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English Department Head Nan Cohen’s Appearance on Jeopardy Inspires Student-Led Quiz Bowl Initiative
English Department Head Nan Cohen’s Appearance on Jeopardy Inspires Student-Led Quiz Bowl Initiative

Back in 2017, Nan Cohen, Viewpoint’s English Department Chair, decided to shake things up and dive into the Jeopardy Teachers Tournament. Little did she know that her bold move would light a spark among her students, leading them to kickstart their very own Quiz Bowl group right here on campus.

“Because I had been on Jeopardy, a student graduating in 2018 approached me and said, ‘I want to start a Quiz Bowl team’,” shared Cohen. “Having participated in trivia competitions where people enjoyed Quiz Bowl just for the fun of it, I had a basic understanding that helped us get the group off the ground.”

During I Block and lunch, students gathered in Nan's classroom, setting up buzzers and challenging each other with questions spanning science, literature, math, American history, and even opera.

“Mostly, we play for fun because Viewpoint students tend to be really busy. We began competing with other high schools right before the pandemic,” Cohen explained.

In November, Cohen, accompanied by five dedicated student volunteers, embarked on a journey to Del Mar to participate in the Canyon Crest Powered Points VII Quiz Bowl Tournament. Viewpoint competed against 15 high schools from California, Arizona, and Texas, ultimately achieving 10th place in the competition.

“Since we don’t have an official team, we pretty much throw it open and say, ‘Who’s available this weekend and can go?’,” said Cohen. “While the competition was tough, our students did a great job and had a lot of fun.”

However, change might be on the horizon. Cohen mentioned that Middle School students are starting to take notice and are now organizing their own Quiz Bowl activities.

“What we're hoping is that if it becomes an established activity in the Middle School and kids show up to Ninth Grade feeling like, ‘In High School, I'm gonna do Quiz Bowl’, then we'll have an activity that will actually take precedence for a lot of kids,” Cohen added.

Beyond the intellectual benefits, Cohen emphasized the unique value of Quiz Bowl in fostering a resilient mindset.

“Quiz Bowl requires people who know a lot of stuff to get comfortable with giving wrong answers,” said Cohen. “It teaches people to risk being wrong and feeling embarrassed. The ability to shake it off and move forward is a valuable lesson for everyone involved."

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