Q: How long has Quiz Bowl been going at Marin Academy?

Quiz Bowl has been happening at Marin Academy for 26 years under the expert direction of John Petrovsky and Howard Rachelson. Every year dozens of students compete with each other in teams of two or three in the following subjects: Current Events; Math & Science; Geography & History; Literature & the Arts; General Knowledge; Sports; and Music.brain

Originally, both John and Howard worked at another high school, and led the quizbowl there. Eventually, MA was lucky to have John join our community and with him came MA’s first Quiz Bowl team (John and Howard even went head to head twice with their respective teams!) A few years later, in 2008, Howard came to MA as well and began his QuizBowl partnership with John once more.

John and Howard at Activity Fair.
John and Howard at Activity Fair.

For those curious about how Quiz Bowl works (and perhaps want to test their mettle), here’s the sitch: A preliminary round will be announced, and typically as many as 50 students participate–and from that group, 18 students will qualify for the next round. What’s really cool is that despite being a truly competitive event, it’s really fun as you go! Howard and John spend hours and hours (no kidding) crafting questions that make you go, “Whoa! That. Is. Interesting.” (Plus, this year, there will be new improved buzzers! Buzzers are always fun!)

In education there is a lot of talk about “the age of wikipedia” and student knowledge. John and Howard, in a conversation with me, related that they have not seen a drop in students’ knowledge despite easier access to facts and data available online. Howard explained: “Quiz Bowl is about curiosity. Those students with a lot of curiosity have more ways to garner information.” John added that he suspects Quiz Bowl success sometimes is related to “families that engage in this sort of activity at home–who talk about the world over dinner or play games as a family.” And both agreed that those people who read a lot tend to do well.

John related that one of his favorite moments was when he saw MA Quiz-Bowler Jessica Dell’era (Class of  ‘o2) competing on Jeopardy! And she made quite a good showing, which you can see here.

Quiz Bowl occurs twice a year: once during the Quiz Bowl Assembly and again after school in a MA Quiz Bowl. Prizes range from gift certificates at local bookstores, certificates of merit, and even t-shirts.

And while students may love the friendly competition, challenging questions, and sometimes quite surprising answers, John and Howard love it for its blend of education, intellectual rigor, and fun. Both agreed that it is one of the few events where students who choose not to engage in athletics but still love competition have an opportunity to shine. And, if you’re thinking about studying for this mental arena, perhaps you may consider asking Howard about his book, Trivia Cafe–which has sold more than 3,000 copies!

The next quiz bowl will be held January 23rd.


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