Adventures in Scholastic Bowl


Paige Hosbein
The von Neumann form of this concept is given in terms of the trace of a density matrix times its log. Defined as the Boltzmann constant times natural log of the number of microstates, it is multiplied by temperature in the expression for Gibbs free energy. Symbolized by the letter S, its tendency to increase is dictated by the second law of thermodynamics. What is this quantity, a measure of a system’s disorder?”
Most students would—understandably—be overcome with confusion at reading this question. Rose Branson, one of the captains of Latin’s successful Scholastic Bowl team would promptly and confidently reply “entropy.” Rose’s extensive and obscure knowledge has helped lead the team to countless victories, including an impressive seventh place at Nationals out of a whopping seventy-six teams that qualified.
But, the team would not be complete with Rose alone. At Nationals, captain and senior Chetan Vadali’s and senior Zach Sessions’ history prowess, captain and senior Matt Hurley’s scientific expertise, and sophomore Tejas Vadali’s literature knowledge gave the varsity team the extra edge they needed to beat key rivals. Other key players include Kenny Pontikes, Julian Lee-Zacheis, Avery Ellis, and Sebastian Valenzuela.
Questions range over the entire spectrum of high school curricula in addition to current events, sports, and popular culture. There is a multitude of areas students specialize in, including science, history, literature, fine arts, mythology, and religion. Chetan said, “To optimize our success, everyone tends to focus on just one specialty so that the whole team covers all topics.” He added, “Studying for Scholastic Bowl varies. I gained much of my history knowledge from taking HUSH, but I also get deeper into specific events on my own. For example, I watched a bunch of videos on the First Crusade so I would be uber prepared. Also, we often utilize ‘Protobowl,’ a helpful database that holds a bunch of old questions.”
However, the lessons derived from Scholastic Bowl are definitely not all intellect-based, as Rose clarified. “Though being able to win points with niche knowledge about literature and science is fun, the best part of Scholastic bowl is the relationships I’ve built. I encountered some of my greatest mentors and closest friends through this team, not to mention the privilege of Mr. Legendre’s thoughtful and committed coaching. When I started going to Scholastic Bowl practices freshman year, I really didn’t know what to expect; academic trivia seemed just nerdy enough for me, so I gave it a chance. I never could have imagined the enormous impact it would have on my life. Over the three years worth of practices, tournaments, victories, losses, and ridiculously early Saturday mornings, Scholastic Bowl has turned from an activity into a community. It’s a place where passion for knowledge and inquiry can combine with one’s competitive streak, letting people whose interests usually don’t get a lot of limelight to celebrate their accomplishments.” She explained, “Because collaboration and spirit are so integral to having a strong quiz bowl team, the area of leadership I focus on most is encouraging everyone to focus on the big picture instead of obsessing over personal failings: it’s more important to move on from tough losses, keep our eyes on the next goal, and do what we need to do to get there. I count myself extremely lucky to be a part of and lead this group of wonderful weirdos. Scholastic Bowl has shaped my high school experience more than I could have imagined, and I encourage anyone who will still be here next year to try it out!”
Chetan reinforced the same themes, saying, “I didn’t get involved in Scholastic Bowl until sophomore year when one day I just showed up at a practice, and I loved it. I am so glad I went that day because Scholastic Bowl has allowed me to meet a number of like-minded people and has taught me critical leadership skills.”
One of the coaches, Mr. Cruz, said, “Nationals is always a good time. As a coach, it brings so many of the things that make coaching Scholastic Bowl so rewarding. It’s amazing to be in a place that celebrates knowing things. There’s no shaming of tryhards, no negative attention for being good at something. It’s also a reminder of why I coach this team at this school. So many of the things that make us who we are, as a community, come to the fore during these two days.  Teammates pick each other up, they treat their opponents with respect, and this team is always looking to improve and make friends in the national scholastic bowl community.”
So, on that note, be sure to congratulate the amazingly talented and hard-working Scholastic Bowlers in the hallway and perhaps even give it a try next year!