Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington and Johnson County Middle School were the big winners in the 2012 Governor's Cup academic competition, which wrapped up Monday in Lexington.
Dunbar won the high school division overall, and Johnson County, in Paintsville, topped the middle-grades division.
More than 2,500 middle school and high school students from across Kentucky took part in the academic competition, which began Saturday and ran through Monday afternoon at The Lexington Center. It included contests in quick recall; individual subjects including science, math and written composition; and a category called future problem solving, in which teams are presented with a problem and must come up with creative solutions.
The event was in Louisville for many years before moving to Lexington.
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Competition was close, and tensions ran high all three days.
Consider, for example, the middle grades quick-recall finals, which matched Russell Middle in Greenup County against Meyzeek Middle in Louisville. Meyzeek and Russell are perennial top contenders in quick recall, and they proved it again Monday.
For the uninitiated, the four-member teams in this competition must buzz in and answer, within seconds, questions read by a moderator. It could be compared to Jeopardy played by teams.
On Monday, the students from Meyzeek and Russell blazed through a bewildering series of seemingly incomprehensible questions:
■ What's the largest three-digit prime number? (If you've forgotten, it's 997.)
■ What painting technique was developed by 19th-century French artists Georges Seurat and Paul Signac? (Pointillism.)
■ If a circle is inscribed in a rhombus, what would be the most specific name of the resulting figure if the intersection points of the circle and the rhombus were connected with line segments? (Rectangle.)
Again and again, the teams came up with answers to obscure questions while adult onlookers were trying to understand the meaning of the question.
Often, they had the answer before moderator Gene Toth could even finish asking the question.
"Both of these teams are really good," Toth said.
The competition was nip and tuck early on, until the Meyzeek team surged ahead, building a 10-point lead early in the second half. Russell fought back, but Meyzeek eventually prevailed 37-27, repeating its state quick-recall championship of last year.