Teams of eighth grade students from eight local school districts began competing against each other in the 22nd Annual ACE (Academic Challenge Eighth) Competition on Monday.

Held in the Tamaqua Area School District auditorium, participating schools include Catasauqua, Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, Northern Lehigh, Northwestern Lehigh, Palmerton, Panther Valley, and host Tamaqua. Janet Kern is serving as moderator for the competition.

The ACE Competition is an academic challenge in which students answer questions on a wide range of subjects including history, geography, language arts, mathematics, and science.

Each match has three rounds. In the first round, questions alternate between the two teams. Students begin to use buzzers in the second round to answer toss-up and bonus questions. A lightning round completes the match with students buzzing in to get to as many questions as they can. There is no discussion among team members allowed in this final round.

Palmerton and Lehighton made the most progress on Monday in the double-elimination competition, winning both of their matches.

The Lehighton team defeated Northwestern Lehigh 47-20 in Round 1 and then went on to beat Tamaqua in Round 5 37-21. Before this defeat, Tamaqua had won in Round 2 against Catasauqua 22-11.

Palmerton has already proven itself as tough competition, earning a win against Jim Thorpe in Round 4 with a score of 42-13, and then against Panther Valley 53-23 in Round 6. Panther Valley had earned this second match after beating Northern Lehigh 22-5 in Round 3.

The second day of competition will be held Wednesday, March 2 at 8:30 a.m. in the Tamaqua Area School District auditorium.

The four teams without a win, Northwestern Lehigh, Catasauqua, Northern Lehigh, and Jim Thorpe, will be narrowed down to two teams in the loser's bracket, who will then go on to challenge Tamaqua and Panther Valley.

Palmerton and Lehighton will go against each other fighting for a spot in the finals. The team that fails to advance in this round will have another chance at the end of the loser's bracket.

The finals and championship are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 7.

The Catasauqua team is made up of members Samantha Diaz, Michael Gilmartin, Eddie Ledesma, Emily Ledesma, Andrew Rice, and Christopher Sobrinski. Their advisors are Judith Evans and Lisa Roth.

Jim Thorpe's advisors are Amy Burkey and Robert Lee. Team members include Lindsay Capper, Johnathan Condly, Samuel Gilkes, Renata Lawrence, Matt Miller, and Jacob Saxon.

Lehighton team members are Kelsey Andrews, Kirk Breiner, Kyle Collins, Brianna Karpowicz, Ellen Perkins, and Falyn Weiss. Susan McElvar serves as advisor.

Northern Lehigh's team is made up of members Makayla Gordon, Aaron Hofmann, Nathanial Rex, Floyd Snyder, Amber Thomas, and Nicolas Young. Their advisor is Jeremy Battista.

The Northwestern Lehigh team is advised by Heather Rice and includes members Nicole Generose, Daneen Haas, Brandon Herb, Kristen Post, Alissa Smith, and Jacob Wiersch.

Palmerton's team includes members Lauren Campbell, Isaac George, Eliza Good, Bruce Hettler, Richard Roselli, and Kaithlyn Stevens. Patti Jo Boyd serves as their advisor.

Panther Valley is represented by Amy Corby, Mike Lazar, Steven Reehl, Rian Shubeck, Michael Weng, and Abbey Whildin. Their advisor is Terence Bonner.

The host team Tamaqua is made up of members Jacob Gursky, David Kunkel, Nathan MacDonald, Harold Moll, Olivia Morrison, and Leah Pashley. Jennifer DiSante and Alisa Kemmerer serve as the team's advisors.