The Brainy Bunch
When Bethesda Magazine first wrote about them in 2006, the members of the It's Academic team were among the best and the brightest at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda. Where are they now?
Adam Newman was a senior and co-captain of Walter Johnson’s It’s Academic team during the 2005-06 school year. Newman remembers when he and his teammates mounted a dramatic comeback against Silver Spring’s Blake High School in the Washington area semifinals. “To this day, it still brings tears to my eyes,” he says.
Though he didn’t compete in quiz bowls in college, Newman regularly went with his parents to trivia nights at local restaurants. After graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in history, he worked for Simulyze, a Reston, Va.-based computer engineering company. He recently relocated to Santa Monica., Calif., where at press time he was still looking for work.
Since moving to the West Coast, Newman has been dropping in on a trivia night that he says is attended by many Jeopardy champions. “The first time I went,” he says, “I recognized a gentleman named Jerome Vared who played in the [Jeopardy!] Tournament of Champions with my dad in 1992. He also happened to finish third in Jeopardy’s Ultimate Tournament from 2005 and is the show’s third highest winner of all time. After introducing myself, we have become friends.”
Newman recently encountered Brad Rutter, Jeopardy’s highest-grossing contestant, as well. “So basically it is ironic and awesome that five months ago I was attending trivia back home in Bethesda with my dad [Steve], who is a six-time champion,” Newman says, “and now I go to a weekly trivia with several Jeopardy champions, including some of the most prolific trivia people one would ever meet.”
Alex Price was a senior and co-captain of the WJ team. He majored in economics at Emory University in Atlanta, and was pursuing his master’s degree in real estate finance at Georgetown University before taking an academic leave. He’s now working in commercial real estate in San Francisco.
During his time at Emory, Price published academic competition question packets with Chris Ray, the captain of Richard Montgomery’s It’s Academic team in 2005-06. Ray’s team defeated Price’s in the championship that year. Price says he’d someday like to give back to the It’s Academic community. “Ideally, I’d love to work towards corporate sponsorship for traveling for many of the teams,” he says.
Tianhui Shen was a junior on WJ’s team in 2005-06. He continued with academic competitions in college, and was a member of Washington University in St. Louis’ quiz bowl team during his freshman and sophomore years. He graduated in 2011 with degrees in architecture and finance, and was studying for his master’s degree in architecture at Columbia University in New York. He interned last summer at Lehman Smith McLeish, a design strategy firm based in D.C., and hopes someday to start his own company.
Andre Joutz was a senior on the team, but did not participate in the finals because he and Shen shared the third spot on the squad. He did not return messages, but his Facebook page indicates that he attended the University of Maryland and has worked for the National Institutes of Health.
Tessa Berenson, a former Bethesda Magazine intern, is a junior at Yale University. Click here to read “Mind Games,” the July/August 2006 story about the Walter Johnson It’s Academic team.