By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer
BETHEL - Trivia are often described as useless knowledge, but not at Bethel-Tate High School, where a command of known and little-known facts has propelled its Academic Team to success.
Bethel-Tate's Academic Team has two consecutive undefeated seasons and was the Southern Buckeye Athletic/Academic Conference champion three of the last four years. Today, the team is in regional competition at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth. The competition is a cross between Jeopardy and It's Academic, a bygone weekly TV quiz show that matched teams of competing high school students.
Teams are given questions in selected categories, such as literature, math, geography, fine arts, physical science, government and history. There's also a "lightning round."
"It's very popular at Bethel," said Nanette Kunz, the team's adviser and high school guidance counselor. "Some schools have a problem because there's some kind of stigma being on the academic team."
Not so at Bethel-Tate, where about 30 students try out for the team each year.
The team, usually about 12-15 members, is larger this year. That's because nine of the 17 members are seniors, and Kunz wanted to start grooming freshmen.
Only four team members will compete at regionals: Seniors Sarah Howison and Joey Swarthout, junior Josh Trester and sophomore Lisa Howison, Sarah's sister.
Like sports teams, the Academic Team wears a uniform and travels to compete. Teams compete after school two times a week during the season, November through March.
Other school districts in the league are Batavia, Blanchester, Clermont Northeastern, Clinton-Massey, East Clinton, Felicity-Franklin, Georgetown, Greenfield, Hillsboro, New Richmond, Western Brown and Williamsburg.
"It's general knowledge that a lot of people would consider trivia," Kunz said. "A lot of them study from 'Trivial Pursuit' and any kinds of books of lists, like presidents and vice presidents, and titles and authors."
Kunz prefers to call herself an adviser rather than a coach. "I can't help them with the plays like a football coach," she said. "It's a skill they have to develop on their own."
Besides having quick minds, the students must have quick fingers on the buzzer. It's a skill that they practice.
"Sometimes, you can see where a question is going before they're finished, and you can actually buzz before they've finished the question," Sarah Howison said.
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