Local special education high school students compete in quiz bowl

Kandace Sebastian

Every time Bowling Green High School junior Danny Potter gets ready to compete in a quiz bowl tournament, he said it’s like an adrenaline rush.

“It’s sorta like a birthday party,” he said.

Potter’s team from Bowling Green High was among the six who competed in the Congressional Cup, a quiz bowl competition sponsored by Western’s Council for Exceptional Children.

The group has sponsored quiz bowl tournaments to help enrich children in Kentucky high school special education programs for the past 14 years.

Teams from Bowling Green, Warren Central, Apollo, Daviess County, Webster County and Barren County High Schools competed Friday.

This is the second year CEC has sponsored the tournament, which has students answering questions in math, science, history and logical computations.

But unlike most competitions where winning is the main focus, the coaches of the participating teams said the high school students want to show what they can do and have fun doing it.

Versailles senior Amanda Hetzel and Union senior Rachel Hanger were co-coordinators of the competition.

Hanger, who is also the presiding governor of the region’s CEC, said the tournament helps break stigmas that people may have about children in special education.

“There’s a stereotype that special education kids are just retarded,” Hetzel said. “That’s a huge misconception; an event like this lets people know that these kids are really smart.”

Western’s CEC members volunteered during the matches reading questions, calculating scores and refereeing the matches.

Owensboro freshman Sarah McMaine said working at the tournament has helped her acquire hands-on experience to help her prepare for her career as a special education teacher.

Dewayne Bishop, a special education teacher and coach for Apollo High School, said he has found joy in helping his students. Bishop has worked with his students twice a week since January to get ready for the tournament.

He also enjoys seeing how his students’ self-esteem boosted in the Congressional Cup.

“It’s fun really seeing them have a good time,” Bishop said.

The efforts of the Apollo team were evident in the match against Bowling Green High. Despite the efforts of Potter and his team in a difficult second round match, Apollo came out ahead.

“Good job,” Potter shouted to the Apollo team. “Ya’ll skunked us.”

Apollo went on to finish third overall. The team from Warren Central won the competition.

CEC has been at Western since 1980. They also sponsor a job fair for special education high school graduates in the fall.

“They have to work that much harder to succeed. That’s their motivation,” Hanger said. “We are there to give them a chance.”