Frederick County Academic Tournament
In its 39th year, the Frederick County Academic Tournament is open free to the public and promises to bring its usual excitement as students go head to head, putting their knowledge and recall to the test. Since 1982, Linganore teams have won the tournament nine times, Frederick High teams have won six, teams from Gov. Thomas Johnson, Middletown, and Walkersville have each won five, teams from Urbana and Brunswick have each won three, and teams from Catoctin and Tuscarora have each won once.
In the tournament’s first year, FCPS Superintendent Stuart Berger read questions to student teams in a format developed by John George and Carol Fogler. The first competition lasted only one evening. Brunswick, Catoctin, Middletown and Walkersville teams competed and selected a winner to play the top-scoring team from a competition among Governor Thomas Johnson, Frederick and Linganore.
Three years later, FCPS expanded the competition to a regular "season," comparable to the seasons used by sports teams. Russell Beaton developed the new format with more question rounds and use of an official buzzer system and became the competition’s first emcee. The season was played from school to school each week, with finals at Hood College. In recent years, the finals were held at Urbana High, Frederick High and then Linganore High auditoriums.
Throughout the years, Russell Beaton, Carl Herbert, Ted Luck, Martha Meadows, Bonnie Ward, Judy Thompson, James Deegan, and Joshua Ballew have been primarily responsible for developing tournament questions, assisted by many others.
St. John’s Literary Institution at Prospect Hall’s team participated in the tournament for several years. Urbana High sent a team the first year it opened in the 1995-96 school year.
In 1996, Superintendent Dan Gadra instituted the Curriculum Specialists’ Award, later named the Charles “Chuck” Thomas Memorial Award in memory of a respected Brunswick High coach. Among those honored for their exceptional contributions to the tournament: former FCPS Superintendent Dan Gadra, Board of Education member and past president Jean Smith, the 1996-97 Brunswick High team, Catoctin High team advisor John Koepke, the Powell family: Kate, Billy & Becky, Curriculum Specialist Russell Beaton, Cable 18 Television Manager Tim Dean, Brunswick High team advisor Louis Eskuchen, former Walkersville High team advisors Eric and Rebecca Reickel, Oakdale High Principal Dr. George Seaton, former Supervisor of Athletics and Extracurricular Activities Perry Baker, Media Specialist at Linganore High School Marsha Thompson, Walkersville alumnus Kelly Misner, administrative secretary for FCPS Cheryl Peters, Urbana High School Principal David Kehne, and Frederick High School Principal Kathy Campagnoli. The 2019 recipient of the Chuck Thomas Memorial Award was Darrin Drum, Walkersville High School Math Teacher and Academic Tournament team advisor.