Return to Headlines

Normandy Academic Challenge Team makes school proud on WEWS quiz show

Normandy Academic Challenge Team


April 8, 2019



by Rut Muzychuk

11th Grade,

Normandy High School



Recently, three students were put to the test as they showcased their knowledge as members of the Normandy Academic Challenge Team.


Normandy’s Academic Challenge Team has faced many challenges over the last 20 years, including financial concerns.  However, the club has persevered, and competed this year on the Academic Challenge TV show.


“Academic Challenge”, now in its 51st season, airs locally on WEWS-TV, Channel 5.  The quiz show tests local high school students’ knowledge in a variety of subject areas.  This year, Normandy competed against two other high schools from Cuyahoga County in Solon and Strongsville.  The show aired on February 9, 2019.


Normandy’s Academic Challenge Team is led by two science teachers at the school, Tom Verlie and Dr. Donna Turner.  Both have been a part of this television phenomenon for many years, experiencing both wins and losses.


“It’s not about being on TV,” Turner stated. “It’s a fun opportunity for the students to compete and challenge themselves.”


Although the team is comprised of three individuals, it had to be pared down from a group of over 15 students. To find the perfect people for the job, practice sessions were held to help see who would do well under the pressure of competition.


The practices took place on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  They included a mock episode practice where students were given twenty-year-old buzzers to simulate ones they would have in the show. Then, Verlie and Turner presented the students with questions, many taken from the show as well.  This process ensured that the best practice questions were used. Scores were also kept and every time a student answered the question correctly, they received a point.


Eventually, the time came to choose team members. The top three students who accumulated the most points at the end of the practice sessions were chosen.


The team representing Normandy was lead by senior Dominic Matras, a member of the Marching Band, Science Olympiad, Chemistry Olympiad, Track, and Cross Country teams.


Also representing Normandy was senior Brennan Kowalski, who participates in Marching Band, Morning Announcement Team, Chemistry Olympiad, and Science Olympiad teams.


The team was rounded out by Kevin Bubnik, a junior, who is the class president is and a member of the Drama Club.


Even though the team featured top students and worked extremely hard, Normandy finished second out of three teams, narrowly losing to Solon 595 to 575.


Despite the loss, the team was not upset. They continue to study and excel, hoping the next generation of students will get their chance to represent Normandy and bring the title of the Academic Challenge Champions home next year.


In addition, the Academic Challenge Team’s performance was a good way to show the community what Parma City Schools are all about, especially at Normandy.


"This is our way of showing what Normandy High School has and can accomplish,” Bubnik said.  “Having the community support us, and cheer on Normandy really does motivate one to study, and keep up the good Normandy name.”


“It was an incredible experience, something I wouldn’t mid doing over again,” Matras said.


To watch the Normandy Academic Challenge team compete, visit



PHOTO CAPTION:  The 2019 Normandy High School Academic Challenge Team (L-R):  Brennan Kowalski, senior, Dominic Matras, senior and Kevin Bubnik, junior.