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February 18, 2007

Southeastern deaf academic bowl teams compete at Berkmar High

From: Gwinnett Daily Post - Griffin,GA,USA - Feb 18, 2007

By Heather Darenberg
Staff Writer

LILBURN — Berkmar High School’s library was quiet as teams of high school students from throughout the Southeast participated in an academic competition, answering questions about geography, literature, math, history, science, culture and more.

Between rounds, the room remained quiet as participants spoke to their team members using American Sign Language.

The 2007 Gallaudet University High School Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students matched 16 teams Friday and Saturday in a regional competition that determined the two teams that will advance to the national competition in April. This year is the first year the Southeast regional competition was held at a public school.

Berkmar High School was one of five public schools and one of seven teams from Georgia to compete in the regional competition. The school houses Gwinnett County Public Schools’ deaf and hard of hearing program for high schoolers, but about 60 schools in the county have hard of hearing students, said Eva Parks, the school district’s coordinator for special education programs.

Tiffany Slieff, a junior at Berkmar and the team captain, said through an interpreter the competition is important because “it shows people that deaf people are just as smart as hearing people.”

Senior Margaret Dixon agreed, saying the competition allowed her to show off her talents.

The Berkmar team, which has participated in the Academic Bowl before, said they were happy to host the regional competition. The other team members were Michael Gibson, Colby Malone and Jeannette Simmonds.

“We’re very happy we’re here,” Slieff said. “My family and friends have got a chance to watch me compete.”

Team head coach Greg Owen said the Academic Bowl helps bring together Georgia’s “very large deaf community.”

“We’ve really represented the Atlanta area very well,” he said.

Other teams in the competition were Alabama School for the Deaf, Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, Eastern North Carolina, Georgia School for the Deaf, Florida School for the Deaf, Jonesboro High School, Kennesaw Mountain High School, Lassiter High School, Louisiana School for the Deaf, Mississippi School for the Deaf, Pinellas County Academic, South Carolina School for the Deaf, Starr’s Mill High School, Tennessee School for the Deaf and White Station High School.

©2007 Gwinnett Daily Post