The Wyoming High School Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Academic Bowl Team is headed to the national championship tournament, hosted by Gallaudet University, after a third consecutive win at the regional competition in Salem, Oregon.
The Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing (D/HH) bowl team is comprised of high school students from across the state of Wyoming. Gabrielle Reinmann, senior at Kelly Walsh High School and member of the team, said the community formed by the D/HH Academic Bowl Team is one of the best parts of the experience.
“We are spread all over the state and for some students, they are the only D/HH kids in our schools,” Reinmann said. “The special thing about Deaf Academic Bowl is it allows us to meet kids that are high school aged from all across the country and learn about their experiences and how they advocate for themselves.”
Students competing in the D/HH Academic Bowl spend months preparing to answer questions about history, language arts, art, math, science and technology, current events, potpourri, sports, pop-culture, and deaf-culture.
Due to the difficult nature of travel in Wyoming, the team often does not practice together until arriving at a competition. Reinmann said that this has been one of the biggest challenges in preparing for competitions.
“The Wyoming team’s first opportunity to practice is the mock round the night before our first match at competition and that is usually the first time we’ve met all year,” Reinmann said
Joshua Graves, senior from Campbell County High School, said that a lot of work goes in to getting ready to compete.
“It is a lot of work,” Graves said. “It’s kind of like deaf jeopardy.”
The regional competition was held in Salem, Oregon last month. The eight students on the Wyoming team competed against over 80 other students and came in third place.
Joshua Graves, senior from Green River High School, said that regionals helped him learn how to become a better competitor.
“Regionals prepares us in a way that lets us know that we need to practice more in certain areas and be faster in answering the questions,” Graves said.
Reinmann said that the D/HH Academic Bowl is unique because it promotes friendship between members of opposing teams.
“It provides us not only with an academic challenge, memories that last a life-time, traveling experience, and skills useful for the future, but also the opportunity to socialize with and meet other individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing,” Reinmann said.
Graves said he believes competing with the team has helped to prepare him for life after high school.
“Being in the academic bowl helped me learn how to just randomly have a decent conversation with some random person I have never met,” Graves said. This will be great with job interviews because I will come across strangers.”
The national competition will be held in Washington D.C. from Apr. 24 to 28. Graves said that the most important thing for people to know about the team’s accomplishments is that the D/HH community exists and is capable of anything they put their minds to.
“We do not let our hearing affect our knowledge, we let our knowledge affect our skills,” Graves said. “I hope those who are studying American Sign Language or other Deaf-related fields can go witness a regional competition, observe the Deaf environment, and support the Wyoming teams.”