A team of students from Chattahoochee High School recently went head to head with the country’s brightest young minds during the National Academic Quiz Tournament in Atlanta. When it was all said and done, the four local students ranked third out of 336 high schools across North America.

The hundreds of high school teams descended on Atlanta May 24-26, including the soon-to-be bronze winners from Chattahoochee: Andy Luo, Mihir Paramesh, Sanjeev Uppaluri and Harrison Zhu.

Once referred to as the “Super Bowl of the mind,” the National Academic Quiz Tournament is a fast-paced academic, interscholastic activity that tests students’ knowledge about science, math, history, literature, mythology, geography, social science, current events, sports and popular culture.

Luo said the idea of “competing for the top spot in the nation against over 300 other teams is exhilarating. It’s also amazing to go head to head with the best teams from around the country and realize how much we have in common.”

Luo said the team practiced twice a week after school throughout the entirety of the year leading up to the big event.

Upon learning that his team had finished third in the country, Luo said he felt “really numb from disbelief … the whole year we had wondered just how good we were compared to the other teams, and I’m not sure any of us could have predicted such an amazing result.”

Added Luo: “Finishing third in the country was one of the happiest memories I’ve had in my high school experience.”

Uppaluri too found it to be “quite an enjoyable experience. The chemistry, camaraderie and competition between our four team members propelled us to great heights … knowing that you are part of a team that placed third in the nation is a feeling like no other, a feeling of hard work and determination finally paying off.”

Uppaluri said he suspected he and his teammates were all “living in the moment … to capture third place. It was truly an amazing feeling, rising up the ranks.”

He added that he loves the “air of friendly competition that exists in quiz bowl” and that the event has helped him gain many new friends at Chattahoochee High School and beyond.

He also offered a nod to the team’s coach Mike Mathis, who has “put in countless planning competitions and overseeing practices.”

Uppaluri felt the dedication of he and his teammates was a driving force in their success: “Thanks to our hard work, Chattahoochee is a team to be reckoned with.”

Paramesh said it felt “amazing being part of something like this. It feels great to work as a team to accomplish something greater than myself.

Added Paramesh: “Every time I go out to compete I feel as though I’m representing Chattahoochee and our Quiz Bowl alumni. Being a part of something so much bigger than myself makes me feel like I have a place in Chattahoochee and that I’m doing something meaningful.”

Zhu said his team succeeded “because of our genuine love for learning and soaking up all the information we can … Quiz bowl represents such a great idea because it’s purely a game of hard work. The gameplay is fast-paced and extremely tense at times, and demonstrating the knowledge we gained through the past four years gives a us very intense feeling of validation for the work we’ve put in.”

According to a news release from the marketing team promoting the event, Quiz Bowl tournaments “comprise a competitive platform that motivates students to do their best, cultivates analytical thinking, tests understanding and encourages collaboration and teamwork.”

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