Combining competition with academics


Julie Gardner

Seniors Connor O’Brien, Jaxen and Jason Sellers and Atticus Baker study for a Knowledge Bowl competition. Knowledge Bowl practices during lunch in Mrs. Gardner’s room on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Morgan Flannery, Junior Reporter

The Knowledge Bowl team at Manitou Springs High School, coached by math teacher Julie Gardner, recently hosted a competition on Saturday, Dec. 4. Jason Sellers, a senior at MSHS, is one of three team captains for the Knowledge Bowl team, a group of students who compete in academic trivia competitions. Sellers has participated in Knowledge Bowl since the sixth grade.

Knowledge Bowl is a trivia team that competes in competitions with various schools. The trivia topics are spread across many different subjects, anything from geography to history, math and literature. The Knowledge Bowl team at MSHS has people with all different skill sets. Sellers likes being on the team because he enjoys learning about different facts and sharing them with people. 

“It’s a trivia competition. A group of super nerds get together and we’re asked random questions about all sorts of subjects,” Sellers said. 

The overall team is split into two teams. There is an A team consisting of key members, more experienced students, and a B team who has all the additional members. Accompanying Sellers as team captains are his brother, Jaxen Sellers (12) and Connor O’Brien (12). 

“One of my favorite things [about Knowledge Bowl] is the team dynamic that you get to build, and I’ve been doing it with a couple people in the program since sixth grade,” said O’Brien. A big part of being successful in competitions is learning to work together and build off of individual strengths. Each member of the team has certain topics and subjects that they specialize in, creating a multifaceted team. “It’s our job to just try to know it all,” said O’Brien. O’Brien focuses on mainly foreign languages, drama or music, where Atticus Baker (12) focuses on geography, language and math. 

“I like how people with all sorts of different skill sets and [knowledge] can come together and basically just demonstrate that knowledge with each other and in competitions as well,” said Baker. One of the main draws to joining Knowledge Bowl is the chance it gives students to share tidbits of information that might otherwise be obsolete. Any student who considers joining will have a unique strength to bring to the team. 

“The way we practice is with a bank of practice questions. It’s mostly to get better at thinking on your feet, buzzing quickly, that kind of thing,” Sellers said. The team practices for competitions at lunch on Wednesdays and Fridays. The questions are led by a team captain or the coach, which gives helpful preparation for timed questions during a competition.

“We have a special code for knowing the answers. If you hold up numbers one through five. That’s how confident you are that you know the answer,” Baker said. The competitions have a written round and two oral rounds, each consisting of 40 questions. They tend to be around three hours long. MSHS competes against much larger schools in the Colorado Springs region, including Pine Creek High School and Liberty High School. During the competition four team members are grouped together, and each correct question is worth one point. 

“[Knowledge Bowl is really stimulating in a couple of ways. It’s really nice to be able to increase your team building skills, and then to keep that mental stimulation going outside of school. Sometimes I just try to turn off my brain when I get home,” said O’Brien. A main piece students enjoy about Knowledge Bowl is a break from the monotony of school, much like sports. Knowledge Bowl is a way to combine competition with academics. “It’s close to that same adrenaline [of competitive sports] when you get a question right,” said O’Brien.

“If you are knowledgeable about a bunch of random stuff, you can join our club. You can join our club anyhow; but mainly if you just know a bunch of stuff,” said Baker. The club is a way for students to practice trivia and gain more knowledge. 

A spot on the A team can also mean receiving a letter and pin for competing in Knowledge Bowl. Sellers said, “We’re not just a bunch of stuck up nerds, we have fun.”