Middle School team second in state at Twelve competition

David Broyles Staff Reporter

December 20, 2013

Mount Airy Middle School’s Twelve Competition Coaches will tell you there’s larger schools out there who know about Mount Airy after the school’s team finished second in state competition on its first outing in the competition.

According to Principal Susan Bunch Twelve is a knowledge-based academic competition which challenges teams to answer questions in a variety of subject areas. Bunch said 12 students with 12 topics have 12 questions each with points awarded for correct answers. The team was made possible as a part of the school’s Students With Ambitious Goals (SWAG) program.

“These newly created academic teams have been fantastic for our school,” said Bunch. “It challenges our students and motivates them to reach their full potential. They have done extremely well at the start of our season. I am extremely proud of our students and coaches for all of their hard work and effort.”

She said the school has implemented SWAG daily and students rotate through four of 18 newly created academic clubs. Ten of these clubs compete at the state level in the North Carolina Association for Scholastic Activities.

“This is our first year competing in Twelve,” said Coach Sara George, who explained ten of the 12 categories in the middle school competition are dedicated to colleges and universities with “wild card” categories on subjects including government and history. The regionals were held at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and the state tourney was at Rogers-Herr Middle School in Durham.

Coach Tina VanHoy pointed out both of the competitions were held on Saturday and she found it inspiring to see middle school students excited over a Saturday activity. She and George said each team is composed of 12 main competitors with two alternates.

Five students on stage get a chance to look at a question, which is later removed from the electronic board. The team members have 12 minutes to put their answers down and then three minutes to decide on and write the final answers. This is done for each of the 12 questions. On the last rounds, scores are not posted so teams do not know where they are compared to the other teams.

“We were tied at second and third going into the last two round rounds and from then on we had no idea how we were doing,” said George. “When it was announced we were so excited.”

She said she and VanHoy had no idea of how to prepare the teams for the competition so they relied heavily on suggestions from the web site and one conference call with a representative of NCASA. Both coaches said the mix of athletes and more academically oriented students really clicked with athletes using techniques to keep the team focused and excited.

“We had no idea what to expect at the regionals. The fact they did so well to advance to state was just awesome. Our students really stepped up to the plate,” said VanHoy. “They made flash cards and Googled any facts on the colleges they could. We used a Google doc to work together and collaboratively prepare.”

Bunch said the students did not appear shaken as they entered each tourney with larger schools quickly taking notice as the team entered with the team wearing matching jerseys.

“The got there, found a table and started practicing with their flash cards,” said Bunch. “They got there and blew us away. I think they even less nervous at state.” She and both coaches said it was also heartening to see students connect information from their classes to the event’s subjects. The team members ranged from grades 6-8.

The members of the school’s Twelve team are Robert Brown, Ryan Edwards, Ryan Graham, Jack Stancil, Elizabeth Marion, Meredith Marion, Hanne Cooke, Olivia Wilson, Simon Cawley, Shakeema Bell, Piper Draughon, Greyson Tucker, Grayson Corbi, Tanner Jackson, Anselmo Salazar and Jackson Heath.

Reach David Broyles at or 336-719-1952.