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MBMS Scholar Quiz Finalists Battle for Victory

Jun 01, 2019 10:41AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

The "Red Team" reacts to the news that they have been declared winners of MBMS's annual Scholar Quiz

Two teams were neck-and-neck in a hard-fought, fast-paced competition at the finals of the Manhattan Beach MIddle School's annual Scholar Quiz on Friday.

At half time, the "Blue Team" of Alexei Katsuyama, Alex Holcomb, Jackson Cato, and Luigi Salvaggio was tied, 60-60, with the "Red Team" of Ryan Kim, Alex Ea, Akash Mishra, and Nick Wong.

Competitors had correctly answered questions in categories including math, science, literature, geography, history, and pop culture. At breakneck speed, they had identified alkaline metals, the face on the ten dollar bill (Hamilton), the longest river in North America (suprisingly, the Missouri), and the real name of the "Notorious RBG" (Ruth Bader Ginsburg).

Then teacher/moderator Taylor DiBernardo began the question, "He was born on August 23, 1978 - " and before she could even finish the sentence, Akash Mishra's flag flew in the air.

"Kobe Bryant!" declared Mishra triumphantly. 

"That is correct," said DiBernardo, and the crowd erupted in a roar.

The Red Team went on to win in a squeaker, 145-135, as both teams were congratulated for their sportsmanship and poise.

Mishra, a 7th grader who comes from a family of Laker fans, explained after the competition that when he was younger one of his brothers played a song for him called "24 Kobe" that begins with the line, "Born on August 23, 1978," and that fact stuck in his head. 

The competition was so close that both teams didn't know who had actually won until the announcers announced the final score. When the Red Team finally learned that they had prevailed, "It was awesome," said Mishra, who added that he is looking forward to returning to the competition next year.

MBMS Scholar Quiz

The Scholar Quiz, a fast-paced academic trivia competition with teams of four students, has become stunningly popular at the middle school, with more than a third of students in the entire school competing. This year, 576 students created 144 teams, according to MBMS Principal Rose Ahrens.

"I am always so amazed by our students - the number of students who participate, the sportsmanship on the teams and in the crowd, and the breadth of knowledge in so many disciplines," said Ahrens. "I'm so glad we have an opportunity to give these students a place to shine."

Manhattan Beach Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Hersman was one of the parents who originally brought the Scholar Quiz from Mira Costa High School to MBMS in 2004/2005.

"The first year we did the competition here, we couldn't even get 64 teams to compete - we only had 42," said Hersman, who held an honorary spot in the front row at the finals on Friday. "But once the kids saw it, they thought it was the coolest thing." 

MBMS allows an unlimited number of teams to enter, which explains why it has become such a school-wide phenomenon every spring.

The competition takes place over several weeks, with an army of parent and community volunteers working as scorekeepers, readers, and flag judges. The competition is sponsored by local tutoring company Study Hut, and by the MBMS PTA.

This year's winners received Amazon gift cards - and of course, the adulation of their peers.

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