In the end, the winners from Elkin High School, who defeated Mount Airy in the championship match, didn’t come away with pockets full of money, but a huge trophy and the satisfaction of being the best among 10 teams participating.
While most people were enjoying a few extra winks or a second cup of coffee, students from a three-county area were hard at work for about two hours Saturday morning on the playhouse stage during the academic team competition. They fielded questions on history, sports, literature, current events, geography, movies, science, government and more as a nearly packed house of parents and teachers watched.
A tournament-style format with brackets was employed to whittle down the teams, which in addition to Mount Airy and Elkin high schools included Surry Central, East Surry, South Stokes, Starmount, Forbush and Surry and Yadkin counties’ Early College high schools. About 100 students and team sponsors were involved in the event sponsored by the Northwest Regional Library system.
One by one, teams were eliminated through preliminary competition in which they matched wits in a three-stage format, answering questions worth 10, 20 and 30 points during each round. The students were required to supply responses on their own to the 10-point questions, but were allowed to collaborate with team members on the more valuable questions.
Most onlookers agreed that the material would be challenging to virtually anyone, with the kids shining on some material and stumbling with others. After missing a question such as “What is the world’s largest island?” (Greenland), participants would redeem themselves by correctly knowing that Death Valley was the lowest point of dry land in the United States.
Examples of other questions included “Who invented the sewing machine?” (Elias Howe) and “How often is the World Cup held in soccer?” (every four years).
There were smatterings of applause from the onlookers during the mostly serious competition, which did draw chuckles at times, such as when one student responded to the question of “What does the AM in AM radio stand for”” and answered “talk radio.”
“It might seem that way,” replied a smiling Brack Llewellyn, longtime moderator of the local Quiz Bowl, who relayed the correct answer to the radio question: “amplitude modulation.” Llewellyn also loosened the often-tense competition with humorous remarks along the way.
After three rounds of preliminary events and some 200 questions, the field was narrowed to Mount Airy and Elkin for the right to wear the annual Quiz Bowl crown, with Elkin prevailing 125-65 in the final match. While holding the hard-won trophy high on the playhouse stage, Elkin Quiz Bowl standout Gabby Ford pointed out that this year will be the last go-round for that squad, which contains all seniors.
Elkin now advances to district competition, with the schedule for that event to be announced.
However, Mount Airy High’s participants seemed pleased with their second-place finish to such a veteran group.
Brandon Cochran — a member of the Bears’ final-round team along with Rachel Harris, Ryan Johnson and Wade Lewis — said one of the keys was the advance preparation by the school’s Quiz Bowl group that listed eight members in all.
“We try to have practice,” Cochran said, explaining that the students got together in the weeks leading up to Saturday’s event to quiz each other on material from various books.
Cochran, the son of Joe and Melissa Cochran, also has another strategy that he uses to prepare. “I like to watch ‘Jeopardy’ with my dad a lot,” he said of the long-running quiz program.
Llewellyn, the moderator, said he was encouraged by what he saw on display Saturday. “First of all, I’m pleased to see something that celebrates intellect in our young people,” he said. “We need more of this.”
“They start as freshmen,” Llewellyn added of Quiz Bowl participants, and return year after year. “You see them grow as individuals and as students.”
With today’s youth sometimes not getting the credit they deserve, Llewellyn said it is refreshing to see the teens take the competition so seriously and work hard to prepare. Referring to the notion that many of these youths will be community leaders some day, he said, “I usually come away from these (competitions) hopeful for the future.”
Contact Tom Joyce at email@example.com or at 719-1924.