SULPHUR, Okla. -- The Oklahoma School for the Deaf’s Academic Team finished in the top 16 in the U.S. at the national Academic Bowl held April 23 through 28 at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.
This is the first time OSD has qualified to compete at the national level.
Twenty-four U.S. teams qualified to go to Gallaudet University, which is the world leader in liberal education and career development for deaf and hard of hearing students.
OSD team members were sophomore Aaron Kellner from Park Hill, senior Sean Thomas Sledd from Ada and juniors Va’Lecia Penney from Hominy and Ty Brady from Sulphur.
The students are coached by OSD teachers Deb Ulery and Lawson Pair.
Eighty Academic Teams from U.S. schools for deaf competed at the regional level for a chance to advance to the national Academic Bowl.
OSD finished regionals with nine wins and two losses. That record placed them among the top four teams in the region, qualifying the team to compete at the national level.
OSD finished the season with 20 wins and six losses.
“We’re just as smart as anyone else and perfectly capable,” Academic Team member Va'Lecia Penney, a junior from Hominy, explained.
Math, she admits, is her hardest subject.
The Academic Bowl includes three rounds.
During the first round, individual students buzz in and answer. If they get the question right, each student has a chance to answer a bonus question.
The teams take turns in round two, which requires each member of the teams to answer individual questions.
The third round is a team effort.
“My favorite part is third round when we have to answer 10 questions in two minutes,” Va'Lecia Penney explained. “We all discuss and answer as a group…. Then one person will write down the answer, which goes to the judges for them to see if it’s correct”.
In the academic bowl for hearing kids, competitors buzz in and answer orally,” Penney explained, “but deaf students are required to spell it right and have correct grammar.”
This is “the best record in OSD history,” said proud coach and OSD teacher Deb Ulery. “These four kids have worked really hard. We were very excited to get the chance to compete at nationals for the first time.”
The Oklahoma School for the Deaf has achieved a 100 percent graduation rate for five years. Students must meet all graduation requirements established by the state. In 2014, 159 students lived at the school during the week or commuted from home and 76 attended summer school classes. OSD operates two strategically placed satellite preschools at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and the University of Arts and Sciences of Oklahoma in Chickasha. As the statewide resource center for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, OSD provides thousands of free evaluations and direct services each year for students attending local public schools, their families and educators.
The School for the Deaf is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
For more information, phone (580) 622-4900 or (888) 685-3333 toll free or visit the website at www.osd.k12.ok.us/ .