Q: What is It's Academic?
A: A Jeopardy!-style quiz show for high school teams.
Q: Who is the only American writer to have a place in Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey?
A: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
If you knew the answer to that question, then It's Academic may be right up your alley. It's Academic is a Knowledge Bowl-, Academic Decathlon-type program of high schools, both public and private, with variants across the country. The participants must be able to answer trivia questions on a wide variety of subjects ranging from taxonomy to transcendentalism, baseball to biology. The Washington, DC area is host to a vast number of schools with strong It's Academic teams. The primary purpose of the program is participation in the It's Academic TV show, aired in the DC area on NBC4 on Saturdays at 10:00AM and hosted by the immortal Mac McGarry. The show is sponsored by the fine people at Giant Food Company, who provide cash prizes to the participating schools. The show has been on the air for over 40 years now, and has become quite a popular tradition. Most schools do not make many appearances on the show; even the overall winners only play 5 games. Most of the It's Academic team's time is spent praticing after school or participating in tournament hosted by area schools. These tournaments are a good deal harder than the television show, as the questions are often written by overzealous child prodigies.
The competition in the Washington, DC area is fierce. There are some area powerhouses which tend to dominate, although their relative strengths may change from year to year. Notables include Thomas Jefferson from Alexandria, VA, Montgomery Blair from Silver Spring, MD, and St. Anselm's from Washington DC. Most of these schools are either magnet or private schools, although occasionally a truly righteous regular public school will rise up and give them a rightful trouncing.
It's Academic is an incredibly fun and worthwhile activity. It looks great on college applications and, if you can put up with all the savant prima donnas, is always a great time.