Middle School Quiz Bowl Team Finishes Strong

William Maher, Staff Writer

Greenhill’s Middle School Quiz Bowl team competed in their virtual state tournament on Saturday, March 27, 2021.

At 7:30 a.m., the team met with their coaches and did practice questions. At 8:00 a.m., the tournament began. Students went from match to match through Zoom.

“Because it is on Zoom, it is really chill and low-key and casual,” said eight-grade Quiz Bowler Sydney Chien.

The Middle School Quiz Bowl team consists of only seventh- and eighth-graders. Fifth- and sixth-grade students compete in the Elementary division.

Despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, the Middle School Quiz Bowl team has been quite successful this year, and Greenhill’s Middle School A team, consisting of seventh-graders Maya Jagsi, Aaron Kuang, Kate Ponnambalam and Evans Senvalds, even made it to the semifinals in the state tournament.

In the first round of the playoffs of the state tournament, Greenhill’s A team beat T.H. Rogers A 385 to 230. In the second playoffs round, they were victorious again against Wisconsin Hills A, ending with a score of 415 to 200. In the semifinals, however, the team lost to Beckendorff A, with a score of 265 to 370.


Preparing for success

To practice for these virtual tournaments, Greenhill’s Middle School Quiz Bowl team maintains a certain organization. During online practice, the coach first reads off announcements, such as teams’ rankings in a previous tournament. Students hone their learning skills by first doing warm-up questions, and then they split into smaller groups based on either topics or skill level to practice. For each subject that will appear in questions at the tournaments, there is a group of students who specialize in that particular subject.

“In Quiz Bowl tournaments and practices, there are questions on topics such as literature, history, science, current events, geography and pop culture,” said eight-grader Neha Bachu.

The coaches for Middle School Quiz Bowl are Upper School history teacher James Herman, Sybil Ponnambalam, whose daughter Kate has been doing Quiz Bowl since fifth grade, and Middle School science teacher Tim Lohr.

From a young age, Herman has been interested in Quiz Bowl. When he was in elementary school, he wanted to do Quiz Bowl, but it was only available for middle school students. In middle school, he joined the team and fell in love with Quiz Bowl.

This is Herman’s first year at Greenhill. Herman was teaching at Parish and was a Quiz Bowl coach there.


Reflecting on the virtual format

According to Herman, the pandemic has not affected Quiz Bowl much.

“The big difference is the buzzer system, so in person, there is this elaborate buzzer system, kind of like what you see on Jeopardy, where you hold a device and push a button,” Herman said.

In addition, when teams are done with matches, they cannot spectate other matches to get better. Nonetheless, the virtual format of Quiz Bowl this year allowed more teams to compete with each other because they can do tournaments virtually. This allows Middle School Quiz Bowlers to compete with students around the state.

A love of learning

Regardless of tournament success, students say they enjoy Quiz Bowl because they love to learn and improve their knowledge.

“I like it because it’s fun, and it pushes you to be better, and in order to be better, you need to learn more,” said eighth-grade Quiz Bowler Andrew Cai.

Seventh-grader Remi Joseph says he appreciates the sense of support he gets from his teammates in Quiz Bowl. When he doesn’t do as well, his teammates still encourage him and tell him he did a good job.

Chien says she enjoys the sense of community in Quiz Bowl. She also likes the fact that the Quiz Bowl team is connected. Chien says that the team hangs out after school. She says they even have their own group chat on Discord.

“I enjoy Quiz Bowl because you learn a lot of new things and you get to work with a team and have fun,” said eight-grader Kaavya Sampath.


Far from over

As the school year comes to a close, Greenhill’s Middle School Quiz Bowl team is having its last formal Quiz Bowl meetings at school. Nonetheless, some students choose to continue Quiz Bowl over the summer and attend summer Quiz Bowl camps put on by the Texas Quiz Bowl Association.

“The people who run that are very good and very knowledgeable, so a lot of our students will do these camps where they learn how to study and more about how Quiz Bowl questions are written,” Herman said. “The kids who do that come out really strong.”