If you’ve ever watched the long-running local television program “It’s Academic”, a quiz show pitting teams of top students from the Washington metro area’s best high schools in scholarly competition, then you may have a vague understanding of what a Virginia High School League Scholastic Bowl is like. However, there is one major difference; Scholastic Bowl questions are way harder!
Twenty four Virginia high schools sent their best and brightest students to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg on Saturday to participate in the thirteenth annual Scholastic Bowl competition. This year’s state-wide championship saw a Clarke County High School team for the first time.
“It’s really wonderful to be with a group of kids who think that it’s fun and exciting to be smart” said team coach Laurie Barbagallo. Together, Barbagallo, Clarke County High School mathematics department chair and Thom Potts, French instructor and IB coordinator, have led this year’s team to 8th overall in Virginia. “They’ve really done well this year” said Potts. “I’m very proud of them.”
Unlike television game shows where questions are short and succinct, Scholastic Bowl features compound questions that can be challenging just to recite, much less answer. Topics cover all aspects of high school curriculums including science, mathematics, history, literature, music and current events. While Scholastic Bowl’s code of ethics admonishes its participants not to share the questions used during tournaments, one series of question answers included Mary Poppins, Rembrandt’s Night Watch, Vilfredo Pareto, luminiferous ether, Stroop effect, and the square root of 133 / 13.
“These kids are very talented and have a wide range of interests. Most are also involved in sports, forensic debate and music” said Coach Barbagallo. “They’re very well rounded.” Barbagallo’s sentiment was echoed by Earl Granger, William and Mary Associate Provost for Enrollment. Addressing the several hundred hopeful Scholastic Bowl participants prior to the start of the tournament Granger said ”I congratulate you for making it to this point. The fact you are here says volumes about your commitment, your keen level of intellect and your determination.”
Clarke’s Scholastic Bowl team participants included Adam Campbell, Kaitlyn Dykes, Katie Lettie, Connor Mettenburg, Brian Murphy, Lizzie Newhart and Thomas Newhart. Due to recent weather-induced scheduling conflicts many other team members were unable to attend the championship tournament including Nick Andrae, William Bigelow, Ben Draucker, Daniel Borger, Michaela Rohde, Frederick Twigg, Nathan Veilleux and Nora Warren.
Even with more than half of its team absent Clarke still gave its opponents a strong fight while losing its first round to Region C Champion Radford High School by just one answer, 180 to 170 and then losing its second round of the double-elimination tournament to Region A Runner-up Mathews High School scoring 155 to 190.
And just in case you were wondering, according to Wikipedia the Stroop effect is a psychological demonstration of the reaction time of a task. When the name of a color (e.g., “blue,” “green,” or “red”) is printed in a color not denoted by the name (e.g., the word “red” printed in blue ink instead of red ink), naming the color of the word takes longer and is more prone to errors than when the color of the ink matches the name of the color. Vilfredo Pareto? He made several important contributions to economics, particularly in the study of income distribution and in the analysis of individuals’ choices.
Who would have guessed?