LOWELL -- Some of the brightest middle-school students in the area pulled their chairs up to microphones and grabbed their buzzers Monday evening, as Tewksbury, Dracut and Tyngsboro students faced off in the Second Annual Kendall M. Wallace Greater Lowell Regional Knowledge Bowl.
The preliminary round of the event that highlights academic achievers was held at the Stoklosa Middle School in Lowell, where three teams competed for a place in tonight's final.
The final will pit the top two teams from Monday night, Tewksbury and Tyngsboro, against students from Lowell's Robinson Middle School, which won another preliminary competition among all eight of Lowell's middle schools.
The event is sponsored by The Sun in collaboration with Lowell Public Schools, and is named in honor of Kendall Wallace, a 1959 Lowell High School graduate who rose from reporter to chairman of the board during a half-century career at the newspaper.
"Often students with athletic achievements get recognition, and this is a wonderful way for our students who are really excelling in academics to be celebrated and to have fun and to meet students from other school districts," said Carolyn Rocheleau-Feeney, the Lowell Public Schools' coordinator of special programs. "It's wonderful to see just how much the students really do know."
Dracut maintained a lead throughout much of the competition Monday, as students competed in five rounds of questions on topics ranging from math to geology, and current events to Harry Potter.
The winning team from Tewksbury was still in last place when they correctly answered which two oceans Australia borders -- the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Tewksbury students quickly went from third place to a commanding lead in the events fifth round, a "speed round" in which rapid-fire questions were asked on a variety of subjects.
The final score was Tewksbury with 270 points, Tyngsboro with 240 and Dracut with 215.
Dracut students still left the event with medals around their necks, though, and said they enjoyed the experience and the chance to work together.
"I'm really proud," said Mark Deveau, of Dracut. "We learned so much from this. You really take home a really good experience."
"Even though we lost, we lost as a team," added fellow Dracut student Nicholas Jarek. "It was a great bonding experience for us."
Emily Holzman, of the Tyngsboro team, said tons of studying preceded the event, but that she still got nervous once she was on stage with the buzzer in her hand.
Tyngsboro's Lauren Simon said a practice meeting will help prepare her team today for the evening's main event.
Felicia Ragucci and Rachel Sessa, of the winning Tewksbury team, said they read newspapers to keep up with current events and studied a lot in preparation.
Their plans to prepare for the final include expecting a good breakfast on Tuesday.
"I think the best thing to do will be to think about the stuff we learned in the past, just get the terms in our heads, and eat a good breakfast as well," Sessa said.
The finals begin at the Stoklosa Middle School in Lowell at 5:30 p.m.
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