On Saturday, May 5th, it was silver for both the Current Issues & Events and Literary Criticism teams, and gold for junior Brandon Ratliff and senior Anne-Marie Stanphill who came home as the new 2007 4A state champions in their two respective events.

For Ratliff, recently named as a National Merit Scholar finalist, his CI&E gold medal will be a nice complement in his personal trophy case to the bronze that he earned at State as a sophomore in 2006. But the gold did not come without a fight, right down to the last half-point. Ratliff and Mount Belvieu’s John Loranger (Barbers Hill High School) were tied after the grading of the objective portion of the test. On the tie-breaking essay, Ratliff earned nine out of a possible 10 points, while Loranger received nine.

Reflecting on the outcome, SHS UIL Coordinator Rick Sherrod observed, “I am not at all surprised. Brandon is perhaps the most gifted writer I have had as a student at any level, be it high school, community college, or university.”

Sherrod also lavished praise on CI&E Coach Lise Schwartzkopf, who has taken her team to State for the past three consecutive seasons.

“Her affable nature and genuine love for the kids motivates them to surmount any challenge. She has taken CI&E to a whole new level here at the high school,” Sherrod said.

When the dust settled after grading the CI&E materials, Schwartzkopf’s team of Ratliff, seniors Caleb Graves and Clint Doty, and freshman Samantha Parsons took the award stand for the second year in a row, each coming home with this year’s second place team medals. The foursome was narrowly edged out for the team gold by Mount Belvieu Barbers Hill High School. The latter’s victory was by the slender margin of 90 — 87.

Not to be outdone, Coach Annette Sherrod’s "Lit Critters" emerged from their contest some 3 hours later, likewise securing a second-place team finish. Leading the way was senior Anne-Marie Stanphill who posted a contest-high score of 94 to beat out Denton Ryan’s Brooke Elliot (who had a 92). Stanphill’s individual state championship is all the more commendable considering the fact that she did not join the Lit Crit team until this season. A late start did not stop her from making up the necessary ground by the time she got to Austin. In so doing, she helped her three teammates—Layne Cassidy, Aaron Schwartz, and Jeff Goodwin, all seniors—come within two points of securing the 4A team title as well.

This year’s Literary Criticism field was one of the strongest on record, including this years team champion perennial SHS foe, Friendswood High School. The top three teams—Friendswood, Stephenville, and Denton Ryan—were separated by a mere three points, ranging from 263 to 260. The Yellow Jacket team score of 261 was enough to secure the silver medal and was within two points of winning the team championship plaque.

All in all, it was one of SHS’s most productive visits ever to the State 4A competition. All eight of the Yellow Jackets who participated returned home with at least one medal. While coaches Schwartzkopf and Sherrod are taking a moment to savor the taste of victory with this year’s seniors, they are already thinking about 2008 and making plans to "re-load" for the coming UIL year. They, along with the 17 other SHS faculty members who coach the 23 different UIL events, are eager for next year and the chance to return to Austin in early May in search of even greater amounts of silver and gold.