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Irvington High School
Irvington NY
Coaches Lawrence Fata
Holly Koester
Michèle Cella (hosts tournaments)
National Championships 1995 Texaco Star Academic Challenge
National Appearances 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2011
Program Status Active
School Size 554
NAQT Page link

Irvington High School, the 1995 Texaco Star Academic Challenge winner, is located in the suburb of Irvington, NY, in Westchester County just north of New York City. The team participates in local WACKO and MACC league competitions, as well as other tournaments, including the National History Bowl and The Challenge.


Irvington High School's early years in Academic Challenge were always as an underdog, one of the smallest schools (300 students) in WACKO competition, so it was a surprise that tiny Irvington would make a run in the 1992 Texaco Star Academic Challenge, ultimately losing to Rye High School, earning the $12,500 second prize, split equally among its four starting players and two alternates. When the team was founded in ~1990, it was coached by Latin teacher Michèle Cella, who would always make sure that, in televised appearances, each team member mentioned Latin in some form in their player introductions. Like most schools in Westchester, Irvington fielded both an "A" team and a "B" team, the equivalent of a JV and Varsity, in most competitions.

In 1994, Irvington would finally win its first regional tournament, but, because of various absences of its team members, Irvington would not be able to field that same winning foursome until the Texaco Star Academic Challenge in March 1995. Irvington High School still had only 300 students and was considered a large underdog to the much bigger White Plains High School and others. After breezing through the first four matches of the tournament easily, Irvington faced its first big test in Ridgefield High School (CT), ultimately winning on the final question when Irvington's leading scorer, "Super Frosh" Joseph Adelman, '98, answered a 15-point question as time expired. Irvington outclassed Ridgefield 295-290 in one of the most exciting moments in Academic Challenge history ( After a 370-270 rout over New Rochelle High School, another favorite, Irvington squared off with Saunders Technical High School from Yonkers, NY.

In that final on April 1st, 1995, David Brazil and Keith Berman, both '96, scored 105 of the team's 120 points in the final quarter as Irvington overcame a late 30-point deficit, running away with a 340-280 victory and the $25,000 scholarship first prize. In what was a rare, balanced team effort throughout the televised rounds, no Irvington player ever broke 100 individual points in a match, with each of the four teammates scoring at least 20% of the team's points, a testament to the steadying influence of captain Emily Gold, '95. That final can be watched at

From that point forward, the Academic Challenge team was overrun with aspiring members crowding into Michèle Cella's classroom for lunchtime and afterschool practices, something that became a source of interest for articles in the school newspaper. The leadership became generational -- after David Brazil, Keith Berman and Joseph Adelman would all go on to captain the team, so would Keith's brother Jeff and Joseph's brother Michael, both of whom can be seen in the footage of the 1995 Texaco Star Academic Challenge. During this period of time, Irvington would qualify for four national tournaments in a row, 1995 - 1998.

Unfortunately, 1995 was the last year of the Texaco Star Academic Challenge, but subsequent teams would compete at the National Academic Championship (Irvington would make the top 16 in 1995), and win the local Omar Q Beckins tournament multiple times. Irvington's team played almost exclusively on Questions Unlimited style questions until 2010, when the team placed second overall at the Tri-State History Bowl, the pilot for the National History Bee and Bowl. Ever since, the team has participated in many pyramidal tournaments, including the HHHW Invitational, the National History Bee and Bowl, and the Long Island Fall Tournament. Other team accomplishments include 13th at the 2003 NAC, 14th place at the 1995 NAC and 2005 NAC, 20th at the 2011 NAC, 24th at the 2006 NAC, 28th at the 1998 NAC and 2004 NAC, and both 13th and 16th place at the inaugural National History Bowl.


Irvington High School hosts four tournaments each year for the MACC tournament league, which are hosted on Saturdays using Questions Unlimited questions, consisting of three rounds of preliminary play in both Varsity and JV divisions, after which the top four teams in each division participate in single elimination playoffs.