Grizzlies in Academic League buzz in to get the win


Photo by Lindsey Poorman

Academic League students eagerly place their hands on the buzzer as they anticipate the next question.

Story by Hannah Larson, Grizzly Den Editor

 It’s a Thursday night ritual: five students wait in utter silence, ready to pounce on their opponents. Another team of five sits ramrod straight, prepared to defend themselves against the oncoming attack. The audience is full of eager spectators, hanging on to each word coming from the moderator’s mouth. The tension culminates as the first question is posed. With a deafening shriek, a competitor presses a buzzer to give their answer. The harrowing game of survival of the fittest is underway in the Mission Hills High School library.

   These battling students are members of the Mission Hills Academic League, a quiz-bowl style game that tests the knowledge of students from all four grade levels. Much like a traditional sport, players are broken up into teams based on which grade they are in. Grizzly freshmen battle ninth graders from local high schools in a variety of subjects ranging from English and world history to algebra and biology. The junior varsity team is comprised of tenth and eleventh grade students, while the elite varsity squad is made up of seniors and the occasional junior.

   “It’s cool, because you end up meeting and becoming close with people you never would have known otherwise,” Jaedyn Hoenig (11) said.

   During a typical 30 minute match, the moderator will begin with a question, known as a tossup, that can be answered by either team. Whoever presses their buzzer first has the opportunity to give their reply. If the first person to buzz in is wrong, one point is deducted from their team’s score, and the opposing team has the opportunity to answer. However, if the second team to buzz in also misses the question, no points are deducted from their score. Whichever team answers correctly is awarded three points and the moderator moves on to a multi-part query that the team works together to answer. After a twenty second collaboration, the team captain relays the information to the moderator, who awards points based on how many questions the team answered correctly. After the points are scored, the moderator moves on to the next tossup, and the cycle restarts.

   “Academic League creates a friendly competition that’s also a team ‘sport.’ I’m able to do this while surrounded by excellent friends that I have created from being on the team,” Akash Mahajan (11) said.

Academic League creates a friendly competition that’s also a team ‘sport.’ I’m able to do this while surrounded by excellent friends that I have created from being on the team,”

— Akash Mahajan

   The success enjoyed by these Grizzly teams is due, in large part, to the coaching staff that faithfully steers them towards success. Varsity coach Jon Terrell, junior varsity head Michael Butler, and freshman coach John Guseman lead team practices several times a week in order to guarantee that the students are prepared for Thursday matches. 

   “Academic League pushes you to react quickly and take smart risks, which are really good skills in life. Also, answering the questions gives you practice for other classes,” Rian Fariolen (10) said.

   Following the six-game regular season, the team with the best record in each local division—Coast, Inland, North, and Valley—will go on to finals, where they will compete with the other high ranking teams. After two intense matches on finals night, the champion team from each level receives medals and a trophy. If you are interested in brushing up on your trivia skills and joining a competitive team, come to room 470 after school. For more information regarding the Academic League organization, visit