A student from Cowichan Secondary’s Quamichan campus has won the provincial title in this year’s Grade 8 Scholastic Challenge.
Part of the Canadian Scholastic Challenge series, the online contest was held in February, but the winners were not announced until two months later.
It was a surprise for 13-year-old Geoffrey Arrowsmith when he found out he had won top spot and was only three questions away from being national champion.
A group of experienced elementary and middle school teachers, with the help of some students, submit a variety of questions every year. The ideas and concepts from these questions are used to form the questions found in each of six sections of the test. These include: general knowledge (food, art, sports, music, current events, entertainment, mythology, etc.), language and literature, social studies, science, and mathematics.
The questions vary from year to year and are not related to a specific curriculum, but are selected to reflect the general knowledge and educational levels expected of Grade 8 students.
Contest supervisors administer the one-hour competition at computers in their school. The contest consists of 100 questions that range from easier, to medium to harder in each section.
The contest must be completed by March 15 with results mailed to schools in May.
Arrowsmith’s general knowledge helped him get through it successfully.
“I read a lot,” he admitted.
Asked how he qualified to take part at all, Arrowsmith said, “they asked the teachers and they recommended certain kids from each class, not necessarily the smartest kids, but the ones they thought would do the best on this test. Three or four kids went from each class. There were about 50 people at the school who took part.”
Arrowsmith defeated thousands of students across the province for the win.
“One of the questions that I remember quite well listed three types of bread and one of those was focaccia. Then they asked what category this group fell in. I had no idea what the other two were but I knew what focaccia was so I said ‘bread.’”
Quamichan campus was proud of his achievement.
“They surprised me at an assembly after all the awards from the track meet,” Arrowsmith said. “Everybody was clapping and I walked up, really embarrassed because I wasn’t expecting it. And for a couple of days afterwards everybody was congratulating me and I was just known as ‘the smart kid.’”
A group of boys even came up to him and after congratulating him, one of them joked, “He knows what you’re thinking. He can read minds.”
At home it was tough for his parents to keep quiet about his win.
“They knew a week before I did so they were trying to keep it in while trying to make me remember about the test because it had been a couple of months since it happened. I got taken out to dinner by my grandparents as well.”
Arrowsmith is already thinking about his plans for when he’s finished school.
“I’m hoping eventually to go into the film industry, as a director eventually, but right now somewhere in the film industry would be perfect,” he said.