HPA Middle School takes 3rd place in 28th Annual Big Island Newbery Quiz Bowl

  • HPA Middle School students Jack Arrillaga, Lily Kassis, Sofia Howard, Bianca Brown and Parker Smith pose with their medals at the Big Island Newbery Quiz Bowl at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on Wednesday. (COURTESY PHOTO/HPA)
    HPA Middle School students Jack Arrillaga, Lily Kassis, Sofia Howard, Bianca Brown and Parker Smith pose with their medals at the Big Island Newbery Quiz Bowl at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on Wednesday. (COURTESY PHOTO/HPA)

KOHALA COAST — As pressure mounted on Wednesday morning, Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s sixth- and seventh-grade teammates huddled together to come up with their answer for the final question in the Big Island Newbery Quiz.

After completing the 30-question competition, all teams were required to participate in a two-question tiebreaker.

After answering them correctly, HPA Middle School’s total came out to 17 out of 30, bringing them to third place in the islandwide quiz. The last 10 questions were more difficult, while the tiebreaker was the hardest. Each team had around one minute or so to agree on their answer for each question. Several questions were so difficult that no teams came up with the correct answers.

“We were really excited when they didn’t call our name for fourth or fifth place,” said HPA seventh-grader Lily Kassis, who has participated in the competition for four years straight. “Then they called us for third, and we all started screaming.”

HPA’s K-8 librarian, David Giff, enjoyed the morning with his students.

“It was an especially exiting year because, besides winning third, we had author Kwame Alexander as quizmaster,” he said. “Through this event I hope to develop an islandwide author visit circuit to share this with all schools.”

The team’s winning prize was an individual box of Big Island Candies for each participant.

The biggest Bowl yet, 21 teams consisting of schools, libraries and other groups participated this year. HPA Middle School was among four North Hawaii teams that competed.

Hundreds of children, parents, teachers and other supporters filled Hapuna Ballroom that morning at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel to cheer on their teams.

Hilo Public Library team came in first place, and Konawaena Elementary School second. Kealakehe Intermediate took home fourth place, while Hawaii Classical Christian Academy took fifth.

Other teams from around the island included Konawaena Middle School, Pahoa, St. Joseph, Waiakea Elementary and Intermediate, Waikoloa School, FL-WR, Haaheo, HICHE, Hilo Union, Holualoa, HPA Lower School, Kamehameha, Kaumana, Kealakehe Elementary and Kohala Adventist.

FL-WR donated 120 copies of Alexander’s new book, “Playbook,” for each participating student. They then had the opportunity to get their copies autographed by him after the Bowl.

Now in the event’s 28th year, Paula Kamiya served as master of ceremonies.

Big Island Newbery Quiz Bowl is a reading contest. Students read and study the books all year. It is then determined, per school level, which students will actually compete in the bowl. But it’s not just about reading books and paying attention. Students also need to understand what they are reading in order to answer 30 questions that focus on content, theme, setting, author or the books’ titles.

Prizes were donated by Ace Hardware/Arts &Crafts, Atlantis Submarines, Basically Books, Big Island Candies, Big Island Educators &Retirees, Body Glove Cruises, Cafe 100, Eugene and Julia Tao, Fair Wind, Friends of the Library Waikoloa, Jon and Aunty Lorna Saito, Kamehameha Schools, KBXtreme Sports, KTA Super Stores, Mauna Kea Hotel, McDonald’s, Ocean Sports, Office Max, Pohakuloa Training Area, Safeway Food &Drug, TD Foods and Walmart.

Almost all teams received prizes by the end of the event in lucky number drawings following the awards ceremony.

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