It’s Academic’s Uncertain Future


Photo by Elenna Mach

Students answer practice questions during the It’s Academic practice using their buzzers. The club’s studio is being moved and team members expressed concern over losing their Giant Foods sponsorship.

Elenna Mach and Sabina Salguero

Every Monday and Wednesday evening, the It’s Academic team studies together. Only, they are going over things most students are not concerned about, such as which Turkish empire brought tulips to Europe.

It’s Academic is a competitive club that has been running for over 50 years where schools from the D.C, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area have the opportunity to appear on television and play against each other in the world’s longest-running television quiz show.

However, this ongoing tradition of over half a century is being posed with a silent threat. The studio in which It’s Academic tapes their 27 regular shows, nine playoffs, three semifinals and championship game, is being moved next year to remodel the studio. As a result, the program’s long time 40-year sponsorship with Giant Food (Giant) is at risk of ending, members of the team said.

In efforts to demonstrate to Giant the importance of It’s Academic, especially at RHS, sponsor David Goodrich started a letter writing campaign, where other It’s Academic sponsors in the DMV area, can express the program’s value in the community.

“We’re worried, we don’t know what can happen to It’s Academic as a result of our studio being moved,” Goodrich said. “I’ve began a letter writing campaign and we’re trying to get as many letters written as possible to let Giant know how important It’s Academic is to us.”

The letter writing campaign has attracted potential filming studios as well as potential sponsors; however, the future of It’s Academic is still uncertain, Goodrich says.

Goodrich has been sponsoring RHS’ It’s Academic team for more than 18 years and won a championship back in 2010. Dating further back to his days at Madison High School (HS) in Vienna, Va., Goodrich was a member of their It’s Academic team 48 years ago.

Along with the letters to Giant, the team is spreading awareness on an Instagram account @saveitsacademics to spotlight how much the club means not only to their members, but also the rest of the community.

Sophomore Zainab Balhis joined It’s Academic this school year and ever since becoming a member, she has acquired a growing passion for the club, which is why she has been trying her best to advocate the importance of it, she said.

“We’re trying to make It’s Academic a known thing, because not many people know about it, so by spreading the word we hope to get people more involved,” Balhis said.

Giant has been sponsoring It’s Academic since the sixth year after the show’s debut in 1961, and the possibility of losing their sponsorship has shaken the It’s Academic community as it has the potential to end the show. Coach Mike Smith (‘04) was on RHS’ It’s Academic team from 2001-04, becoming captain his senior year. From being a student on the team to now coaching its new members, Smith expressed his concern over what losing Giant’s sponsorship could mean for It’s Academic’s legacy at RHS.

“It’s Academic has many ties to history,” Smith said. “It’s where the Kennedy and Nixon debate was televised in. You also have people who have major accomplishments such as many people from Congress who were once on It’s Academic.”

Despite these concerns, the team remains ambitious. Practices still take place two days a week with the mindset of winning championships, Goodrich said.

As of now, RHS It’s Academic A-team is one of eight high schools in Montgomery County advancing to the Montgomery Academic Beltway League finals Feb. 21. The team has already won their first taped match this year, and is currently waiting to tape their next match against rival Richard Montgomery HS and Landon HS Feb. 16.

“I can see us winning championships this year,” Goodrich said. “We have a team with a lot of experience. I think we can make a legitimate run at both the county league and the TV show at the Metro Championships as well.”