Whitney High attends USC history bowl competition

The Whitney High School History Bowl team competed at the 2020 University of Southern California regional History Bowl competition on March 1. The History Bowl is a nationwide competition for elementary, middle and high schoolers testing students about history — it has a Jeopardy-style, complete with a buzzer system and moderator.

There are different varieties of difficulty levels, called “sets,” where A set is tiered towards advanced competitors, B set is for intermediate and C set is for beginners. In order to split the competition between grade-levels, there are also junior varsity and varsity teams. The competition is further expanded into regional and national competitions. 

The competition began at 10 a.m. at Tapers Hall at USC. After signing in, along with 14 other high schools, the Whitney High School team competed in 3 consecutive rounds. The opposing teams were Santa Monica, Arcadia and Canyon Crest High school.

“I believe the most difficult competitor was Arcadia High, but I’m glad we versed them because we definitely learned a lot from their strategy,” Noah Surti, a member of the JSR team, said.

The Whitney High varsity team consisted of 4 members and 1 alternate: myself, Noah Surti, Leila Haidar, Lena Pattamalidok and Lordsen Quiambao. This team is unique, as it has a mix of sophomores and juniors, but no seniors, as many varsity teams do.

The Whitney team practiced after school every Friday, using past years’ History Bowl questions. The teammate who buzzes first and answers correctly then explains to the other students about the history leading to the answer.

Additional practice is done at home, using Protobowl, which is a website that replicates competitions by allowing users to type in answers to a question on the computer screen. Each Whitney competitor is assigned a time period of history to study — to ensure that at least one teammate is an expert on a certain era of history.

The Whitney High History Club plans general meetings open to the school, where we play Jeopardy games on a historical topic current to that month. For example, for the month of February, the Jeopardy game was based on Black History Month and important figures in African American history. This prepares the History Bowl competitors in a more relaxed setting. 

Although the team was unable to advance to playoffs, every member gained insight on the strategy of how to compete effectively.

For example, against a highly competitive team, such as the 2015 National Champions of Arcadia High, it is more beneficial to buzz in an answer earlier in the question, due to the opposing team’s high likelihood to answer correctly if the full question is read. Another strategy learned is that after the opposing team buzzes and answers incorrectly, since that team cannot buzz again for that question, your team should wait for the entire question to be read before buzzing, to listen to the full question. 

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