KIPP DC College Preparatory Students to Compete in ‘It’s Academic’ in First-Ever Appearance

By Sam P.K. Collins

After airing on NBC4 (WRC-TV) for more than six decades, “It’s Academic” has found a new home at WETA amid ongoing conversations nationwide about racial equity and how audiences consume media.

During what will be “It’s Academic’s” 62nd season, three students from KIPP DC College Preparatory, a mostly-Black public charter school in Northeast, will compete against Washington International School in Northwest and Sandy Spring Friends School in Sandy Springs, Maryland.

Christina Bryant, Kaleb Fitzgerald and Jasiyah Jones spent a recent two-hour taping recounting facts and executing strategies learned while training with their coaches Patrick Wu and Chris Gleditsch.

The significance of October 16 had not been lost on team members, particularly Kaleb.

“Low key we’re the only school repping Black people,” said Kaleb, a junior at KIPP College Preparatory and It’s Academic team captain.

“We didn’t perform as well … but with more studying and participation from those who want to help us and put in the effort, we can get to that level in due time.”

On Oct. 29, It’s Academic’s virtual season premiere on WETA will feature teams from Herndon High School in Herndon, Virginia, Washington-Liberty High School in Alexandria, Virginia and W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia.

The episode featuring KIPP DC College Preparatory is scheduled to air in December.

For several years, students from 81 D.C. metropolitan high schools competed on “It’s Academic” surrounded by cheerleaders, bands and screaming audience members in an environment fashioned like a homecoming football game.

Jackson-Reed High School in Northwest and Anacostia High School in Southeast counted among the District schools to appear on the program. Similarly-formatted television programs across the United States continue to air in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and other cities.

The Informer unsuccessfully attempted to gather comment from NBC4 about the circumstances of “It’s Academic’s” removal, and that of the annual Informer spelling bee.

Over the last couple of decades, game questions and contestants featured on “It’s Academic” have increasingly reflected the ethnic and cultural diversity of the U.S. These days, students who appear in the program often hail from various racial communities in the United States and around the world.

Additionally, contestants will more than likely receive questions about events and inventions involving people of color.

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