Scholar Bowl team prepares to host tournament

Sophomore Ada Foley and junior Katie Gilker prepare for upcoming Scholar Bowl tournaments as Scholar Bowl Coach Julie Burchett asks them practice questions. Photo by Ethan Weihl

Webster Groves High School will host its first Scholar Bowl tournament on Jan. 26.

WGHS’ team will not compete but will run the operation by getting people get checked in, setting up buzzers, scorekeeping, reading and moderating questions.

The team continues to prepare for other tournaments in which it will compete. Over the span of a year, the team can play in up to 14 day-long tournaments on specific Saturdays.   

WGHS’ scholar bowl team has been around since 2010.

“We started before we even knew there was a MSHSAA (Missouri State High School Activities Association) category,” Julie Burchett, team sponsor, said.

“It’s been pretty fun. It’s more exciting than it sounds. I get to use all the useless knowledge that I have,” sophomore Matt Putnam, team member, said .

About the content included in Scholar Bowl, Burchett said, “It’s not really trivia. It’s knowledge about things, and the more specific knowledge you have about a wide variety of topics, including all the core subjects as well, the better.”

The questions asked to Scholar Bowl participants are labeled “Pyramidal Questions.” They’re about the size of a paragraph and start with an obscure clue that focuses on a tiny detail of the answer.  

“Unless you sit and memorize Wikipedia pages on thousands of topics, you probably won’t get it off the first clue,” Burchett said .

As the question is read, the details become progressively more general. The last clue is usually so obvious that most anyone participating should get it. Teams gain points by buzzing in earlier than their competitors. If they correctly answer, this grants them three bonus questions to rack up their score. However, if they miss the bonus questions, the opponents have a chance to answer.

“We are a real sport. You can get a varsity letter for being part of Scholar Bowl. It’s the most lit team, so you should join it,” sophomore Sophie Delay, team member, said.

About specialties, Burchett said, “A lot of our kids do have good general knowledge, but we do have some kids that specialize in certain things.”

Senior Stephanie Aitken is one of the team’s strongest literature specialists, sophomore Justin Barker specializes in science, and junior Ethan Weihl specializes in history and current events.

Burchett said, “Our team is awesome. Everyone answers questions, everyone participates, and it really is a team effort to win.”


Colin Shue – Graphics Editor

This is junior Colin Shue’s first year on the ECHO team. His sophomore year he wrote a few stories as a contributing writer. Today, he works as a graphics editor as well as creates and manages his own weekly blog.


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