Earlier this spring, Bishop’s had two teams of students place in the top 10 in California. One of those teams advanced to the April state competition, in which they earned a fourth-place finish. In a refrain similar to most of our stories right now, this too was impacted by the pandemic.
Per the organization’s website, each team “completed online exams that covered topics in microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics and current events” for the opportunity to advance to national competition. Typically, the events feature both written and “Quiz Bowl” (similar to Academic League) types of exams.
Downing Family Faculty Chair in Economics Dee Mecham notes, “We had multiple teams that scored among the top 10 in California. Each school though, for the state competition, is allowed to be represented by just one team. Bishop's was represented in the online competition by seniors Julia Chen, Tommy Sottosanti, Jasmine Chen and Tobey Shim. We are proud of them and the larger group of students who demonstrated that they were competitive at the top level in the state.”
On Wednesday, April 15, the four Bishop’s contestants were prepared to take a written 36-question test, but technical difficulties ensued. Julia describes the situation, saying, “There were definitely a lot of hiccups in transforming the competition into an online event. On the original day of the competition, we had to take the one-hour online multiple-choice test twice, staying through our lunch break after the organizers realized that no one's answers had properly submitted. Even after the second time, the test still didn't save anyone's answers, so they rescheduled for the next week. That was pretty frustrating, but in hindsight I'm actually grateful that it gave us the opportunity to get a feel for the test format and question types.
Tobey explains, “This is the first time the four of us have participated in this specific competition. Between the four of us, we have quite a bit of experience with academic competitions in general, but this was a new experience for us all.”
Julia says, “This competition usually takes place in Los Angeles. The original plan was to drive up as a team to compete before all of the COVID-19 measures came into place. When the physical event was cancelled, there was a period of time when we weren't sure if we were going to get to participate at all, so it was really exciting when Mr. Mecham told us that they would proceed with the competition over Zoom.”
Once they got through the written exam, “The limitations of the online format affected the Quiz Bowl round, too. Normally, it's a fast-paced round where the team that buzzes in and answers the quickest gets the point, which I was excited for as the captain of our Varsity Academic League team,” shares Tobey. “However, this wasn't workable digitally, so it became a round where every team had an equal opportunity to respond, which took away one of our biggest advantages. However, we persevered and had a good time, and we took fourth place out of all schools in California.”
Julia concludes, “We absolutely couldn't have done any of it without Mr. Mecham. This definitely isn't part of the normal curriculum for Honors Economics, so I really appreciate that he takes so much time to provide us the opportunity to participate in this competition and best prepare us. Even beyond just balancing teaching a class and proctoring us during the competition, he stayed on a Zoom call with us from 8 until 10 p.m. to answer all of our questions the night before!”