Scholastic Bowl builds community, looks to future with young team

On Mondays during Fresh and after school on Thursdays, the students of the DePaul College Prep Scholastic bowl team practice for their competitive season.

Scholastic Bowl is a quiz game with teams of five. In each round there are twenty “Jeopardy” style questions. Each team member holds a buzzer and the first person on either side answers the question. If the person gets it, their team gets control of three related questions called bonuses. If a person on the team answers incorrectly, their opponents have a chance to buzz in. 

Harper Jordan, a freshman on the varsity team, talks about the big range of questions participants get. 

They’re [questions] just against all different types of topics like stuff you’d find learning from school and then there’s pop culture and things you probably wouldn’t find in textbooks.” 

The variety of questions allows for students with different interests to participate. People who like math, science, English, literature, history, geography, opera, art, pop culture, or sports, all are able to answer questions. 

Jordan says that this allows for the whole team to help out especially at tournaments when different question sets might focus more on different topics.

“Tournaments have a pretty even spread of different topics so it’s good for us to help each other with our different strengths and weaknesses.”

Mr. Petersen, the Dean of Students at DePaul College Prep, is the Scholastic Bowl coach for both Junior Varsity and Varsity. He explains how the DePaul Prep team is still young with room for growth in the coming years. 

This season we have a lot of young talent. We’re a young team in general. We have no seniors. We have three juniors. So we’re a pretty young team. And I think we’re just still developing some of the younger team talent. When everyone is there and ready to go, meaning they’re not at other competitions or what not, we’re definitely competitive.”

So far this year the team has had two big victories. The Junior Varsity team received a trophy for having an undefeated afternoon at the Homewood-Flossmoor Riley Kickoff tournament. Jordan made the All-Tournament Team at the first competition of the season for new victories securing an individual medal.

When it comes to the team’s tournaments, they take place all day on Saturday. Junior Sophie Buol, the co-captain of the varsity team, explains how competitions work and how they typically last all day.

“Competitions are really fun. The only downside is having to get to school early on a Saturday morning. However, as soon as you get on the bus everyone is really chatty and talking about the strangest topics…One fun thing we do each competition is make a ‘fun goal’ and a scholastic bowl-related goal.” 

For freshman Ben Emerson on the Junior Varsity team, tournaments are his favorite part. 

Tournaments are my favorite parts because we have fun and are able to learn new things about each other.” 

The team has a great bond and spends the bus ride catching up on each other’s personal lives and sharing fun anecdotes. Oftentimes a member of the team finds themself in the “hot seat” and center of the conversation. Zoe Pileggi, a sophomore on the varsity team, especially loves the bond the team has formed. 

“I joined because I wanted to be a part of a fun and exciting academic team. My favorite part is absolutely the people; meeting my teammates has been awesome.” 

To further cement the team members’ friendships, they do a variety of activities over the year. This year they have celebrated team members’ birthdays with cupcakes and cards. They also held a Christmas white elephant party complete with treats and Elf Trivia. 

Petersen also thinks the team has fun together even when they do not win.

We may not win and we don’t win all the time but I think the kids have fun and I have fun because of that”.

This is a core truth in the team. They are competitive but underneath that is a lot of fun and silliness. During biweekly practices, they prepare for competitions and practice question sets, but in between the questions they all argue, talk, and joke like an extended family. 

Buol explains that practices tend to involve a lot of joking around and having fun as well as practicing. 

“Practices are really fun. We talk about random things until Mr. P gets there. He is the one who reads the questions to us and keeps us on track. The number of questions we get to during each practice totally depends on how talkative we are that day.”

The DePaul Prep Scholastic Bowl Team has their eyes on the future and look forward to doing as best as they can at tournaments while still having fun.