Academic Olympics: A Journey of a Lifetime

Kevyn Dufresne, Editor

On April 19th, I joined 5 other students to attend the 36th Commissioner’s Academic Challenge as a member of Team Sarasota. I will talk about this exciting competition, the amazing opportunities I was given, and the lifelong friends I made on this incredible trip. While this might not follow a typical journalistic format, this topic will be much more interesting if I explain it from my perspective. Without further ado, let’s begin. 

Since February, I had been taking weekly trips on Tuesdays to Pineview High School, where I spent hours practicing with the incredible group of guys that I had the pleasure to befriend. My fellow Team members were Prabhav Govindu from Pineview, Ronan Venkat from Pineview, Ace Kehoe from Venice High School, Oscar Colin-Castruita from Suncoast Polytechnical High School, Alexander Pongo from Riverview High School. I represented North Port High School on the team. We had many long practices led by Steven Case, a physics teacher from Venice High. We studied the results of the finals and questions from years past, developing a strong sense of camaraderie in the process.  

On the morning of April 19th, I woke up bright and early at 4:15 to prepare for my trip. I quickly got ready and left for Venice High School. Under the cover of darkness, we met up and put our luggage in Mrs. Case’s car. Leaving at 6:00, we used practice quiz bowl questions to prepare. Around 10, we arrived at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, where we had a great time riding many rides such as Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Tron Lightcycle Run, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Carribean. After a long and efficient day, we headed over to Epcot. Once we arrived, we rode an assortment of rides including Spaceship Earth, Cosmic Rewind, Mission Space, Soarin, and Test Track. After a hearty dinner and a moonlit walk around the park’s world showcase, we retired to Hampton Inn for the night. 


The next morning, we woke up bright and early to go to the orientation. We had breakfast early at the Hampton, and we drove to the Omni Championsgate Resort. Orientation was held in a ballroom, and free coffee and drinks were provided to all. After orientation, attendees received a complementary lunch, and we began our first preliminary round at 2:30. There were 3 rounds of 20 questions each, and we competed against the Martin and Citrus County teams. Through hard work and lots of knowledge, our team won with a whopping 321 points. After basking In our victory, we relaxed at the luxurious resort, going to the pool and enjoying savory Italian food for dinner. 

On Saturday Morning, we woke up and had an easy morning, taking advantage of the free breakfast and playing a quick round of mini golf at the resort. We had lunch and went to our Division 2 Semifinal round with Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Escambia, and St Lucie Counties. Unfortunately, we didn’t go to the finals, losing by a meager 9 points. Even though we hadn’t made it all the way to the end, we still had a valuable and fun experience. After the round, we went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where we rode Rise of the Resistance and Smugglers Run. We ate delicious Mediterranean food and watched the Fantasmic show, later heading to Downtown Disney to walk around and eat ice cream.  

The next morning, we finally prepared to leave after a leisurely morning and a tasty Italian luncheon. Awards were handed out to the top schools, and the overall atmosphere was very positive. We headed back to Venice content with the amazing time all of us had spent together.   I made a group of friends that I will remember for a lifetime and got to participate in an amazing experience.