon Campbell can often buzz in with most of the answers himself, but he’ll defer to other students who have more knowledge than he does on certain subjects.

Rachel Karnes, 17, said she feels most confident in literature, which makes up a large number of the questions. She said her advanced placement literature class has supplied a good part of her knowledge.

“If you want to play, you have to play,” she said.

Dillon is good at sports and the American presidents, but 18-year-old Scott Foor prefers questions on American and European history or environmental science.

Ranked among the school’s top five AP history students, he said, “It’s given me an edge.”

“Each of us have our own area of expertise,” Foor said. “For me particularly, I’m really good at comic book stuff that other people don’t know.”

But being on the Academic Team, he’s gained knowledge in subjects he didn’t pursue, like literature and chemistry.

“I really enjoy just seeing how much other people know,” he said.

“Who knows where it can help you out?” he said. “You know, small facts impress people.”

Dillon admitted it’s hard for new members, especially younger ones who haven’t learned a lot of the information they’ll encounter on the team.

But he tells them to trust themselves and not let wrong answers get to them. Some questions are from higher-level classes like calculus or physics, but later when they take those classes, being on the Academic Team will give them an edge.

“It’s helped me in school,” Dillon said. “It’s helped me become a better player, too. I’ve improved every season.”

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com