AP NEWS

Lowell Schools Coming Together

May 17, 2019

LOWELL — Beyond the buzzers and math problems and trivia drills, something else is happening when this group of Lowell middle school students meet to prep for the upcoming Knowledge Bowl.

New friends.

In a change from previous years, the members of Lowell’s Knowledge Bowl team this year are an “all-star” group made up of students from STEM Academy at Rogers School, Daley Middle School and Wang Middle School.

Less than two months ago, this wasn’t the case. The three schools duked it out in the finals of a city-wide competition.

“We were kind of out for each other’s throats,” said Curtis Chanthaboun, the student team manager and an eighth-grader at Wang Middle School.

Wang Middle School came out on top in that competition, but those differences are in the rear view mirror.

“I like my home dawg Nina,” said Gabby Rudy, an eighth-grader at Daley Middle School. She gestured to Nina Wolf, an eighth-grader at Wang Middle School who was sitting a desk away.

The logistics of lining up schedules has been tough, but the students from all three schools have reliably made it to their twice weekly practices, coaches said.

“We’re hoping this will help Lowell propel to the top,” said Karen Cole, a coach from Wang Middle School. “The best from all the schools.”

Jolane Roy, another Wang teacher, is the other head coach. Karen Miranda, a social studies teacher from Daley Middle School; Terry Watterson an algebra teacher from Daley Middle School; and Denny Wright a math teacher at the STEM Academy round out the coaching team.

Together they’re prepping students on the topics they might encounter at the contest, including math, current events and general trivia. Students from throughout the region will compete in a two-day tournament on May 20 and 21 at Tyngsboro High School.

Tyngsboro took home last year’s regional title and Chelmsford cinched it the year before.

Yutt Kho, an eighth-grader at Daley Middle School, was at that 2017 competition as a sixth-grader.

“I feel like I might do a lot better now because I have more experience,” he said.

For Wolf the competition is a link to her older brother, who was on her school’s Knowledge Bowl team before she joined.

“I decided in seventh grade, might be fun, so I decided to try it and I got on,” she said. “It’s kind of a thing me and my brother have in common.”

Rudy said she got a letter inviting her to try out in sixth grade. She didn’t make it. The next year she tried again and got on her school’s team.

“It just feels great even if you make it just past the first round of trying out, because it’s such a selective group,” she said. “It’s 10 people out of a 500 person school. It makes me feel really great. It makes me feel more confident with my own capabilities.”

At a recent meeting, the coaches said they’re emphasizing the math section, a high-pressure round that requires cooperation.

As for that team collaboration, they’re working on it, said Chanthaboun in a serious moment apart from the chatter and laughter of the new teammates.

“They have to build that bond when they go up on stage,” Chanthaboun said. “To trust each other that they know what they’re talking about.”