Rookies to champions in under a week


Emily Franke

[heading size=18″ margin=”10″]RBHS Ethics Bowl competes for first year regional competition, will compete at national level[/heading]Less than a week after putting together a team, senior Humera Lodhi and juniors Jenna Liu and Michael Pennella competed in the Ethics Bowl at Columbia College Saturday, Feb. 7. In single elimination competition, the RBHS team beat out seven other high school teams from across the state and came out at the champions of the bowl, Liu said. As a result, the team will go on to the National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB) later this year.
“First of all it was a blast that so many kiddos want to spend their Saturday talking about Ethics,” assistant coach K.C. Enright said. “I thought that Michel, Jenna, and Humera each was cool, calm and collected. And that made the difference. They were confident.”
After becoming assistant coach only a week before the bowl, Enright said he helped the team prepare mainly by buying pizza and “offering [his] two cents every now and then.” He said the team had to do a lot of preparation and cramming, and they did not know what to expect from the bowl.
“When I saw that we had won I sent out a group text to the team members that weren’t able to make it today,” Enright said. “The coach Kathryn Fishman-iWeaver wanted to be here but was called away with work. She is super proud of the team as am I. I thought we did a great job. And that our kiddos earned this win.”
Since 2008 the NHSEB is modeled after the 18 year-old Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl and only recently held its first inaugural national competition in 2013, according to NHSEB, and Missouri held its first state-wide contest in 2013-2014. When Columbia College Ethics Bowl coordinator Dustin Nelson first moved from Tennessee to Missouri, there was no high school level competition in place.
“About four years ago is when the high school ethics bowl really started taking off. It started taking off in part in Tennessee,” Nelson said. “I talked to my people and I had connections and we were able to get qualified as a qualifying bowl last year.”
Nelson said for the champion of a specific tournament to qualify for the national bowl, at least six teams must compete, so this year Nelson worked to recruit high schools to participate. Because there were more teams competing this year, he said, rounds could no longer be double-elimination style.
“This year is that we had to do it single elimination, sort of bracket style. Last year we had fewer teams, we didn’t have two matches going on at the same time, but since we had fewer teams we were able to give everyone two chances essentially to participate,” Nelson said. “That was different than this year because we just had more teams, we had an abundance of resources.”
Nelson said there are 20 teams at the national level, so there are at least 20 regional ethics bowls going on, not including the play-offs used by smaller competitions. Nelson said there are plenty of bowls that will not be able to send their champions to nationals, and the Columbia College bowl is lucky to send the RBHS team to nationals.
As a first year team, Enright said he and the team did not know what to expect at the bowl. However, Enright’s educational background is in philosophy, he said, and he received a Bachelor of the Arts in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Columbia College, and he tried to use this background to benefit the team.
“I watched some YouTube clips to prepare and have some idea of what I had gotten myself into. My background is in philosophy. This was sort of like going home for me,” Enright said. “I tried I give [the team] the benefit of my schooling, but mostly this is an example of what can happen when you put smart people together and give them the freedom to push their intellect to its limits in [an] environment that is free from judgement.”
By Emily Franke