“If you were being treated at Johns Hopkins Teaching Hospital, which U.S. state would you be visiting?”
“If you alphabetize the six official working languages recognized by the U.N., which is last?”
Questions like these are just so strange and out-of-the-box that it seems impossible to guess the answers correctly in just about 6 seconds, but that’s just the job for the quiz-whiz high school students in Scholastic Bowl. (And if you’re wondering – the answers are Maryland and Spanish).
Scholastic Bowl is a high school organization that is quirky, competitive, and thought-provoking. With lightning-fast reflexes, students on teams of four slam their hands onto buzzers to correctly answer questions on just about any subject. Math, history, science, literature, art – everything is fair game when it comes to a Scholastic Bowl match.
Scholastic Bowl matches are split into four rounds: Lightning, “Hotseat,” Categories, and “Double Jeopardy,” and each round has assigned game points for correctly answered questions. There are no penalties for wrong answers during any of the rounds, however, only a team captain can speak for the members in their group. There also are hefty bonus questions available after a team answers three questions correctly.
At the end of the four rounds, scores are tallied and a team is declared first, second or third, and score five, three or one match points respectively. From then on, the team that accumulates the most match points by the end of the season is declared the first place winner.
Practicing for Scholastic Bowl is a fun activity in its own right. Buzzers are set up for each team, and questions are pulled from a colorful Trivial Pursuit deck. Unlike in competitions, though, the kids have their own care-free fun: yelling out humorous answers, slamming their hands on the desks, and laughing equally with peers and advisers alike.
The Lockport High School team is ending its regular season with high hopes for finals – higher hopes than they’ve seen in a while.
“We’re looking back at a great season,” club adviser Joseph Spero reflected. “We’re at 1,980 total game points, with finals creeping up – I have never seen a group break 2,000.”
When asked for his thoughts on why the club was experiencing such a great season, Spero smiled. “It has nothing to do with me. It’s our amazing seniors, (and) the kids on the team who have such a thirst for knowledge and learning.”
Spero’s optimistic attitude is reflected by the members of the club. Sage Donovan, a senior who has been on the team for a year, described the exhilaration she feels when she’s in the middle of a match.
“It’s just a huge rush and has given me a lot of confidence,” she said. “It’s a sport of the mind.”
Co-captain Xavier Krull also spoke about his positive experiences in the club.
“For some kids (Scholastic Bowl is) their way of shining,” he said. “Not everyone’s an athlete.”
Furthermore, he explained, one of the most important things he has learned from the club is an appreciation for competition.
Xavier, a senior, has been a member of the Scholastic Bowl team since his freshman year. He had been recommended to join the club by several of his teachers, and is extremely happy that he persevered and achieved co-captain status.
Scott Anderson, the other senior co-captain, added, “Well, (Scholastic Bowl) keeps me off of the mean streets of Lockport,” giving the group of kids a moment to laugh at his usual joking tone. Scott, like many of the other team members, joined because of an older friend already involved with the club.
The club, all of the members said, is just as much about cooperating and communicating as it is about answering questions and pressing buttons.
“I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and friendships on this team. I have bonds with everyone,” said Jenna Le, a senior in her fourth year in the club. Jenna has been with the club since Spero took over for David Shambach (who is now the host of Scholastic Bowl, or as he put it, the ‘Quizmaster’) in 2013.
With 34 match points and 1,980 game points, Lockport ended the regular season above Medina High School’s 34/1,720, and is clawing up toward the Williamsville North High School group’s 36/1,960.
The Lockport team is looking forward to its next and final match next week. They’ll be playing with slightly altered rules, though. Unlike in usual competitions, with several teams participating at once, finals are fought with only two teams facing each other.
Scholastic Bowl matches are broadcast on WLVL-AM, so keep your dial tuned to 1340. You’re sure to be wholly entertained while learning an interesting thing or two.
Jessica Oates is a junior at Lockport High School.