Ridgefield High School won the National Knowledge Bowl championship on Saturday, May 7, marking the first time the school won first place on the national level in the competition.
The team’s coach, David Jacobson, said he is stunned and happy with the accomplishments of his students.
“It’s pretty special,” Jacobson said. “It’s a special deal getting to be a part in that with these kids. The kids studied for hundreds of hours and we have really good programs that are well-coached.”
He said that for more upper-level questions in the competition, knowing the actual answers is not as important as guessing the question. Johnson noted students have to quickly strategize and answer questions so they can buzz in before the other teams.
“In the national tournament, there’s hundreds of questions all day. I think I only heard maybe two complete questions before somebody would ring in,” he said.
Jacobson highlighted the team’s captain Micah Ross, who is the only senior.
“He is super-humble and has a high character. … I have to run practices for other (knowledge bowl) teams simultaneously and I couldn’t do it without the help of my high school kids, especially Micah. They go every week to volunteer their time. He helps the younger kids in training them and teaching them strategies and what to study,” he said.
Jacobson said Ross is an expert on geography and “has the entire Google Earth map in his head.”
There’s also junior Olivia DesRochers, who Jacobson said excels in math and linguistics.
“Olivia just makes the people around her better,” he said. “She’s such a good communicator and facilitator (and) just a real important part of the team.”
As for sophomore Adam Ford, Jacobson said he is the history expert who dedicated himself to learning more about chemistry this year. Ford used his knowledge to help spur the team to the win.
Emiliana Newell, who is also a sophomore, is a powerhouse at math, Jacobson said.
“This year, she added art, art history, and music to her computational skills, which made her a really valuable player,” Jacobson said.
The coach said James Haddix, the team’s only freshman, is “a ball of potential” who can easily grow to be an expert across subjects. Jacobson encouraged Haddix to specialize in literature, which aided the team during the national championship.
DesRochers is proud of her team’s accomplishment.
“I’m still in shock, honestly,” DesRochers said. “I don’t think I’ve gotten over the moment that we won. It was amazing.”
She said the team competed in the competition online in Ross’ recreation room at his house. Each teammate brought their laptops and started at 7:30 a.m. They kicked off the contest with a written round featuring around 40 questions and then moved onto the oral round where they “buzzed in Jeopardy-style.” There were four oral rounds. The team kept tying with Tacoma’s Bellarmine Preparatory Academy for every round except one.
“In the one round that we didn’t tie with the same school, we beat them by two points, so in the championship round, we tied with them again, but we had beat them in the previous round,” DesRochers said. “Basically, we were on edge the entire day because we were so close to this one school and thought we weren’t going to win, but in the end, it worked out for us.”
DesRochers said she aims to focus more on foreign language and grammar in the future so she can become an expert in the subjects at future competitions.
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