CHS Knowledge Bowl team heads to stateThink of it a little like “Jeopardy” without Alex Trebek.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Think of it a little like “Jeopardy” without Alex Trebek.
Minnesota’s High School Knowledge Bowl competition tests students on a broad-ranging field of knowledge in 15 different curriculum areas, and each April the brightest and best rise to state competition. This year a team from Cloquet High School (CHS) will be among them.
The team, consisting of three seniors and two juniors, recently placed among the top three teams in regional competition, earning the school’s first berth in state competition in recent memory – and only the second time ever.
“Sue Karp [former Gifted/Talented coordinator for Cloquet Schools] said she recalls that a team from Cloquet went to state about 25 years ago,” said team coach Mary Jacobson.
Jacobson said what makes this team extra special is the fact they appreciate and capitalize on each other’s strengths, and most of them have participated in Knowledge Bowl since they were in sixth grade.
“They all get along,” said Jacobson, “and each of them has individual strengths that come together to make a well-rounded team.”
The CHS team started out its year with an invitational open to all schools the first weekend in December, just prior to the start of their regular season in January. They then went on to compete in three regular meets in Mountain Iron as part of the Northeast Service Cooperative Region 3, as well as at tournaments in Little Falls and Hibbing.
Each team is comprised of four players and one alternate, and the competition begins with a written round comprised of 60 multiple-choice questions on a broad spectrum of subject matter. The teams are then ranked by their collective scores and go on to compete against two other teams in the first round of oral competition, which consists of 45 questions.
Team members sit around a table with a buzzer strip down the middle, and as the reader reads the question, anyone can buzz in at any point, but he or she must answer based only on the amount of information given at the time of the buzzer. There is no penalty for a missed answer, but the other two teams have the chance to buzz in on it and try for the correct answer.
“For those who have played it for years,” said Jacobson, “they can sometimes pick up clues that will lead them to buzz in early and win the draw. They just have to know a lot about everything.”
At the end of the round, the teams are then re-ranked according to points, which determines which two teams they will compete against in the next round. In the end, the top team at the end of five rounds of oral competition is the one to accumulate the most points.
Jacobson said 15 of the 37 schools that compete in the Northeast Service Cooperative go on to regional competition at Mountain Iron in early March, which is divided into big school and small school categories. At that level, she said, Cloquet competes at the big school level, but now as they move on to state, they will be part of the small school division.
“At state they go strictly by school population and then divide it right down the middle,” said Jacobson. “Cloquet is going to be the largest of the small schools, including many of the state’s private schools.”
The CHS team will depart for the state competition, to be held at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, on Thursday, April 12. They will be among the guests of honor at a banquet that night, followed by the written round of competition. The oral rounds will take place Friday, April 13, and Jacobson is optimistic about the CHS team’s chances.
“They’re awesome!” she said.