Maryland team members have won first place in the 2002 Panasonic Academic Challenge, a national academic “quiz bowl” competition. In the three-day contest held at Disney World in Florida, the team edged out 30 other states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands in areas of math, science, computer technology, history and the arts.
Three members of the winning six-member team are 2002 graduates of Montgomery County Public Schools.
The six players for Team Maryland were tri-captains Francisco Brito (Quince Orchard High School), Peter Nilson (Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George’s County), and Jacob Leibenluft (Richard Montgomery High School); and starters Arthur O'Dwyer (Richard Montgomery High School), and Rebecca Lambert and Patrick McKinney (Howard High School in Howard County).
The team was prepared by coaches Kevin Keegan (Journalism teacher at James Hubert Blake High School) and Mike Kravitz (recently retired Honors Chemistry teacher at Montgomery Blair High School) and assistant coach Joe Caulfield (AP English teacher at James Hubert Blake High School).
Each player won a $2,500 scholarship, and Brito won an additional $1,000 as a tournament all-star. Players and coaches also won Herff Jones national championship rings.
This was Maryland's seventh national title since 1988 in this prestigious and rigorous national academic tournament.