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Lowell Students Battle with Brains for Ticket to Knowledge Bowl Finals

March 20, 2019
Students from the Stem Academy during the last round of the Kathryn P. Stoklosa Knowledge Bowl, from left, Dylan Sok, Samuel Little, Isaac Maniscalco and Jackson Little. Their team came in third place. SUN/ David H. Brow. Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LOWELL -- With the first-place medal around each of their necks, Wang Middle School students gathered around student team manager Curtis Chanthaboun, his arm wrapped around the Kathryn Philbin Stoklosa Knowledge Bowl championship cup.

“I’m in somewhat shock,” eighth-grader Chanthaboun said. “I looked at our coaches and my mouth dropped. We were very surprised because we knew STEM and Daley are very good teams, but we knew they could be had.”

Seven nights of questions, focusing on math, science, current events and more, posed to 10 students from nine middle schools across Lowell, culminated with the Knowledge Bowl finals on Tuesday night. The final round featured a battle of knowledge among the three finalist schools, including Wang and Daley middle schools, and STEM Academy.

The ten students on each team, chosen to participate after a rigorous selection process dating back months, sat on the stage, buzzers in hand, in front of a packed Butler Middle School Auditorium.

They answered questions from moderator Patti Adams like, “What two integers are equal to their square?” and “What U.S. president is the only president to meet with a North Korean leader?” and “In 1903, with the support of the U.S. government, Panama issued a declaration of independence from what South American country?” (The answers are 0 and 1; Donald Trump; and Columbia, by the way).

Wang came out on top with 280 points, while Daley Middle School finished with 205 points, and STEM Academy closed out with 110.

With the victory in hand, each member of the Wang team will get the chance to take the championship cup home with them for a day.

“I’m going to put this right next to my bed, so when I fall asleep, I’m going to look and think about how proud I am of our team,” Chanthaboun said.

“See, I’m going to put ice cream in it,” said teammate Avery Dube -- a comment met with a laugh from his teammates.

“I’m going to sit on my couch, watch a movie and eat it,” Dube added.

The Wang Middle School team had the lead after the first round and never looked back. Wang eighth-grader Nina Wolf said they prepared around two days a week for an hour and half dating back to December.

Aside from Chanthaboun, Dube and Wolf, the Wang team is made up of Audrey DeLorenzo, Sophia Gikas, Kiran Maharjan, Manav Patel, Alden Raisbeck, Enrique Raudales and Teddy Steinberg.

“I am so proud,” said Jolane Roy, who served as the Wang coach along with Karen Cole, both teachers at the school.

Daley Middle School coaches Karen Miranda and Terence Watterson -- who stood throughout the five-round finals Tuesday night -- expressed pride for their team’s work.

“I think these guys know more than I do,” Miranda said.

Though they finished third, Lowell School Committee Vice Chair Jackie Doherty, was quick to point out that the STEM Academy team’s oldest members are in seventh grade. Teams typically have eighth-grade students.

“They’re still so young,” Doherty said.

To reach the championship round, STEM Academy was involved in a high-pressure semifinals match on Monday night, according to coaches Erinn McLaughlin and Dennison Wright. The team forced an overtime round against Pyne Middle School, before advancing to Tuesday night’s finals.

After the finals match, with a third-place medal around his neck, STEM Academy team member Isaac Maniscalco expressed satisfaction in reaching the finals.

“We all feel really accomplished,” he said. “We’re getting better as time goes on.”

Knowledge Bowl Coordinator and the special programs coordinator for Lowell Public Schools Carolyn Rocheleau is grateful for the event, which allows Lowell schools to flex their academic muscles.

“All the things in education, we hear a lot of negative stories,” Rocheleau said. “It’s nice to hear something positive, especially about the work within public schools, the work we do and how great our kids are. ... We want people to see that really great things happen in the Lowell public schools.”

The Wang team will now face off against Billerica, Tewksbury, Chelmsford, Dracut and Tyngsboro in the Knowledge Bowl Regional Finals. Tyngsboro will be the returning champion.

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis