East Catholic history team heading to Washington, D.C., for national competition

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Apr. 11, 2013
East Catholic Junior Varsity History Team
Richard Roberts, social studies teacher at East Catholic, with members of the junior varsity history team: Anna Stern, Alex Hill, Nicole Cohen, Seamus McKeevern, Alaina Van Slooten and Corinne Zazzaro. Photo by Christian Mysliwiec.

High school historians across the country are marking their calendars for April 27 – the day of the National History Bee and Bowl. Among the many teams traveling to Washington, D.C., for the competition is East Catholic High School in Manchester.

The history of the school's history team itself does not go back far; it started last January. But in its short existence, the junior varsity team has ranked first in the state, winning the JV Division State Competition held March 9 in Newtown and earning the right to attend the National History Bee and Bowl on April 27. (In addition, the varsity team placed second at Newtown.)

The difference between a history bee and a history bowl is the difference between individual and group competitions. East Catholic's JV team will be competing in the history bowl.

“There's two teams of six, and four people compete in each round for four rounds,” said Richard Roberts, a social studies teacher at East Catholic and the team's supervisor. When a question is posed to the teams, time is of the essence: a contestant confident in the answer must give it before the other team does. But if they answer incorrectly, they afford their opponents the opportunity to think it over at their leisure.

Teammates are not allowed to confer amongst themselves, except in round three, the lightning round, in which the teams attempt to answer as many questions as possible in 60 seconds.

East Catholic will face more than 50 teams at nationals, “closer to 60,” said team member Anna Stern. As they wait for April 27, they are “pumped” and “excited” for the competition.

“I didn't think we'd do that well in the state competition,” said Corinne Zazzaro. Since it was their first time competing, they had modest hopes.

Alaina Van Slooten agreed. “We went in thinking it was like a practice,” she said. “But ended up doing...”

“Good,” finished Seamus McKeevern.

Clearly, the students are serious about history. But for many of them, they got involved in the team for the social aspect of it. “I joined because the practices were really fun,” said Nicole Cohen. “The history is just a plus.”

The team is in the middle of the process of raising funds for the trip. On April 10 the team held both a milkshake sale during lunch, using ice cream donated from Shady Glen, and an event at Boston's Gourmet Pizza Restaurant and Sports Bar. Anyone interested in making a donation can contact Roberts at RobertsR@echs.com.

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