Spencer Math and Science Academy won first place in the Chicago Public Schools Area 3 Academic Olympic Bowl Tuesday, April 12, for the second consecutive year.

The Academic Olympic bowl is an annual competition where teams of five students from schools in the region compete against each other in various academic subjects.

The students answer questions based on the Illinois State Standards and the CPS curriculum.

“They worked very hard, and I think they deserve recognition,” said Shonta Muhammad, the faculty coach for Spencer Academy.

The members of the winning team, Number One Seahawks, were Desze Adams, Jairus Baker, Brian Harrington, Julius Lagrone, and Amaris Marshall. The alternate team members were Harold Johnson, Janessa Lott, and Shijuanna Oliver. Seahawk is the Spencer Academy mascot.

Except for Lagrone and Lott, who are in seventh grade, the rest of the team members are eighth-graders.

“I spend about seven or eight hours a day studying,” said Adams. “We try our best to win; and there’s a lot of satisfaction in winning.”

Adams also placed second in the upper-grade division individual math competition.

“I feel great, but we owe a lot to Mrs. Muhammad,” said Harrington. Team members said their preparation was very thorough as Muhammad anticipated the questions with great accuracy.

“We never knew what questions were going to be asked,” said Marshall. “But we were very prepared. … She gave us a lot of confidence.”

The Spencer team is now preparing to compete in the Citywide Academic Bowl, which will be held May 26.

Carolyn Palmer, principal of Spencer Academy, said the win is an indication of just one of the many movements of Spencer Academy toward an innovative, “out of the box” education.

“The new focus of the school is to try new things,” she said. “We are implementing a lot of academic pilot programs, and we are seeing good results.”

Palmer said, “Children’s eagerness to learn despite their circumstances” is the driving force behind her dedication.

“We sometimes find ourselves spending too much time to correct those kids who act out. … That’s important, too, but now we are trying to take children’s talents and build them up way higher,” she said.

She said Spencer Academy is introducing a variety of subjects to children at a younger age to allow them plenty of time to master the skills.

The composition of Spencer team is an example. Members such as Marshall competed in the bowl when she was in the seventh grade.

“The team is mixed … there are seventh- and eighth-graders,” Marshall said. “Younger kids get experience and compete again when they reach eighth grade.”

Palmer said Spencer Academy will continue to strive toward excellence and most important of all, creativity.

“I don’t like thinking in the box”I always tell the teachers, ‘Don’t bring me that same old crap … let’s do something different,’ and it really fires up the teachers, especially the younger ones, because they want to try something different,” she said.

But for now, Spencer Academy is gearing up once again for the upcoming citywide competition.

“Tell them to watch out”the Seahawks are coming,” said Baker.