In February, four exceptional students from the heart of Neptune Beach—Duncan U. Fletcher High School—conquered the competition to win the 18th annual Admiral Jonathan T. Howe Academic WorldQuest.

About the Team

Known as “Fletcher 1,” these students embarked on a monthslong journey that tested their academic prowess and thirst for knowledge as they prepared for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend and represent Northeast Florida in the national competition held in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.

The team consisted of Morgan Smith, Jonathan Pettross, Kyle Watson, and Nick Greek. Their teachers at Duncan U. Fletcher, Sarah Daniels and Nathaniel Shellhorn, run the Model UN and Great Decisions clubs, which draw numerous students to participate in Academic WorldQuest.

The national competition was held at the United States Institute of Peace in April and featured 10 rounds of 10 questions each—making up a 100-question trivia competition on topics ranging from global food insecurity to atrocity prevention. Jacqueline Wilson competed in the national competition in lieu of Morgan Smith due to other obligations.

Jacksonville's Academic WorldQuest winning team, Fletcher 1

Fletcher 1 on the National Mall

Jonathan Pettross, a rising senior, elaborated how the studying process involved “splitting up the duties between each of the members and acquainting ourselves with the overall study guide.” Even though each team member was an expert on one topic, each student studied the entire curriculum.

Filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment, the team turned their eyes to their own future. Wilson explained, “being in Washington, D.C. and the national competition really opened up my eyes to what was going on in the world . . . and how I could make a difference with my future career.”

The team concluded their trip by exploring various parts of the capital, including the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial, the Museum of Natural History, the National African American History Museum, the National Gallery of Arts, and the Air and Space Museum.

When asked to describe what it was like stepping into the capital for the first time, Nick Greek explained how “we always hear about the capital, the monuments, and the art galleries—but getting there and standing next to them is a very humbling experience.” He added, “It was a very life-changing experience.”

This year’s Academic WorldQuest was made possible by our generous team and food for thought sponsors, including our 2023 title sponsor, Doolittle Family Foundation, and tech sponsor PS27 Ventures.

Fletcher 1 was sponsored by Fiona Strathern and Thad Moseley. Nick Greek spoke about the impact of the team sponsors, and what it meant to the team: “Without them, our team would not have been able to go. It is thanks to them that we were able to compete at the national level, and we are incredibly grateful.”

About Academic WorldQuest

Academic WorldQuest is a team game testing competitors’ knowledge of international affairs, geography, history, and culture. The World Affairs Council of Jacksonville began its own program, the Admiral Jonathan T. Howe Academic WorldQuest in 2005, and features a trivia-style six-round, ten-question competition. With only thirty seconds to answer the question, the stakes are high as students across Northeast Florida compete for the grand prize.