Thursday December 20, 2012
Sixty-six teams from four states converged on South Burlington High School Friday, December 7 for the academic event of the holiday season, the South Burlington Scholar’s Bowl. In an event that resembled an indoor track meet packed into the hallways of South Burlington’s second floor, coach Eric Stone helped navigate the event while explaining the details of how the scholars bowl operates.
“Each team has four people playing at a time,” said Stone, “and each school can, and does, have more than one team competing in the tournament.” South Burlington had nine teams in action on Friday, delineated into teams A-I. It quickly became obvious that navigating the crowded hallways and keeping track of the Rebels’ thirty-six competing students was going to be no small task. However, the watchword of the day was, “Follow the team in suits!”
True to game-day fashion, all nine of South Burlington’s teams showed up to the competition in their formal best. “Every South Burlington student dresses in a suit on competition day. It’s a tradition founded by former captain of the team, Mike Chafetz, and it’s never died. We’ve become known as the team in suits,” said Stone.
Competitions are broken down into eight rounds, with the final three broken into “play-off” competition. Teams of four are each led by a captain, who commands the team’s answer-buzzer. The team captain provides answers for his or her team or may choose whether or not to “accept” an answer from teammates. Rounds are broken up by a ringing bell, while the teams try to get as many correct answers within the time limit as possible.
The first round featured South Burlington’s A-team, comprised of Phillip Holt, Michael Guo, Noah Bugby, and team captain Charlotte Mills. The questions covered a vast array of topics and categories, including everything from the composition of Japanese dynasties to the Denver Broncos’ draft-day acquisitions. As the A-team ran through questions that would have stumped most Jeopardy contestants, I was shocked to learn that the team and Coach Stone only practice together one day a week!
“I read a lot of books.” said Mills, when asked about strategies for preparing for the competition. Stone was quick to extend the spotlight to all nine teams under his tutelage. “We do have some extremely bright competitors.” said Stone. “What makes South Burlington unique is that we have a lot of competitors and they all do very well.”
Although Middlebury wound up winning Friday’s competition, with Mount Mansfield placing second, the South Burlington teams have many other opportunities to flex their cranial muscle. In particular, the team looks forward to the upcoming Vermont-NEA Scholars’ Bowl State Tournament, a two-day event in February and April. The winner of this tournament will have a chance to represent Vermont at the National Competition of their choice.
SOURCE: Peter Culkin, Correspondent