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East Lawrence middle schoolers to compete in national scholar competition in first year

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. -  A national Scholars' Bowl is set to challenge young minds, and a Tennessee Valley middle school is one of six that have qualified for the events.

The fifth and sixth graders that make up the team at East Lawrence Middle study hard and prepare often, and have no qualified for the U.S. Academic Bowl in Chicago, Illinois.

One student, sixth grader Jacob Smith, also qualified as an individual for the national competition.

"I think it's because we practice so much and we just have a good team," said Smith.

The feat is particularly notable because this is the first year ELMS has had a Scholars Bowl team.

"Year one we're already doing something I thought would've been a long-term goal," said teacher and team sponsor Russell Wilhite. "Right now we’re one of only six teams who has actually qualified in the fifth and sixth grade divisions to go."

The students say they are nervous but ready to prove themselves.

"I feel proud that we get this chance to express ourselves as such a small school," said Peyton Knop, sixth grader and team captain for the trip.

But this type achievement isn't new to the campus, just across the green at East Lawrence High is a group of Scholars' Bowl role models.

"The high school team, this is two years in a row they've been to the state competition this year," explained Wilhite. "They've actually be state champions in the small school division for two years running."

The East Lawrence Middle School 5-6th grade Scholars’ Bowl team will travel to the national tournament in Illinois on May 27-29.