La Conner a top U.S. Knowledge Bowl team

Call it ‘Brain Gains’


THEY HAVE THE ANSWERS – Coaches Christi Malcomson (seated) and Beth Clothier (standing) lead La Conner High Knowledge Bowlers through a recent practice session in the school library. Their prep work paid off nicely as La Conner placed fourth in a recent national Knowledge Bowl contest. – Photo by Bill Reynolds

The La Conner High School Knowledge program is virtually – and truly – among the best in the country.

La Conner’s “Chronically Iliad” team competed earlier this month against schools of all sizes in the inaugural virtual National Knowledge Bowl Tournament, placing fourth among entries from 1A enrollment campuses.

Knowledge Bowl coaches Beth Clothier and Christi Malcomson said the La Conner team, which “competed up” as a 2B entry, underwent six rounds of oral and written questions covering an array of academic topics that required rapid and correct responses to put points on the scoreboard.

A major part of La Conner high school’s extracurricular calendar, Knowledge Bowl was launched in Washington state about 40 years ago. It gives high school students the opportunity to showcase their ability to answer random questions related to history, math, literature, science, government and current events.

This year the group adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic and displayed its knowledge virtually at the national level.

We were honored to participate (in the national tourney),” Clothier told the Weekly News at the end of April. “We competed against dozens of teams from Washington, Minnesota and Colorado.”

Max Drews, MacQuaid Hiller, Juna Swanson, Thomas Wilme, Eleanor Drews, Samuel Williams, Hadley Shears, Madoc Hiller, Hallie Walls, Zaira Najera and Emily Southard are this year’s participants, attending practice sessions when possible but often during the pandemic relying on independent study.

All agree the time has been well spent.

“Through Knowledge Bowl,” quipped MacQuaid Hiller, a senior who is one of two student representatives on the La Conner School Board, “I went from an annoying know-it-all freshman to a more mature know-it-all-senior.

“I’ve made some of my closest friends through this team,” he insisted, striking a more serious tone, “and have enjoyed every minute of every season.”

Swanson, a junior and the starting point guard on La Conner High’s girls’ varsity basketball team which placed second at the 2020 State 2B Tournament, said Knowledge Bowl has expanded her school experience.

“As someone from an athletic background,” she explained, “it’s been rewarding to compete in an academic sport with a completely different group of peers.”

Najera, who as an eighth grader last year was recipient of the Emma Hedbom Spirit Award, echoed Hiller and Swanson.

“For someone who is socially awkward,” the shy freshman said, “Knowledge Bowl helped me bring out the true me and I have never felt so close as I do in this team.”

A sophomore, Drews was recruited to sign up for Knowledge Bowl.

“I was encouraged by the upperclassmen on the team to join Knowledge Bowl,” Drews recalled, “and I’m glad I did. I’m excited to learn more with my lovely class and teammates.”

Madoc Hiller, meanwhile, demonstrated his grasp of world history and global languages when asked to share his thoughts on Knowledge Bowl.

“Veni Vidi Vici,” responded the La Conner High sophomore, citing the famous Latin phrase – “I came. I saw. I conquered” – attributed to Julius Caesar after the Roman general achieved a quick military victory.

La Conner Knowledge Bowl teams, as Caesar did on the battlefield, have enjoyed success over the years. That includes a state title in 2016 and having gained the well-earned reputation of having answers for everything.

Now the whole country knows, too.


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