Altamont's New Scholars Bowl Team Is Up and Running, Getting Ready for State JV Meet

A.J. Gallitz

A.J. Gallitz

Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Altamont's New Scholars Bowl Team Is Up and Running, Getting Ready for State JV Meet

Members of Altamont's new Scholar's Bowl team. From left to right, listed with grade level, Leah McGregor (9), Emily Isbell (10), Nandhini Gutti (10), A.J. Gallitz (10), Alex Curtis-Agarwal (10), Andrew French (9), and Virginia White (10). Photo by Kimber Williams.

Last year, when Alex Curtis-Agarwal came to Altamont from Highlands, he was surprised that there was no Scholars Bowl team. Although Altamont had teams in the past, it had not had one since before the Covid-19 pandemic, so Curtis-Agarwal and a few friends spent the end of last school year trying to find a faculty sponsor for a team. Every time they thought they had a sponsor, it fell through. This year, though, new teacher David Maddox stepped up.

Scholars Bowl, also called Quiz Bowl, is a competition in which teams of four players answer questions on subjects like literature, science, pop culture, and current events. Altamont's new team started meeting Tuesday mornings at 7:30 in Maddox's classroom, practicing with questions from an official Scholars Bowl list. The questions were super-outdated though, so the team hosted a bake sale to raise $130 to buy a list of newer questions.  

"Legally, you have to purchase the questions and answers to study them," says Maddox. "They have to stay in a binder. There's a secure website, and you have to get another secure PDF-opener to get them."

With the new questions, the team started practicing twice a week in advance of a February 2 junior varsity tournament at Wallace State and a February 9 tournament at Jefferson State, which the team didn't know was actually a varsity competition. A JV team can't have juniors or seniors. Since there were no seniors and only one junior on the Knights team, they decided to classify themselves as JV and take only the freshmen and sophomores to the tournaments.   

At that first JV meet, Altamont earned a three-way tie for first but ended up in second out of five in their pool based on total points. This second-place distinction earned them a wildcard spot in the upcoming JV state tournament at Wallace State on March 1.

The team was excited that they had experienced and succeeded at the state JV level.

"At this point, as we rebuild, it's all about experience and exposure. And the students had fun, too," says Maddox.

In their second meet, however -- which again, they didn’t realize was a varsity meet -- they won only one round. But the team is still hopeful for March 1, despite the fact they'll lose key contestants to the French and Latin convention competitions on the same day. They've upped their practicing to twice a week.  

"I would say that the second-place finish in our last JV tournament was a pleasant surprise," says team founder Curtis-Agarwal, adding, "Based on our past performance, I’m confident we’ll go far in the upcoming state tournament.”

Contributed Scholars Bowl photo.jpeg

The Altamont Scholars Bowl team at the February 2 JV competition at Wallace State Community College. Also shown at left are chaperones Joie Hoke and David Maddox. Contributed photo.

Editor's Note: Writer A.J. Gallitz is a Scholars Bowl team member.

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