A Look into AB's Quiz Bowl
BY ADI RAMAN '23 & EMILY XU '23
Starting March 25, the ABRHS Quiz Bowl Team will be featured on WGBH and High School Quiz Show’s YouTube channel.
Led by Nikhil Raman ’23 and Sai Subramanian ’23, Quiz Bowl practices to qualify for High School Quiz Show, a Massachusetts-based TV program. The format includes a Toss-up, Head-to-Head, Category, and Lightning Round, where contestants answer open-ended and multiple choice questions regarding a myriad of topics, from classic literature to the NFL. ABRHS qualified for the televised 16-team bracket of HSQS by competing in the preliminary Super Sunday event on November 6, 2022 and scoring as one of the top 15 participating teams in the state—the sixteenth team is chosen through a wildcard match.
Preparation for a show that demands a vast sea of knowledge to be one’s fingertips is demanding, Nikhil confided: “one strategy we heavily relied on was rewatching past years' videos to acquaint ourselves with the format of questions, develop strategies for category selection, and find areas that we needed improvement in.” However, HSQS requires not only familiarity with information of many fields but a nimble reaction time with the buzzer. “We improvised our own methods of training this, lacking the same equipment at the studio,” he continued.
However, the path to HSQS has had a few bumps in the road, namely the COVID-19 pandemic. “Ever since COVID, our attendance has been anemic, and with the departure of our long time coach/advisor Mrs. Bohmiller last summer, we struggled to get Quiz Bowl on its feet for the 22–23 year,” said Nikhil. Attendance and success had been sporadic even before the pandemic—excluding a 2nd place standing in 2018, 2023 marks the first time AB qualified for HSQS since their statewide victory in 2014. “We were extremely lucky to have been able to work with Ms. Dana Homer, a science teacher, to revive our club this year and get things running.”
Furthermore, the transition out of online tournaments back to in-person ones has been fulfilling: “Given the involved, time-based, and active nature of the buzzer-style gamemode, it is far more enjoyable to be seated at the familiar rows of desks, buzzers in hand, each person attentively following every word of the reader.” Nikhil also described the surreal and magical quality of competing in front of an audience for television. “The whole atmosphere and character of the competition has changed; [HSQS] is primarily entertainment, rather than a skill-based test. And though the idea of recording and the presence of an audience seemed daunting, whatever pressure imparted by the cameras and studios was neutralized by the support of our turnout.”
Nikhil commented on the smaller delights of being on AB Quiz Bowl: “High School Quiz Show also requires expertise of local (Massachusetts) government, civics, current events, and Massachusetts culture, which we otherwise would not need to know.” Despite the name, trivia is nowhere near trivial, as it inculcates an appreciation of the people and communities we are surrounded by at Acton-Boxborough. Despite the club’s success this season, Nikhil stated, “We are still struggling with recruitment and fear the longevity of our club after this year. We are hoping that through our achievements this year, and a bid for Nationals, we will be able to bolster its popularity and secure its future.”
Think you could be the next quiz whiz representing Acton-Boxborough on TV? AB Quiz Bowl meets on Wednesdays from 3–4 pm in room 246W. Be sure to catch the team’s performance either on WGBH or High School Quiz Show’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@HighSchoolQuizShow.