DHH team competes at nationals for first time in seven years


Courtesy of Cindy Hartpence

The first Starr’s Mill Deaf and Hard of Hearing academic team was established in 2006 because of a “super bright group of students who were interested,” learning specialist, Cindy Hartpence, said. This year, the Mill’s Academic Bowl team for the Deaf won 4th place overall at nationals.

The Starr’s Mill deaf and hard of hearing team finished in 4th place on April 25 at nationals in Washington D.C. After such a success, the Fayette County Board of Education asked the team to attend the May 16 meeting. The four participating students received an award for their exemplary talents at nationals.

In early March, the DHH team first found out they were going to nationals, after finishing with a score of 7-1 in the southeast region of the deaf and hard of hearing academic bowl. This was the first year the Mill competed on the national level, despite participating in the academic bowl for the past  seven years.

‘This is another wonderful example of that excellence being displayed by our students’.

— Principal Allen Leonard

The team didn’t automatically qualify for nationals. Instead they relied on the wildcard, a test that the top 10 teams must  take in order to decide the final qualifiers for the national tournament. “I was super excited for the kids,” coach and learning specialist, Cindy Hartpence, said. “Every year we come so close, and this is the year that we finally got to go for the first time.”

The first Starr’s Mill DHH academic team was established in 2006  due to a “super bright group of students who were interested,” Hartpence said.

The reasoning behind the DHH academic team creation was to expose “our brightest hearing-impaired students to others around the country,” Hartpence said.  

In order to qualify, each team member must have at least some level of hearing loss.

The national bowl is set up like a traditional academic bowl, only this particular bowl includes sign language. In each round, the question is projected onto the board and the team members read quickly in order to buzz in faster than the other team to answer the question. This is one area the team focused on in preparing for nationals. “We needed to improve our spelling skills and buzzer speed and that’s what we did,” senior David Martin said.

In addition to improving the team’s speed, at team practice one day, Hartpence split the team members into two groups and asked them basic questions in three rounds of competition, with each round increasing in difficulty.

With these additional practices the team was able to improve their performance and finish in fourth place.

“I’m extremely proud  of the progress they’ve made, and their achievements this year,” principal Allen Leonard said. “This is another wonderful example of that excellence being displayed by our students.”