Brain battle displays prowess

With skill and speed, a team of Hoover High School students bested three other high schools to earn first place in Monday's Scholastic Bowl competition, a quiz show-style contest of academic prowess.

Five-member teams from Clark Magnet High School, Crescenta Valley High School, Glendale High and Hoover High were asked to identify composers of classical pieces of music and name the scientists responsible for particular discoveries in a contest that covered topics in science, social science, math, literature and the arts.

It's the 18th year the school district has held this competition, which was formed as a way to showcase the knowledge of local scholars, just as athletes are showcased in games, said Dianne Roybal, a retired Glendale teacher who helped organize this year's contest at Glendale High's auditorium.

“It was a way for academics to compete,” Roybal said.

Glendale High came out with an early lead in the competition by receiving the most points in the essay portion of the contest, which students completed a week ago. For this year's essay, students were asked to imagine that they were running for president, and take a firm stand on some of the national political issues being debated by the real candidates.

In the first portion of Monday's contest, students from each high school answered each question as a team. Each team had a few seconds to debate and deliberate before scrawling their answer on a piece of paper and holding it up for the judges to see.

The students were asked to state the kind of eye cells — the answer is rods — responsible for the first-rate night vision of turtles, and to name the person who instigated the plot against Julius Caesar — it's Cassius, not Brutus, as some teams learned the hard way.

In the buzzer round, students raced to hit a buzzer and then answered individually, not consulting with teammates.

Glendale and Hoover were neck-and-neck for much of the competition, but Hoover pulled ahead to win in the end. Crescenta Valley High came in third, and Clark Magnet High came in fourth.

The Hoover team's strategy was simple, they said before the contest began.

“Answer the question right,” explained David Carrega, a senior at Hoover.

Hoover High had held the first-place trophy for three years in a row before losing to Crescenta Valley High School last year.

Each contestant received a medal and a scholarship depending on how their team ranked.

But for the contestants, the fun was in the thrill of the competition.

“It's a chance to show off all the random tidbits you know,” said Kristofer Coffman, junior from Glendale High.

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