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Nevis Knowledge Bowl team challenges the school board

Members of the Nevis Knowledge Bowl Team who competed at the state competition are, from left, Logan Tinnes, Natalie Hilden, John Merila, Isaac Pizarro and Wyatt Tauber. (Submitted Photo)

The five Nevis High School students that competed at the 2017 Minnesota State Knowledge Bowl Meet, sponsored by the Minnesota Service Cooperatives, held at Cragun's Resort and Hotel in Brainerd, challenged the Nevis School Board to a friendly competition at Monday night's board meeting.

According to LouAnn Muhm, who is in her 18th year coaching Knowledge Bowl, Nevis had 40 participants totaling eight teams among the 90 teams competing in the region.

"I started with four kids and this year I have 40," she said regarding how the program has grown. "It's the biggest group I've ever had."

There are three meets throughout the year, held in January, February and March. From those meets, the teams are then narrowed down to the top 21 teams that then go on to the National Joint Powers Alliance Region 5 Knowledge Bowl regional competition, which was held in Staples earlier in April.

From regions, the top four teams go on to the state competition.

The Nevis Knowledge Bowl team, consisting of seniors Isaac Pizarro, Wyatt Tauber, Natalie Hilden, Logan Tinnes and junior John Merila, placed third at the regional competition and went on to the state competition where they finished 12th out of 24 teams.

"Just so you know how close it is in Knowledge Bowl at the state level, our team at 12th place had 93.5. International Falls in 6th place had 99.5 out of 285 possible," Muhm said. "It's just that close. They have all kinds of tie breakers because it's so close. The teams are just really closely matched."

Natalie Hilden, a member on the team, explained to the board that the competition begins with a timed written exam consisting of 60 questions. The results of the exam determine where a team will be ranked prior to the oral rounds of the competition.

Muhm added that the questions consist of numerous academic topics, with very little pop culture questions.

At the lower levels of the competition, Muhm allows the participants to be on a team of their choosing but as the teams start moving up through the ranks she changes her strategy.

"When I'm looking at building a team, if they start looking like they're going to be a competitive team then I start looking at needing a literature person, a math person and a social studies person and whatever else," she said about covering all of the various topics that are addressed and the patterns of the competition.

"This is how I've learned to be a better coach," she added.

At Monday's meeting, Muhm divided the school board members into two teams to compete against the Nevis Knowledge Bowl Team.

The students won the mini competition by answering three questions correctly. The team consisting of Justin Isaacson, Andy Lindow, Superintendent Gregg Parks and Maggie Stacey came in second, answering two questions correctly and the team consisting of Jeannette Dudley, Larry Smith and Gary Stennes answered one question correctly.

Some of the questions consisted of "Vascular disorder is a result in a diminished flow of what fluid?" "These lines are from what novel? 'Wonder boy flashed in the sun. A noise like a 21 =-gun salute cracked the sky.'" "In the early 13th century who invaded China, captured Beijing, conquered Persia and invaded Russia?"

In other business, school board members did the following:

• Approved the payment of monthly bills in the amount of $205,840.12.

• Approved the retirement of Dietary Assistant Gwen Adickes, who has been with Nevis School for the past 11 years.

• Approved the spring coaching contracts with Alexis Poncelet as junior high softball coach, Michael Weerts as assistant golf coach and Shawn Klimek as junior high baseball coach.

• Approved the hire of Michael Dempsey as interim custodian.

• Approved the contract for the hire of Michelle Haldeman as a 3rd grade elementary teacher at a step 6 with a yearly salary of $41,181 for the 2017-2018 school year.

• Approved the contract for the hire of Thomas Ahrendt as a 7th through 12th grade secondary math teacher at step 16 with a yearly salary of $59,343 for the 2017-2018 school year.

• Approved the continuing contract for Crystal Bessler, K-12 physical education teacher.

The next regular school board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 22 in the school media center.