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Liberty Scholars Bowl ranks nationally at championship

MADISON – The Scholars Bowl Team from Liberty Middle School claimed fourth place at the Middle School National Championship Tournament. They reached the highest score that any middle or high school team has ever placed at nationals.

Team members Yuti Das, Austen Wyche, Joshua Wang and Ethan Xu, all eighth-graders, entered the championship held at Chicago’s Hyatt Regency on May 10-13.

Their sponsor, Jane L. Haithcock, started mentoring Scholars Bowl during her first year of teaching in 2008. “I had some knowledge and experience with Scholars Bowl in high school, and I love ‘Jeopardy!'” she said. Haithcock, a National Board Certified Teacher, teaches eighth-grade language arts.

Similar to the “Jeopardy!” game show, Scholars Bowl rounds test students’ knowledge on diverse subjects from sports and pop culture to classic literature and biology. These fast-paced tournaments allow students to buzz in before the moderator finishes reading questions.

If a contestant buzzes early, the team receives a five-point bonus. If the contestant is early and wrong, the team loses five points.

“Individual students buzz in for a tossup. Then, the team has a series of thee bonus questions they can conference together and answer,” Haithcock said.

“The kids have put in a ton of work preparing for this season. They were on the team last year, have taken the class almost two years, went to summer camps and continue to study and play every day,” she said.

An example of an easy question is “Name this 2018 co-op sandbox survival game developed by People Can Fly. The game includes lootboxes shaped like llama pinatas.” The answer is Fortnite.

An example of a more difficult question is, “This president’s first attorney general, Griffin Bell, was instrumental in securing the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This president conducted secret negotiations that resulted in Menachem Begin signing a peace treaty with Anwar Sadat.”

“This is a harder question for 11- to 14-year-olds because Jimmy Carter was president a long time ago,” Haithcock said.

A Liberty student can qualify for Scholars Bowl by enrolling in the class. “Then, it’s a points system determined during the class practices and tournament plays,” she said.

“We had fun at nationals and represented Alabama well,” Haithcock said. “Plus, it was the last tournament this group and I had together before they left for high school.”

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