From Russia, with loveA senior high school student has recently created somewhat of a stir among a few of his fellow classmates — in a most positive manner, that is.
By: Vera Roy-Stoeberl, River Falls Journal
A senior high school student has recently created somewhat of a stir among a few of his fellow classmates — in a most positive manner, that is.
He is Elyor Bozorov, an exchange student from a country that was formerly part of the United Soviet Socialist Republics, and is now known as Uzbekistan.
Bozorov’s positive impact stemmed from a need to come up with some sort of service project, a required part of his student exchange involvement. At first, he wasn’t quite sure what to do.
“I thought about getting students to help clean up sidewalks,” said Bozorov. “But I thought that would be a waste of time.”
However, when an idea he thought would work hit him, he approached Principal Elaine Baumann with it. Baumann thought it was great, and gave Bozorov and his idea her whole-hearted support.
Bozorov would soon begin recruiting some of his classmates to join a new “Quiz Bowl” group — a competitive team of students who could take part in organized regional, state and, if successful, national contests that would test the students’ knowledge.
“We have something similar to it back in my country,” said Bozorov.
Watching those types of competitions in his homeland, and noticing the lack of similar ones at his “host” high school here in River Falls, is what inspired Bozorov to promote the idea.
Baumann gave her thoughts about the team.
“I was most impressed by the persistence of the students,” she began. “This was totally a grassroots student-initiated group, with the original idea that came from a foreign exchange student from Uzbekistan!
“(Elyor) convinced some friends to do it with him, and recruited Sue Popelka to be their advisor. They used questions they found on the Internet, and then came to me to get a book of questions from previous contests that were on sale for a very nominal amount. We got that for them, and the rest is history.”
Last month, five members of the River Falls High School Quiz Bowl made their first appearance at a regional contest. The competition was held at Armstrong High School in Plymouth, Minn. A photo of the group was published in the Journal two weeks ago.
The five, Ryan Elefson, Bozorov, Nick Davidson, Jayne Esch and Robbie Doyle, did amazingly well. According to math teacher Sue Popelka, the team’s advisor, “They won six out of seven matches in the preliminary round, falling to the Minnesota state champion. In the championship round they advanced to the semifinals, lost a very close match and eventually took home the fourth place trophy.”
Not too bad for their very first attempt. It qualified the team to compete at the state competition coming up in May in Appleton and held at Lawrence University.
“Nick Davidson received individual honors and a trophy by placing third out of 54 contestants,” added Popelka.
About a dozen students have joined the Quiz Bowl since the first of the year. All but three are seniors.
During an interview last week here’s what some had to say about the new group, when they were asked to contribute their thoughts. Present at the interview were: Esch, Michael Leitch, Elefson, Bozorov, Roland Pomfret, Davidson, Katie Yelken, Doyle and Emily Genco. Ethan Genco was unavailable.
“It’s more than just getting together. At first I thought it would be just a dull trivia thing — a big head fest with a bunch of nerds. But it’s not that at all. I really like the competition and we sure have our fair share of laughs.”
“One of our strategies is to have each of us specialize in a certain field — like have one person concentrate on science, and another on the arts, or pop culture. That way we can work off of each other’s strengths.”
“We have a lot of natural talent here.”
“We practice about once a week for a half-hour, but as the competition gets closer, we’ll practice more.”
“I am so amazed at how well we did.”
“This type of competition really keeps you on your toes.”
“I think this is a great, competitive way to learn from each other.”
“The school, Dr. Baumann and Mrs. Popelka have been very supportive. We really owe them a lot. They’ve given us time to practice, a space to get together and provided transportation to the meets.”
“I thought we would get annihilated, especially after we got copies of some of the suggested questions.”
“The Quiz Bowl isn’t new to the high school. We had something similar to it a few years ago, but it was discontinued because there was an interest issue.”
“Hudson (High School) has it and so do some other schools in the area.”
Popelka was asked what her advisory responsibilities have been with the newly-revived Quiz Bowl team.
“My responsibilities are to have them meet in my focus room once a week. I have also provided them with example questions when they first started meeting.
“After that, they pretty much took charge and found the materials they needed to practice and quiz each other. They met with Dr. Baumann, who helped them get other materials as well.
“I drove them to the meet in Plymouth, Minn., and watched them compete in seven preliminary rounds and three championship series rounds. All I can say about watching them compete is that I just shook my head in amazement at some of the questions they were able to answer.”
Popelka accepted her advising duties having been recommended by Baumann. Though she’s had no previous experience advising a team like the “Quiz Bowlers,” Popelka enjoys her role.
“This has been a fantastic group of students to work with,” Popelka began. “They have been very consistent about meeting every week and enjoy quizzing each other.
“They have a good time working together and were very excited about the idea of competing at their first meet. They work well together and appreciate that they all have their areas of expertise that contribute to the overall success of the group.”
Answer this question in three seconds:
“Myrtilus helped this man defeat King Oenomaus in a chariot race for the right to marry the king’s daughter, Hippodamia. Due to his father’s overwhelming desire to impress the Olympians, this man had to be resurrected and given an ivory prosthetic in place of the shoulder eaten by Demeter.
“For 10 points, name this son whom Tantalus fed to the gods, the namesake of the Greek peninsula of Peoponnesus.”
That is one of the sample questions presented in a packet given to schools that compete in the National Academic Quiz Tournaments, or the NAQT. According to its website, www.naqt.com,
“National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC, organizes the premier high school, community college, and college national quiz bowl championships in North America.
“NAQT was founded in 1996 by a group of former players. Those competitors — including several national champions — are now college professors, high school teachers, lawyers, engineers, software developers, physicians, and research scientists who make time to promote and improve the fast-paced question-and-answer game that was an important part of their lives.
“They are motivated by the chance to provide the next generation of students with more and better opportunities for competition than they themselves had.”
Some readers may remember a regular television program from the 1960s and ’70s called “The College Bowl.” The present day NAQT competitions are similar in set up.
The contest is played with a team of four students who attempt to answer a “toss up” question, provided by a moderator, before its opponent, another team of four from a different high school, can answer. Each of the eight students has a buzzer. The first person to buzz in has to answer the toss up within three seconds. Ten points are awarded for a correct answer.
The team that wins the toss up, then gets to answer three bonus questions on its own, with points awarded for those correct answers.
There are a total of 20 toss up questions, with three bonus questions for each correctly answered toss up, that make up a match. The team with the most points, after a possible total of 80 questions have been answered correctly, wins.
Here’s a couple more sample questions:
“These entities are the points of a projective space. Each step of Newton’s method involves constructing one whose single root is the next approximation. A pair of them comprise the degenerate hyperbola x squared minus y squared equals 0. They are the graphs of first-degree polynomials and have constant slope.
“For 10 points, name these geometric objects defined by two distinct points.”
“Bip Roberts’ 10th inning double broke this man’s 1995 perfect game attempt, after which Felipe Alou pulled this then-Expo from the game. When a brawl broke out in Game 3 of the 2003 American League Championship Series this three-time Cy Young Award-winner sent Yankees’ coach Don Zimmer to the ground.
“For 10 points, name this Dominican native, a current Met and longtime Red Sox pitcher.”
“Our goal is to win the national championship,” said Katie Yelken, a very enthusiastic teammate.
Should the local high school Quiz Bowl team do well enough at the state competition in Appleton to move on to the national one, the students will travel to Chicago. There the contest will be held during the weekend after Memorial Day.
For Bozorov, a national victory would be the ultimate achievement for the fledgling group of competitors he helped recruit. But even more importantly, he said, would be to hear about the continuation of the Quiz Bowl next school year.
“I won’t be here,” said Bozorov, to round up new members and be their “leader,” as some of his teammates referred to him. And all but three of the dozen or so current members will remain after all the senior-level teammates graduate this spring.
Popelka, however, thinks this year’s Quiz Bowlers have started something special.
“It is pretty unique that an exchange student has such an impact on a host high school,” said Popelka. “(And) I am confident that the excitement (Bozorov) generated with this club will carry over to the coming years, so that you will be hearing a lot more about the RFHS Quiz Bowl team,” she said.
For those persons who answered “Pelops,” “lines,” and “Pedro Martinez” to the sample questions, respectively, you were correct.