Knowledge Bowl

Students competed in Hermiston's Knowledge Bowl, while school board member Dave Smith (center) kept time, and Nancy Lauck read questions.

Winning the Knowledge Bowl takes several of the seven cardinal virtues — patience, diligence, even humility — but key to winning the competition was in knowing what the whole group of them are called.

One of the questions in the final round asked students: since the early days of the Christian church, the seven deadly sins have been balanced by the seven cardinal what?

The battle of wits at Hermiston High School put students from local high schools through four rounds of questioning, on subjects from pre-calculus and chemistry to religion and world history

A final round ended with a team from Echo on top, followed by two Hermiston teams.

Knowledge Bowl

Students from Stanfield Secondary School discuss a question during Thursday's Knowledge Bowl competition in Hermiston.

Several local schools host competitions throughout the year. This year, teams from Echo, Hermiston, Stanfield and Umatilla competed, along with a team from Connell, Washington, about 30 miles north of the Tri-Cities.

The Hermiston club is run by HHS counselor Maggie Hughes-Boyd, and former HHS teacher and current BMCC professor John Lauck.

Hughes-Boyd said there were about three fewer teams at this year’s competition than last year, but they were competing with fall sports and concerts for time.

Within their schools, students meet throughout the year to practice and compete, testing their knowledge in history, literature, math and science. In competition, there are three four-person teams in a room, and the teams have a few seconds to talk it over and respond. If the first team to answer gets it wrong, the other teams have a chance to respond.

John Cox, a social studies and English teacher in Echo, had 12 high school students at this year’s competition.

During the school year, he said, the team gets together twice a week during lunchtime, and reviews questions from previous years.

Though some students find a niche where they carry the team, Cox said he hopes most students will develop a good sense of general knowledge.

There’s some variation, but many of the topics will coincide with what students are learning in their classes.

“There are quite a few questions that overlap,” said Katrina Morrison, an Echo junior whose best subject is math.

“They’ll recognize something they just learned that day,” Cox said. “And they’ll look at me, because they know they should know it.”

Akiva Barzee, an Echo senior, has been a Knowledge Bowl participant since his freshman year.

He is strongest in history and geography, but said the point of the club is not to be the best.

“You don’t have to be smart to do it,” he said. “It’s a way to meet new people.”

Over the years, questions will get recycled, both in practice and in competition.

“You can order ‘pristine’ questions from the website, which have never been used,” said Cox. “But they’re expensive, and they’re per competition.”

Below are some of the questions students had to answer:

1) Which world leader wrote much of his autobiography during a lengthy imprisonment on Robben Island?

2) A “guyot” is a flat-topped variety of what kind of oceanic mountain?

3) What was the predominant religion of the Ottoman Empire?

4) Odysseus’ journey home took how many years?


1) Nelson Mandela.

2) A “seamount.”

3) Islam

4) 10 years


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