Searching for answers

Published 11:00 pm Friday, October 26, 2012

Seen between the shoulders of scorer and timekeeper, respectively, Carri Bowyer and Valerie Barnes, Maya Brown, Justice Phillips, Jack Boswell and Sarah Bowyer, members of Lakeland High’s Scholastic Bowl team, search for answers during Wednesday’s home game against Grassfield High School.

Location: Lakeland High School library. Time: 5:10 p.m.

A traffic snarl on Interstate 64 has held up the bus from Grassfield High carrying their opponents, and members of the Cavaliers’ Scholastic Bowl team are jumpy.

But they were nervous to start with. It’s a home game, and the Chesapeake kids have a reputation for quick trigger-fingers and minds.

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The bus is spotted outside. Maya Brown, Justice Phillips, Jack Boswell and Sarah Bowyer, the first-round rotation from Lakeland’s 12-member team, take their seats, a buzzer before each of them tethered to a control box.

Volunteers Carri Bowyer, a school nurse, and parent Valerie Barnes take their seats facing the students, about 12 feet away.

Sauntering in with a confident air, John Benson, Will Pepe, Max Dinsmore and Cody Robertson sit at a separate table beside the Lakeland kids. Question-reader Latoya Floyd assumes her position, and the three-round battle of the minds begins.

One sample question, after a series of clues, reads, “For 10 points, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton are the only presidents targeted by what action that can lead to the removal of the president?
That’s an easy one. Questions cover a range of topics, many drawing on obscure — to laymen, at least — scientific principles and mythological tales, others plumbing the depths of popular culture and the world of literature.

Speaking from the sidelines of Wednesday’s contest, Lakeland coach Betty Twitty said she meets with her team thrice weekly. “I’m happy (that) for the first time we have one senior and quite a few 10th-graders,” she said.

Phillips, Lakeland’s suit-and-tie-clad team captain, said his family has always enjoyed watching “Jeopardy.”

“It’s always a great group of kids that enjoy having fun answering questions,” he said of Scholastic Bowl. “The big sports are football, soccer and field hockey, but it’s nice to have a sport where you don’t have to be the biggest person and you don’t have to be the most fit; you can just use your own talents.”

King’s Fork High also lost a home game Wednesday. Spanish teacher Katherine Byrnes is in her first year of coaching there, a job she shares with fellow Spanish teacher Maria Ojeda.

Students “enjoy the format of the matches, and the rounds and the buzzers,” she said.

“We look forward in coming years to seeing students learn more and contribute more to the matches.”

Brian Collins, who teaches Virginia and U.S. government and modern and world history, says he’s expanding his own knowledge by coaching Nansemond River High’s nine-member team.

“I get a lot out of it … because I’m pulling the higher-achieving kids, so it’s incumbent on me to find various subject matter experts,” he said.

“The other part is getting them to the level of confidence where they could, with conviction, answer questions when presented with them.”