Quizbowl’s GSAC Takes the Stage

Reshini Premaratne, Staff Writer

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Members of Maggie Walker’s Quizbowl team, here with sponsor Ms. Hana Reed, prepare for upcoming competitions.

Alix Elizabeth
Members of Maggie Walker’s Quizbowl team, here with sponsor Ms. Hana Reed, prepare for upcoming competitions.

Undoubtedly, if you have walked across the third floor during lunch any day this year, you have noticed a curious gathering in the small room wedged in between the forum and Mr. Wilkes’ classroom. Some have walked past unperturbed, some have even dared to surreptitiously glance in, but, to the Quizbowl club’s discontent, unfortunately not nearly as many have actually entered the room – perhaps because it was previously unbeknownst or was a source of intimidation.

However, the club does much more than most students think. Maggie Walker’s Quizbowl club creates and writes its very own tournament, the Governor’s School Academic Competition (GSAC), which is not only one of the most renowned tournaments, but is also the longest-running high-school-written com-petition in all of the United States.

Connor Wood (’15), Tournament Director and Head Editor for GSAC, emphasizes the scrupulous work and long-term commitment necessary to conduct such a tournament, especially considering that Maggie Walker’s Quizbowl club is one of the very few teams in the nation that writes its own packet of 588 questions in 20 different subject areas for the tournament.

As Wood describes the packet, its “questions range from American Literature and World History to Chemistry and Mythology” and everything in between.

Completing this packet for the tournament is no easy task. In fact, Wood, like graduate of MLWGS Quizbowl before him, spent hours on end over the recent Thanksgiving break editing questions. While it takes a full year to finish, the results validate those efforts.

Ten other sites paying to use these prepared questions, from cities like San Diego and St. Louis, accrues about $2,000, and then another $1,000 is aggregated by the original GSAC home site. The money goes towards growing the club’s activities and providing more than adequate funding for the team’s trip to nationals each year.

Quizbowl club’s unique structure is unlike that of any other club at Maggie Walker due to the generous support and dedication of club sponsor, Ms. Hana Reed, and a welcome frequenter, Ms. Juanita Lasswell, who has followed the team for over a decade.

Aside from the club sponsor structure, the Quizbowl club organization is rather flexible, with no president or any other leadership positions. The lenient arrangement allows the club members to meet every day during lunch but does not require such attendance.

As Wood, a member since the very first practice of his freshman year, says, Quizbowl is “a club that’s devoted to the encouragement of really deep learning, and enjoying what you learn.” Weekly meetings are also held on Fridays afterschool, during which members practice the Quizbowl format and trial questions.

Because of the members’ diligent work, Maggie Walker is known to have one of the best Quizbowl teams in the nation, winning two national tournaments in different circuits in 2007 and consistently placing top eight at any national competition.

The competition season is in full swing during the later months of winter, namely February and March, with tournaments almost every, if not every, Saturday. Quizbowl club members prepare year-round for these tournaments through practice questions, study techniques, and peer learning; thus, they are well prepared and never disappoint.

Next time you catch a glimpse of the Quizbowl team interacting freely and learning contentedly during lunch, take Wood’s advice and just “try it.”

Many fear that they do not know enough to fit in the echelons of the club or that they wouldn’t enjoy the time spent learning a wide variety of facts, but that is simply not true. Wood says many members admit to knowing very little when joining the team, but learning so much in such a short period after doing so.

Reflecting on his time on the Quizbowl team, Wood assures that they love what they do and garner some of their closest friends from the club. So instead of just walking past that room on the third floor during lunch, open the door and await an immersion into trivia from worlds past, present, and unimaginable.

 

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