Lancers take on World Scholar’s Cup


by Kasal Smaha, Reporter

On February 27 and 28, a diverse team of students will travel to Washington, D.C. to compete in the international World Scholar’s Cup at the British School of Washington.

The local team, guided by experienced coach and social studies teacher Seth Roberts, includes Brendan McCann, James Ensor, Garrett Wiehler, Samantha Buckman, Dalton Monague, Hugh Norko, Richard Zhang, Kasal Smaha, Emily Barbagallo, Burke Roberts, Maleeha Coleburn, and Laura Glawe. These students are broken into four teams of three for the purposes of preparing for and attending the championship.

“I joined the World Scholar’s team because I like to learn about how things apply to the real world and interact with other people that like to do the same,” said junior Garrett Wiehler.

Each year, the international World Scholar’s Cup board decides a different general topic. The topic is intentionally expansive, so as to specifically to invoke the interest of the participants and set the stage for a wide variety of ideas. It also heavily influences the five subject areas of the competition. The five subject areas─history, literature, science, social studies, art, and a “wild-card” contextual interest area─allow for teens with a broad range of differing interests to find a strong suit in the competition.

This year’s topic is “An Imperfect World,” which sets an almost cynical tone. For example, the art category is titled “Flawed Visions, Broken Sounds,” whereas the social studies area is given the moniker “When States Falter.”

Team members have been training weekly for the Washington, D.C. Regional Round, devotedly honing and polishing their argumentation and essay-writing skills. These activities help the team to prepare for two of the four different sections of the event: the Team Debate and the Competitive Essay Writing competition, respectively. These contests, along with the Jeopardy-style Scholar’s Bowl and the multiple-choice Scholar’s Challenge, form the core of a World Scholar’s round.

“The best way to prepare for the World Scholar’s Cup is to go through the list of given topics and try and tie each one back to the topic,” Burke Roberts, team member and senior at Tuscarora High School, said. “I try to find out the symbolism behind each topic.”

The World Scholar’s Cup was founded in 2007 by Daniel Berdichevsky as a celebration of education and the use of knowledge. Its first competition was held in Guanju, South Korea, but is now held in cities around the world, including locales such as Jakarta, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, Rio de Janiero, and Prague. This season’s final round will take place in Bangkok, Thailand, in late June.

Those teams that place well at the Bangkok Global Round will take part in a post-season competition known as the Tournament of Champions, held at Yale University. This past year, two Linganore teams attended the prestigious event, where senior Maleeha Coleburn placed 7th in the Cooperative Essay Writing event.