Lights, Camera, Answers

SP Teens Compete On “It’s Academic”


It was lights, camera and answers for Severna Park High School’s It’s Academic team as they competed with McDonogh and Parkville during the battle of the brains.

The three students from Severna Park — Kelly Smith, Adam Didouchevski and Zach McGrath — competed virtually on the iconic high school show, which is in its 60th season. The competition was held October 18 and aired on WJZ-TV on November 28.

“We all used Zoom from our homes, but we were able to have five to six seconds to confer if we needed to,” McGrath said.

Questions on the show ranged from American presidents and geography to math and literature. The students on the Severna Park’s It’s Academic team practice biweekly and there are 14 students in the club. History teacher and faculty advisor Theresa Goldberg chose these three students due to seniority and how well they answer questions during practice sessions. The alternate was Cecilia Clanton.

McGrath, a sophomore, was excited before the show’s taping but became more confident as the show began. “It seemed like the anxiety melted away as the first questions were asked,” said McGrath, who added that he had a great night’s sleep before the taping.

McGrath was an alternate last year and that also helped him prepare for this year’s competition. He admitted that he has always been eager to learn, he is a straight A student, and he has taken multiple advanced placement courses so far. His dad is a teacher at the Naval Academy and his grandfather was also a teacher.

The McGrath family moved to the Berrywood neighborhood six years ago when Zach was in elementary school. He has attended Folger McKinsey Elementary, Old Mill South for its STEM program and now is at Severna Park High School.

When asked about attending school virtually, McGrath noted that “the teachers have done a great job in creating lesson plans and keeping everyone enthused.” He added that the camaraderie amongst his fellow students is strong, noting that they all wore their Severna Park Hawaiian shirts on the show. McGrath feels that “everyone wants to get back to the classroom eventually and see each other in the hallway, lunch and after-school activities.”

Severna Park won the round of It’s Academic, as the final score was Severna Park, 455; McDonough, 370; and Parkville, 290.

The It’s Academic team will continue competing in the next round, following the completion of the first round that ends January 30. If they finish as one of the final three teams for this year, they get rewarded with scholarship money for college.

McGrath hopes to further his education at Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins or Yale, and he wants to follow his grandfather and father’s footsteps and teach.


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