We have television personalities in our midst! Both Suffield High School and Suffield Academy participate in multiple “quiz bowls” every year, but only one of them – “As Schools Match Wits” – is televised; it can be viewed on WGBY most Saturdays at 7 p.m. This particular quiz show serves schools in western Massachusetts and Connecticut, but other competitions are wider ranging.
Our two Suffield high schools manage their selection of five or six team members (four regulars and one or two back-ups) differently, but the result is the same. The effort requires a great deal of practice and preparation; expertise in one of the many categories of questions is important, of course, but equally important are a participant’s sharp memory, the ability to react quickly, and composure under the pressure of such a fast-moving and highly competitive game.
For each of the weekly televised versions of the game, two teams of four members try to outdo one another in rapid-fire responses to questions from a variety of categories. There is a fairly complicated set of rules and procedures for the accumulation of points; at the end of each season eight teams are chosen to participate in the playoffs, based on the points they have earned.
Andrew Yuan, from Suffield Academy, and Christina DeAngelis, with Kyle Kibby, from Suffield High School, are faculty sponsors for their respective teams. Their feelings about the value of the quiz bowl experience for students is similar: that value derives not so much from winning, but from the experience of working with a team, of learning the skill of quick response, of being sometimes gracious winners and sometimes gracious losers, and of seeing how a television program is assembled: the inside scoop. The “As Schools Match Wits” program is produced at Westfield State University, where the appropriate resources are available, a technical resource generously shared.
To the novice ear this kind of competition sounds highly stressful, but the faculty sponsors agree that it is not. They are not fixated on winning every competition, but on providing good learning experiences for their students. Although some schools come to the various quiz bowls with enormous intensity, both of our own groups are more balanced in their efforts. The sponsors report the high spirits of the bus rides and the dinners their respective teams enjoy after their sessions. They keep it all in perspective and help students do likewise.