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Midvale Journal

Hillcrest students challenged with today’s trivia in inaugural Academic Olympiad

Apr 30, 2022 11:26AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

There was clapping and sighs of relief after the correct answers were announced following each of the seven rounds of the inaugural Hillcrest High Academic Olympiad.

The teams of four to six players, representing all four high school grades, sat at round tables that filled a meeting room. Some represented clubs or school organizations, such as art club, FBLA, band, mock trial, Key Club and HOSA; some were made of friends; and yet others were individuals who wanted to participate and were matched with teams needing more teammates.

Each table’s participants barely whispered their answers to one another after a question was posed, hoping the other teams wouldn’t hear. Then a team-designated scribe wrote their agreed-upon response to each of the eight questions per round.

Questions, which were solicited from each subject area in the school, ranging from naming who wrote “Silent Spring,” considered one of the greatest science books of all time, to knowing the different types of car motors. Students needed to know the top three Allied leaders of World War II to paintings by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. There were even questions quizzing students on the names of the four Beatles to identifying Hillcrest’s four vice principals.

“It was a healthy competition of knowledge,” said science teacher Alex Mettler, one of the judges as well as a contributor of questions. “It’s not the typical athletic competition where we see who is fastest or jumps the highest, but it’s one like athletics that involves teamwork and contribution from every team member. These questions are well-rounded and cover every subject and more at Hillcrest.”

It’s not a unique competition. In fact, social studies teacher David Veenstra, who organized the event, said he got the idea from other schools, but tweaked it for the Huskies.

“I made sure it was cross-grade so students not only met, but worked together,” he said. “It provides the opportunity for there to be legacy teams. Sure, the seniors will age out, but the rest of the team can return with some freshmen to compete. It’s inclusive and it’s a great academic competition so the ‘school nerds’ could get into it, and we could all celebrate academic knowledge.”

Veenstra said half the questions were from core subjects and half from electives.

“We aimed for questions that good students who attended and participated in class could answer, but what made it challenging was the vast knowledge they needed from electives and that’s where it was beneficial to work together as a team,” he said.

Leading up to the March 24 Academic Olympiad, Veenstra posed weekly trivia on the television screens around the building. Students could write their answers and submit them. Later, he posted those who got the answers correct.

“I had candy bars for the winners, but most of them passed. They were more excited to get their names on the wall,” he said.

As was the winning team, who will have their name on a plaque that will hang in the school’s fourth-floor commons.

After judges, Mettler along with math teachers Matt Snyder and Carrie Anderson, tallied the final round of scores during the 90-minute competition, Veenstra announced the winners. They were: fourth place, the Legal Beagles; third, Lorem Ipsum (created by a random name generator); second, Somewhat Spectacular Six; and in first place, Anemone.

The winning team—Laurel Gutierrez, Priyanka Mathews, Munashe Tanjani, Angelinne Gutierrez, Amber Parker and Lenny Beddoes—erupted in cheers of celebration.

“It was fun to gather the team to do this competition,” senior Gutierrez said. “It wasn’t a lot of work; we only met once to prepare. It’s a lot of fun trying to win.”

Beddoes was a last-minute addition to the team.

“It feels great,” he said. “There was a lot of random-based trivia from cars to Chinese, but I’m so excited we won. I have a lot of energy; I’m just pumped.”