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Lee County schools advance in A-Team Challenge

By Staff | Feb 3, 2009

Schools across Lee County are facing off this month in the 20th Annual A-Team Challenge, an academic tournament hosted by the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools.
Local students who participate in the tournament compete by answering questions on language, social studies, math, science and current events. Overall, 31 schools enter the tournament and the finals portion is broadcast on the school district’s LEARN Channel and NBC-2.
The program is produced in a partnership between the foundation, the Lee County School District and Waterman Broadcasting.
“It is very popular with the target students who participate in A-Team,” said Marshall Bower, executive director of Foundation for Lee County Public Schools. “They take it very seriously.”
Bower explained that the students who enroll in the tournament are higher achieving students who are competitive and enjoy making it to the next round.
Competitors have to listen to questions and buzz in before their opponents like a smaller scale of the popular “Jeopardy” game. There are three rounds in each face-off, culminating in a “Final Jeopardy” consisting of multiple parts on one topic.
Since its inception, the tournament has been the only program that the foundation opens to the six counties of Southwest Florida to promote competition. It also is one of the only televised academic competitions in Florida.
The tournament opened Jan. 7 with a competition between Riverdale High and Fort Myers High, and it will continue until April. The quarterfinals will eliminate more teams on March 19. Later, the semifinal and final competitions will run from April 1-2.
Cape Coral High defeated Bishop Verot High on Jan. 9 and will compete in another elimination round against Cypress Lake High on Feb. 19. If the Cape team wins this month, it will compete in the quarterfinals.
“We beat Bishop Verot, it was a big victory because they went in as the favorite,” said Sue Propert, A-Team faculty advisor at Cape Coral High.
Island Coast High, Ida S. Baker High, North Fort Myers High and Mariner High also competed against other schools from Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hendry, Glades and Lee counties.
Last year the tournament was taped at South Fort Myers High, but this year it is at the Lee Education Center on 2855 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers.
Bower said students produce the show.
“We’ve also incorporated students in that end of that process. Students help produce the show,” said Bower. “It’s students interested in broadcasting.”