By Karen Gutierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FLORENCE - Fourth-grader Alyssa Sumpter is certain she won't be sleeping tonight.
Early Saturday may be even worse.
"I just, like, walk around in circles for an hour," Alyssa says.
Academic competition is just that nerve-wracking.
Around 11 a.m. on Saturday, Alyssa and about 10,000 other elementary school students in Kentucky will face the first round of the state's premier academic contest: The Governor's Cup.
Individual students will write compositions and take exams in math, social studies, science, language arts and arts and humanities.
In addition, quick-recall teams from each school will race to answer questions such as, "What term means the buying and selling of goods?" and "What is the comparative form of the adjective 'happy'?"
(Answers: Commerce and happier.)
In Northern Kentucky, 45 schools will compete in 10 districts. Exams and compositions are scored on the spot, so by Saturday evening, the top five students and top two recall teams in each district will know they're going on to regional competition March 6.
Collins Elementary in Florence is a host school for Saturday's events. Its quick-recall teams have been practicing under the direction of teacher Cathleen Rahschulte.
Students also are plotting game-day strategies.
Fifth-grader Travis Montgomery says he plans to eat spaghetti tonight, which should help him think better for the math test Saturday.
Blake Kennedy, a fourth-grader, says he may try one of his father's sports techniques: Falling asleep to a tape of himself repeating the phrase, "I will win."
Blake's event is quick recall. Working in teams of four, students press buzzers to be the first to answer questions correctly.
It's all very exciting.
Says Alyssa: "You just step up there and go, 'Oh my gosh, I'm not going to do anything,' and the next thing you know ...."
"... you're, like, having fun and answering a bunch of questions," Blake finishes.
Academic competition is more widespread than people probably think, the students say. Quick-recall teams compete against each other for weeks leading up to the Governor's Cup.
"We don't really get any glory," says fifth-grader Kathryn Hardin.
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