Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Catholic Schools 'shine' In State's 2019 Academic Super Bowl

The Message photo by Megan Erbacher. Photo ID is at the bottom of the story.

On April 27, many Catholic Diocese of Evansville schools “shined,” according to Resurrection School Principal Theresa Berendes, as they took home several top-10 finishes in the 2019 Indiana Academic Super Bowl.

Catholic schools competed locally at Central High School in Class 4 of the junior division, grades 6-8. The competition was founded in 1987 with a goal for teams of students to enhance their research and study skills.

Competition topics change annually, and students compete in five categories: English, math, science, social studies and interdisciplinary.

Shelley Bealmear, academic team coach for St. James School in Haubstadt, said this year’s questions were based on the Fertile Crescent, which is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East. St. James’ team earned two statewide Top 10 spots: state runner-up in science and ninth in interdisciplinary, which is a category that includes all subject areas.

“I was extremely proud of the students and the amount of knowledge that they exhibited,” Bealmear said. “The students put in about four months’ worth of preparation so it was nice to see their hard work pay off in the end.”

Other statewide Top 10 finishers from local Catholic schools in the Junior Division, Class 4 are:

  • St. Wendel School: Interdisciplinary, third place; science, eighth place
  • St. Benedict Cathedral School: Interdisciplinary, sixth place; math, fifth place
  • Holy Rosary School: Interdisciplinary, eighth place; English, ninth; math, ninth
  • Holy Redeemer: English, tenth place
  • Resurrection: Science, fourth place
  • Good Shepherd: Science, seventh place

Other local Catholic schools that competed were Annunciation at Christ the King School and Rivet Middle/High School.

School administrators applauded students and coaches for their hours and months’ worth of work after school.

Placing at the local meet was a first for St. Wendel academic team coach Mark Furman, and he said seeing students earn top spots in the state make it all worth it. Furman said the competition teaches kids on multiple levels and across specialized content which gives them the chance to showcase their mental talents.

“They must work together and rely on one another in order to do well. … The ability to critically think and discuss possible answers while under a time limit for each question is a crucial skill for students that can be applied in many facets as they mature and later enter the work force,” he said.

Holy Rosary Principal Joan Fredrich said it’s great to see the extra effort studying difficult content pay off for kids.

“This competition provides another opportunity for students to use and learn new academic and study skills, to be exposed to interesting content and to collaborate and problem solve as a team to support and encourage each other,” Fredrich said. “This competition allows students to showcase a different muscle, the brain, in order to accomplish a team goal in which every individual's contribution matters!”

Holy Redeemer Principal Tim McIntosh gave kudos to the students for the “enormous” amount of information they must study outside of all their other commitments.

“The competition is important because being part of these teams requires self-sacrifice, self-discipline, ability to focus and a tremendous work ethic,” McIntosh said. “Students will find that the most successful adults in any field possess those traits. Preparing, competing and measuring yourself against others enables students to set goals and benchmarks to attain and surpass.”

Berendes is proud of Resurrection students’ performance, and said coaches and kids have worked “diligently” for months to prepare.

“We love to be able to provide academic extra-curriculars to our students,” she said. “Our students thrive on this kind of activity to provide them with an opportunity to go above and beyond the lessons in the classroom.”

All principals agreed: they hope students came away with pride, accomplishment and a sense of teamwork.

“I give my students all the credit in the world,” Furman said. “They studied and learned all the content and applied their knowledge when it counted.”

For a full list of statewide Junior Division results, visit


PHOTO CAPTION:  St. James School academic team: Zane Spainhoward, front row left, Caden Lamey, Kaleb Weber, Karrigan Cieslinski, Emilee Bullock, Lauren Turner and Sadie Hofman; back row: Logan Tooley, left, Jason Sexton, Drew Claybrooks, Patrick Williams, Ava  Weisheit and Eliott Church.