2021 Benjamin Cooper Awards: Now Accepting Nominations

The Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence is pleased to announce that it is accepting nominations for the 2021 Benjamin Cooper Academic Ambassador Awards. The awards, which recognize those who contribute to the “spirit and honor of quizbowl competition,” will be presented at the online 2021 PACE National Scholastic Championship.

The Benjamin Cooper Academic Ambassador Award will be given to a coach, advisor, administrator, tournament organizer, or other person who has made significant contributions to high school quizbowl. A second award, the Young Ambassador Award, will be given to someone affiliated with a college or high school program who, despite their young age, has already made valuable contributions to the high school academic competition community. Nominations will be accepted through April 1, 2021, and the winners will be announced in early May. For more information on the award and the nomination process, please see below.

The Benjamin Cooper Awards:

The Benjamin Cooper Academic Ambassador Award and the Young Ambassador Award recognize those who have made substantial contributions to the “spirit and honor of quizbowl competition.” Benjamin Cooper, for whom the award is named, was a model student at the Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC, who was well-liked among his colleagues and the faculty. He participated in many activities in school and in service to the community. Because of his enthusiasm and encouragement to promote academic competition among his team members, he was selected as the captain of the varsity team for the 1997-1998 school year. On August 12, 1997, Ben was tragically killed in an automobile accident while returning from his summer job.

The first Cooper Award was presented by PACE to Georgetown Day School team advisor Sue Ikenberry in honor of Ben at the 1998 NSC. Subsequent awards have been presented every year, and a complete list of winners is available on the PACE website. The Young Ambassador Award was first presented at the 2004 NSC.

Last year’s winners were Chris Johnson (Itawamba High School, Mississippi) and Ashish Kumbhardare (Penn State University, Pennsylvania).

How to Nominate:

Any member of the quizbowl community is eligible for the Cooper Award. Eligibility for the Young Ambassador Award is restricted to those who are currently students in high school or college. PACE welcomes re-nomination of those nominated in previous years who have continued to contribute to the quizbowl community. Organizations are eligible for nomination, as are small groups of individuals who have collaborated on their quizbowl work. The Cooper Awards are primarily intended to honor contributions to the high school quizbowl community.

To submit a nomination, please compose a statement of no more than 1,000 words detailing your nominee’s contributions to the quizbowl community. This statement should include a summary of positions held by the nominee as well as a specific explanation of why, in your opinion, they have contributed to the “spirit and honor of quizbowl competition.”

Please email your nomination statement to this year’s Cooper Award coordinator, Victor Prieto, at cooperawards@pace-nsc.org no later than April 1, 2021. To make sure they’re easily found, please put “Cooper Nomination” in the subject line of the email, and clearly specify in the text if you are nominating someone for the Young Ambassador Award. Victor Prieto will confirm receipt of your nomination within a few days of the time you submit it (if you haven’t heard back from us within a week, please send a follow-up). In your email, please include your contact information in case the PACE Cooper Award Committee wishes to contact you for additional information about the nominee. All nomination statements are strictly confidential and will be seen only by the PACE members involved in the selection process.

Announcement of Winners:

Members of the PACE Cooper Award Committee will deliberate throughout the month of April. The winners will be announced on the hsquizbowl.org message board and on the PACE website during the first week of May. The awards will be formally presented to the winners during the 2021 NSC weekend.

If you have any questions about this year’s Cooper Award or to submit a nomination, please contact Victor Prieto at cooperawards@pace-nsc.org.