Team Belleville Wins 2023 Academic Bowl

Marie Perry, Communications Director for the School District of Belleville

Front Row (L-R): Timothy Fleener, Lillian Palmer, Aidan Cook, Zella Palmer, Savannah Meland, Ari Mehta, Aidan Perry. Middle Row (L-R): Adalynn Hendrickson, Alora Spiegel, Emily Swanson, Violet Swanson, Tillie Heitz. Back Row (L-R): Shannon McCall, Isaac Erb, Tyler Wenzel. Photo courtesy of Marie Perry


The Wildcats took home the 1st Place victory at the Capitol Conference Academic Bowl held at Lakeside Lutheran High School on Monday, November 6th, 2023, with individual titles going to Zella Palmer (English 11), Timothy Fleener (Physical Science), Lillian Palmer (Geography) and Isaac Erb (US History).  It was a great success for Team Belleville and their Coaches, Betsy Jenkins, Chad Hodgson and Meredith Smith!  Six teams gathered to show their academic prowess this year, with Belleville coming out on top.

Chad Hodgson noted, “I think this is a great opportunity for students to come together and compete in an academic setting in subject areas that they have demonstrated innate knowledge and passion in.”

The Academic Bowl teams draw upon the academic talents of fifteen members each spanning all four high school grades – 9th through 12th.  They compete in the Capitol Conference Academic Bowl Competition annually on the first Monday of November, and the winning team is prized with a traveling trophy.  Belleville High School (BHS) has celebrated this win historically seven times since 2010, and has taken a first place win four out of the last five years.  Competing team members are recommended by their teachers in the categories of Language Arts, Science (Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry), and Social Studies (U.S. History, World History, Geography).

Belleville’s 2023 winning Academic Bowl team members are Timothy Fleener, Lillian Palmer, Aidan Cook, Zella Palmer, Savannah Meland, Ari Mehta, Aidan Perry, Adalynn Hendrickson, Alora Spiegel, Emily Swanson, Violet Swanson, Tillie Heitz, Shannon McCall, Isaac Erb, and Lucas Peterson.

The tests are difficult and for a team to win like this, everyone has to bring their “A” game across the academic disciplines.  Belleville’s entire Science team worked hard no matter whether their individual tests were in Biology, Chemistry, or Physical Science and as Meredith Smith underscored, “Regardless of how a team member does in their [individual] event, they help the entire team with the team score!”

In looking over the results of the competition, Chad Hodgson highlighted that Lillian Palmer scored a 37/40 on her individual Geography exam – the highest score since 2006 (and maybe ever in Belleville’s history as digital records are not kept prior to 2006).

In addition to Zella’s individual first place win, Elizabeth Jenkins was proud of her English students as they won their oral round as a team!

“I may have had a celebratory dance after their win...I appreciate how well our students represented our school as well as exhibited by their vast knowledge on an array of topics.  Their brilliance never ceases to amaze me!” emphasized Jenkins.

Winning the annual Academic Bowl repeatedly is a testimony to the rich educational experience students get from passionate teachers in a small rural community.  Belleville takes its academic standards seriously in providing a wide range of Advanced Placement course choices across the disciplines, and a strong teaching staff to work with its students to achieve academic success.  Seeing the repeated positive performance in the Academic Bowl underscores how prepared these students are for the rigors college will demand as they take their next steps beyond the walls of BHS.