INSTITUTE, W.Va. — A total of twelve high school academic teams were going head-to-head at West Virginia State University Friday for the third time in an ongoing rivalry to see which top teams make it to the final rounds.

WVSU is one of seven regional competition hosts for the West Virginia Department of Education’s 2024 Academic Showdown.

Up to two teams from each school can enter the double elimination competitions, and Friday’s teams included students from Poca High School, George Washington High, Ripley High, Charleston Catholic, Saint Albans, Buffalo, and Sissonville High School.

Students were answering timed questions in a number of different categories, including math, science, history, sports, fine arts, pop culture, among other subjects.

WVDE Director of Communications, Christy Day explains how the now third annual academic showdown works as it leads up to the final competing teams.

Christy Day

“We’ve got regions around the state, they started at Marshall, they will end with a finale on April 23 at the State Culture Center, so the top two teams from each region will advance on to the finale,” said Day.

The showdown started in January at Marshall. Since then, teams from schools across the state have been making their way around to various state colleges and universities to compete and showcase their knowledge.

Day said the academic showdown started with 21 teams in its first year in 2022 and now it’s up to 90 teams as more schools join every year.

West Virginia’s Showdown is among the largest high school academic competitions in the country, using National Academic Quiz Tournament questions.

Day said it’s a way for students to put their academic skills to the test just like they get the opportunity to do physically in sports.

“We needed an opportunity to celebrate academics similarly as we do athletic competitions, and that’s what this showdown provides,” she said.

Day went on to say that students look for a healthy and complete way to share their knowledge, and this gives them the chance to do that.

“We have seen it go down to very stiff one-point matches, and so the teams seem to come prepared and ready to participate,” added Day.

She said how it works is by a sponsor at each school sponsoring a team and preparing them throughout the fall semester to compete in the showdown in the spring.

On Jan. 13 at Marshall one of the two teams from Huntington High School took home first place and a team from Winfield High received second place.

Following that on Feb. 9 at West Virginia University, two teams from Morgantown High School placed both first and second in the competition there, but the one scheduled at Shepherd University had to be postponed due to inclement weather.

Day said the showdown can pose quite the challenge for students but they seem to enjoy it.

“It really is taxing, I mean you have to have a pretty thorough depth of knowledge in these content areas to perform well, and these students they come prepared and ready to compete,” said Day.

Fairmont State University will be the next host of the competition on March 8. Concord University will follow on March 16, and Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Logan on March 23.

Day said the winning teams at the finale on April 23 at the Culture Center will win cash prizes and of course, obtain some bragging rights.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History partners with WVDE to host the Academic Showdown.