Buzz for an answer

BVH Quiz Bowl team wins against ORH with a score of 475-80


Jaime Jazo

On Jan. 20, BVH varsity Quiz Bowl team competes against ORH. (From left to right) junior Giselle Geering, senior Henry Tang, senior Xavier Millan, senior Olivia Peek and senior David Wu listen attentively to the questioner’s question before pressing on the buzzer and providing an answer.

At Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) library, tables and chairs shifted from their original placement, where the area was split into two: an area for the competitors and the other for the audience members. BVH competitors wore their blue team shirts that featured multiple graphics that corresponded to subjects like art, history, science, math and literature—subjects on which the questions for the competition are based on. 

On Thursday, Jan. 20, the varsity Quiz Bowl team represented BVH and competed at an in-person match against Otay Ranch High for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. BVH won the match with a score of 475 to 80.  

“I really want to emphasize [that] this is the first in-person Quiz Bowl match that we have had in nearly two years,” varsity Quiz Bowl Coach Joseph Szakovits said. “No matter what the results were, this was an extremely important match that we were fortunate to play. The kids have been working all year and many of them the last two years to get to this point, so it was very special to us.”

According to Varsity Quiz Bowl Captain and senior Xavier Millan, the team goes in with a strategy to make sure the best results are achieved. Since Quiz Bowl is a match where time management is important, they have to practice beforehand. Szakovits mentioned that the varsity team practices every Tuesday after school.

I don’t feel like I was even needed today. If I hadn’t been there, these kids would have been able to manage themselves and be just fine. And that speaks to the level of preparation and commitment that our kids have.”

— varsity Quiz Bowl Coach Joseph Szakovits

“If you’re ahead, you kind of want to play down the time, so you kind of let it go as long as possible. So if you’re ahead, you can let five seconds go [you don’t have to answer immediately] to slow down the other team,” Millan said.

Part of having a well functioning team, varsity Quiz Bowl Treasurer and senior David Wu and varsity Quiz Bowl co-Captain and senior Oliva Peek expressed the importance of knowing fellow teammates and what questions they can answer. This will make it easier for the team members to refer to a team member when answering questions from a range of topics. 

Peek also described that having this in-person match allowed her team to bond with one another more. In turn, they were able to get to know each better and further a sense of community within the team. 

“Knowing each person’s niche or topic and covering all our bases like history, geography, literature and music. We make sure everyone is represented,” Wu said.

Before transitioning into in-person competitions, the team competed remotely in online matches amidst the pandemic. According to Szakovits, in order to participate in matches, team members have to abide by newly implemented COVID-19 related guidelines to uphold student and staff safety. 

Participants are required to get COVID-19 tested and are expected to wear their face masks when answering questions. Szakovits described that he is grateful for his students due to their adaptability to the changing regulations within Quiz Bowl.  

“The kids have just been so steadfast through all of [the new guidelines] and remain so enthusiastic. It’s an incredible group of 21 kids that we have; I’m not sure what exactly I did to deserve the opportunity to work with this group of kids but it has been a privilege,” Szakovits said. 

This match was entertaining for them, especially when varsity Quiz Bowl Secretary and senior Henry Tang made a joke regarding one of their team members being missing. This made the BVH side of the room start to laugh in acknowledgement.

“Our teammate Sam is very good with sports questions and we were given a sports question but unfortunately, Sam could not be here for this match. So [Tang] was telling other people not to tell Sam we couldn’t answer the sports question. I think it just really heightened morale,” Peek said.

During the match, fellow BVH staff, students and community members came to support. A notable moment for Szakovits was seeing some of his colleagues watch the competition and support students. Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level (HL) 2 Biology teacher Michelle Mardahl Ph.D. and IB English HL 1 and Theory of Knowledge teacher Jason Good were audience members during the match. 

“It was very special to have them drop by and wish everybody luck. I think that that gave the kids a big boost going into our match, so that was terrific,” Szakovits said. 

Millan hopes the team makes the playoffs this season. The Quiz Bowl team made it the past two seasons, however, they were both canceled due to COVID-19. As a short-term goal, next week Millan, Wu and Peek want to beat Olympian High’s Quiz Bowl team. 

“I would say [that] we all win some and we’ll lose some. We will always be happy for strong competition and we look forward to seeing if everybody makes it to the playoffs,” Peek said.

Overall, Szakovits emphasized that the match “was all about the kids,” who participated in the competition. He felt proud of the team’s hard work, dedication and achievement. Moving forward, the team will compete at future Quiz Bowl matches against schools that are a part of the Metro Conference Academic League. 

“I don’t feel like I was even needed today. If I hadn’t been there, these kids would have been able to manage themselves and be just fine. And that speaks to the level of preparation and commitment that our kids have,” Szakovits said. 


An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled the last names of senior Xavier Millan and Olivia Peek. This article was updated on January 23, 2022.