May 1, 2010 in Washington Voices

CV shows its smarts

By The Spokesman-Review

Members of the Central Valley Knowledge Bowl teams pose for a photo on April 21. The varsity team finished in second place in the state competition. The varsity team members are, first row, from left, Zach Fitting, Cameron Allen and co-captain Janni Sun; second row, James Ganas, co-captain Adam Bernbaum and Mitchell Dumais.
(Full-size photo)

Question: What integers satisfy these two inequalities? 3p is equal to or less than p+6; 2p+4 is less than 3p+6

Answer: -1, 0, 1, 2, 3

If that question has you baffled, don’t be alarmed. It’s a hard one. It’s from the ESD 101 Regional Knowledge Bowl Semifinal, which was held in February and won by the Central Valley High School Knowledge Bowl team. The regional competition qualified CV to compete in the state competition in March.

The varsity team came in second place at the state competition – it went against the top 18 Division 4A schools in the state in the first five rounds before going up against Skyline High School from Vancouver.

The two teams were tied after 50 questions. The final point went to Skyline after it challenged a ruling.

The second-place trophy isn’t all the students have to be proud of – they ended their season with a record of 29-1. In the last four years, the team has a record of 104-4.

“It’s an academic sport,” said the team’s adviser, Eric Akins. He said Knowledge Bowl isn’t so much like trivia games like “Jeopardy” as it is a game that draws from the teammates’ knowledge of different subjects.

“It’s very academically driven,” he said. They are asked “essentially questions that reflect what they’ve been studying.”

CV’s varsity team is made up of co-captains Adam Bernbaum and Janni Sun, along with Zach Fitting, James Ganas, Cameron Allen and Mitchell Dumais. Four of these members have been on the team all four years of high school.

Akins said there are around 25 members on the team, but only six compete at the varsity level. He said that the trick is to buzz in as early as possible – and they do, sometimes before the moderator finishes reading it.

He said the kids have to pretty much guess what the rest of the question is going to be. They once correctly answered a question when all they heard of it was “What mood…”

“It seemed like a typical nerdy thing to do,” said Sun, a senior who describes herself as a “cool nerd,” on why she joined the team.

Fitting, another senior, said Knowledge Bowl gave him a place to use some of the “useless knowledge” he has stored in his head.

The students embrace their inner nerds – their team T-shirts proclaim, “All your point are belong to us,” a riff off a phrase from a video game that was poorly translated according to the students. The back of their shirts spell out the letters “CVKB” in binary code.

The season is over for the Knowledge Bowl students, but that isn’t stopping them from meeting after school. The older students are helping train the younger ones for next year, and the team has high expectations of winning.

“Each year we’ve managed to lose one,” said Akins of the team record.

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