Trivia whizzes: Hereford Middle Quiz Bowl team wins county championships

quizbowl2Think fast: before its destruction in 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Building stood in what city?

Not sure? The answer is Oklahoma City, but students at Hereford Middle School could have told you that.

In a Quiz Bowl match against Catonsville Middle, Hereford Middle’s team scored 870 points, earning the 13-member Monkton traveling squad the title of 2013-2014 county champions. While receiving such a distinction in itself is a cause for applause, what makes this achievement truly extraordinary is that Hereford Middle claimed this title last year, too.

What’s the secret behind Hereford Middle’s two consecutive years of success? “Hard work and practice,” says Andrew Scarbrough, Grade 8 student and Hereford Middle’s Quiz Bowl team captain.

While the first Quiz Bowl match occurs each year in November, Hereford Middle students start preparing early with after-school review sessions every Thursday. During the 30-minute sessions, a group of approximately 20 students from Grades 6, 7 and 8 scan the web for articles on current events. To supplement their searches, the students also consult a weekly magazine to which each competing middle school subscribes. The magazine contains both current and historical trivia questions, which may appear during the five head-to-head matches held monthly. At the end of their sessions, the Hereford Middle students test one another’s mastery of new and “perennial” questions by breaking into squads for intra-squad competitions. For extra practice, several of the Grade 8 students continue their review sessions during lunch four days a week.

“The knowledge, dedication and leadership of our students make Hereford Quiz Bowl successful,” says Russ Letra, social studies teacher and Quiz Bowl Club sponsor at Hereford Middle.

Leadership, indeed, is an essential element in Hereford Middle’s success. Letra commends the team for its “competitive spirit” but recognizes two members – Scarbrough and his assistant team captain, David Stickles – in particular for their contributions.

“[Scarbrough] develops strategy by analyzing questions from previous matches in search of patterns,” says Letra. “Stickles delivers leadership and organization to our practices.”

With high school awaiting at the end of August for the two Quiz Bowl veterans, Scarbrough and Stickles will no longer be eligible to compete in matches. However, the rising high school students use their experiences in Quiz Bowl to offer advice to others.

“Start Quiz Bowl in sixth grade and try to memorize the perennials to the first three words. Remember which month has which perennials, and you’ll do well,” says Scarbrough.

“The key to having success in life is to take even unimportant matters with the utmost confidence and seriousness,” says Stickles.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, James Clark, social studies teacher at Dumbarton Middle, organized Quiz Bowl matches for the 16 participating middle schools. Next year, Stephanie Bohn, Middle School Resource Teacher in the Office of Secondary Social Studies, will head the trivia program.

For more information on Quiz Bowl, visit http://www.bcps.org/offices/oss/student_programs.html#Quiz_Bowl.

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