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Locke Students Curious, Confident

May 14, 2019 GMT

Gathered around a square table in Ms. Mazarakis’ room, nine Locke Middle School students consider a question on what U.S. city is named for St. Anthony of Padua.

Herin Lee, 13, tilts her head as she concentrates. Suddenly she sits up straight and her hand hits the buzzer.

“San Antonio?” she says.

She is right and relaxes back into her seat.

Lee is one of 10 students on the Billerica team competing in the Kendall M. Wallace Greater Lowell Knowledge Bowl this year. During the Knowledge Bowl, teams from communities like Billerica, Lowell, Tewksbury and Tyngsboro compete in fast-based rounds where students answer questions on everything from math and U.S. history, to current events.


The Billerica team consists of five eighth-graders, three seventh graders and two sixth graders.

“They’re very curious and they’re very confident sharing with themselves,” said teacher Henry DeBenedetto.

DeBenedetto has been the Knowledge Bowl club’s adviser for three years.

“I wish I had this when I was a kid,” he said.

For most on the team, this is their first year participating. Most joined after hearing of it via word of mouth.

“I think it’s a fun way to make new friends and get to use all the random knowledge you hear,” said Carter Grisé, 14.

The students on the team are smart, DeBenedetto said, and they don’t like to be wrong. It is a strength, but it also means they have to become comfortable guessing answers when they aren’t sure.

A few times during their practice, DeBenedetto urged them to guess when a question was met with silence. A few times some students threw their hands up and exclaimed - they had known the answer but kept it to themselves because they thought they might be wrong.

The students became animated as they talked about their favorite categories - math, presidents, science - between the 10 of them they seem to have the bases covered.

“Sometimes it’s just random things that I know the answer to, like what a pluot is,” said Melanie Gallagher, 13.

A pluot, it turns out, is a hybrid of a plum and an apricot. It is a seemingly random fact, but one that may just come in handy at the Knowledge Bowl.

Follow Emma R. Murphy on Twitter @MurphReports .

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