World Scholar’s Cup
For the second year in a row Brentwood hosted the World Scholar’s Cup. This competition is in it’s 10th year but it’s especially important to Brentwood because the first round in Canada was held here one year ago. The competition is a grueling experience in which diligent competitors, in teams, participate in essay writing, debates, a particularly difficult test, and a trivia challenge.
Each year, the curriculum changes and this year, the topic was “An Unlikely World.” Because of the nature of the competition, the theme dictated all aspects of the essays, trivia and all the subjects on the test. In preparation, all participants, within their groups, split the curriculum and shared their knowledge with each other. For example, one person may have taken on the history and social studies category while another teammate may have studied art and literature. In doing this, more material was covered; it was virtually impossible for one person to complete it alone.
After the introduction ceremony, the seniors gathered in the Arts Building in preparation for the essay. Each person picked one of the six prompts and took 25 minutes to research it. In a way, the exercise mimicked a written debate in the sense that a side was picked for the resolution and with as much persuasion as possible, a conclusion was made. For my essay, I chose the resolution “It’s better for the underdog to come out on top.” I wrote about the lessons the underdog can teach us but somehow, I didn’t think it was enough. Throughout the competition, I was constantly in my own head, contemplating my every move in an attempt to synchronize my thought process with that of a judge. As taxing as it was, this mindset helped my team, and many others, achieve exceptional levels of success in all aspects of the competition.
The next event was the Scholar’s Challenge. It was the test we’d all been preparing for months in advance yet not a single soul felt prepared. 100 questions. 50 minutes. 6 subjects. Going into the test, most scholars only obtained one, maybe two, categories of information. The rest was pure guess work. However, there was a slight element of strategy that went into taking on the Challenge because it was multiple choice. The nature of the test allowed for more than one choice to be chosen and if at least one of your answers was correct, the points were awarded accordingly. For example, if you filled in three out of the five bubbles and one was correct, you’d get sixty percent of a point. Because of this, instead of paying attention to the content of the question, I found myself looking for what answer choice(s) would award me the most points which, in a sense, paid off.
I’m not the most confident debater but because of World Scholar’s Cup I took a lot away from the experience that I don’t think would’ve been accessible in another setting. In two out of my three debates, my team was up against older, more experienced opponents. Naturally, I was intimidated but I think it was a key factor in making me a more confident debater and individual. Part of the criteria required each team to provide constructive criticism to the other because the judge couldn’t give any. In doing this, it pushed me to find flaws in the opposition's argument and find a way to help them for future reference. On the receiving end, rather than feeling offended by advice, I felt respected. There were no polite, reserved, remarks of praise. Instead, I received feedback on both my strengths and shortcomings and for that, I was grateful.
World Scholar’s Cup is, without a doubt, an intimidating competition. There’s a lot of material to cover, a plethora of events and fierce competitors in every direction. However, it’s an experience in which individuals grow not only as scholars, but as people. It’s an opportunity to discover one’s strengths and weaknesses through academic triumphs and failures. When names are called up during the closing ceremony, it’s more than a polite applause from the other scholars. There’s a reigning atmosphere of pride and celebration which after two long days of scholarly labor, was much appreciated. Every year, the number of participants in this event increases and with these promising numbers, World Scholar’s Cup is here to stay.
Didi O, Hope ‘20