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Compete off the field 

At Porter-Gaud, we understand that each student is unique in their gifts, interests, and abilities. We offer a wide variety of academic competitions that capture their interests and challenge them to develop their talents. Each team builds community among its members by stressing the importance of collaboration while also sharpening students’ minds through stimulating, challenging tasks that enhance what they are learning in the classroom. Throughout the school’s history, Porter-Gaud Middle School and Upper School students have achieved high levels of success in earning regional and state championships.

Quiz Bowl

Quiz Bowl was (re)founded spring 2017, the sesquicentennial year of Porter-Gaud School. SCISA Regional Champions 2018 and 2019, two-time qualifier for the Small School Nationals, the competitive Academic Team continues to build upon its precocious start. The team hosts the Porter-Gaud Invitational Tournament, a National Academic Quiz Tournament qualifier, in the spring, one of approximately twelve tournaments attended during the academic year.

Goals of Quiz Bowl experience:

  • To provide a forum for intellectual stimulation and fellowship for all interested Porter-Gaud Upper School students 
  • To establish a competitive traveling team to compete in South Carolina and beyond. An outlet for academic excellence, Quiz Bowl should foster continued intellectual growth beyond the classroom, and the Academic Team should project our brightest onto the greater academic community.


Middle and Upper School math teams compete against other independent and public schools across Charleston and South Carolina. Each meet is broken down into three categories: geometry, algebra, and advanced math. Porter-Gaud is consistently on the leaderboard. Other competitions include national MATHCOUNTS competition.

The Porter-Gaud Middle School Math Team won the 2019 Charleston Chapter MATHCOUNTS Competition. Three rounds of intense competition provided the format for the contest, which included a Sprint Round (30 questions, 40 minutes, no calculator), a Target Round (8 questions, 24 minutes, calculator), and a Team Round (10 questions, 20 minutes, calculator). 



Porter-Gaud students have the opportunity to be a part of Youth in Government (YIG) and Model UN delegations in both Middle and Upper School. 

Youth in Government delegations help to create the next generation of good citizens by demystifying governmental systems so our students will know how to affect change in their communities. Students participate in the Upper School and Middle School Model Legislatures held in Columbia, SC each year. 

Model UN is a simulation of UN organizations such as the UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, UNICEF, and others. Its participants take the roles of ambassadors from various countries and debate current issues.  Conferences occur throughout the year across the Southeast. 



Middle School students compete in spelling bee tournaments with public and private schools across South Carolina and the Southeast. In 2019, Rivers Clair '25 was named the 2019 6th Grade South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) State Spelling Bee Champion.  She bested 15 other students at Wiliamsburg Academy in Kingstree, SC, to claim the title. Rivers spelled all of the following words correctly: fickle, brackish, sputnik, altar, airy, gymnasium, analogy, aul, koan, agog, sitzmark, carcinogen, and chromosome. At the SCISA Spelling Bee this year, Porter-Gaud captured 2nd place in the overall team competition.  


Academic Quiz Bowl Season Underway

They departed in darkness and arrived at night. These bookends served as parentheses to the Academic Team’s first tournament of the year. Between them, Bus #2 transported thirteen students— nine of whom were first time players for this team— through the blooming cotton fields of Darlington to the Governor’s School for Math and Science in Hartsville. Our students arrived at one of our state’s most selective schools and felt the ‘flex’ of a meticulous and impressive campus populated by the Juniors and Seniors who board there. The Carlanna Hendrick Academic Tournament (CHAT) features many of the state’s top Quiz Bowl teams. CHAT was a bit historic for Porter-Gaud in that we had never before attended this tournament nor fielded a JV Team. The day would prove memorable.

Mrs. Downing and Mr. Greenwell, focusing on experience and team chemistry in the fall (as usual), divided our strengths into two varsity teams. Team A, composed of Senior Victoria Johnson (C) and Juniors Luke Flynn, Daniel Newlands, and new arrival Owen Seldon, would complete morning pool play with a 4/5 victory ratio… and yet, unbelievably, miss the championship round based on accrued points (evidence of the extremely high quality of the field). Team B was comprised of Seniors Ballard Morton and Courtenay White (C) with two new Sophomores: Sarah Allen and DuBose Egleston; the ‘Killer Bs’ would also qualify for the competition bracket with a strong overall point count. Surprisingly— but not really surprisingly— our JV Team also qualified for the second afternoon bracket (Porter-Gaud fielded three of six teams in the competitive middle bracket). Unsurprisingly, some of the closest matches of the afternoon were Civil Wars that affirmed— narrowly— our A, B, and C/JV rankings. 

The eventual winner of the championship bracket, Thomas Jefferson Latin A, would also secure the best Small School of the selective sixteen participants (P-G was runner-up). However, our decision to take three full teams would appear to have been justified. Our A Team proved of Championship Round quality, our B Team confirmed that they are hardly ‘second’ and reminded everyone that team lines are very much fluid, and our C/JV team not only managed to displace several other strong schools’ B teams from the competition round in the afternoon, they would earn Top JV team honors (JV = Freshmen/Sophomore only). While our Academic Team has enjoyed a precocious, if short, history of collecting plaques at SCISA, the Top JV Team trophy is our first ‘hardware’ in an open tournament. The future looks bright thanks to a commendable first effort from Sophomore Sophie Levenson and Freshmen David Axon, Camille Greenwell, Ethan Lehrman, and Daniel Nirenblatt.

We first crossed Lake Marion with the sun rising on our right and returned— much delayed but well-fulfilled— with the sunset also on our right. The bus advertises who we are in foot-high letters as the Academic Team travels South Carolina. As much as accomplishment and experience matter for Quiz Bowl, we are all the more proud of these students who serve as ambassadors for our school, affirming our academic renown while establishing a reputation for polite good-sportsmanship. They are worth the drive.

Our Academic Team is populated by the available students with the highest number of cumulative practice/tournament points; as our competitiveness grows, specialization will become an important factor. For now, come out to practice Thursday after school to pad your own numbers in your quest for a spot. SCISA Regionals is sneaking up on us: 3 October.

Posted by Meagan Downing (aka "The Physics Maven" aka "Quiz Mom") and Christopher Greenwell (aka "Her Jester")

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