Armstrong High School's Quiz Bowl team is back in the knowledge business.
Originally discontinued for next year because of budget cuts in the Robbinsdale School District, the team managed to raise $5,100 -- $1,100 more than was needed to keep it going through the 2008-09 school year.
That has allowed Quiz Bowl coach Matt Quinn to drop his fundraising efforts and concentrate on putting a team together for next year.
"We are graduating quite a few seniors," said Quinn, who teaches social studies at the Plymouth high school. "I already started recruiting with some of the ninth-graders, letting them know about it."
The Quiz Bowl fundraising is part of a schoolwide effort to reinstate discontinued sports and other extracurricular activities. According to Armstrong High activities director Patti Weldon, the school has raised $47,850 to restore some activities next year but still needs to come up with another $72,453 "to get back everything that's been cut."
The plight of the Quiz Bowl team was highlighted in a March Star Tribune story, at a time when team members were trying to focus on the national Quiz Bowl competition in Chicago. The plan then was to ax the team as part of the district's efforts to pare $5 million from the 2008-09 budget, and Quinn was soliciting donations to try to save Quiz Bowl. Then, the money started pouring in.
Contacts with alumni, parents and students proved fruitful, and Quinn was able to collect $2,300 from those sources. Then, an Edina business -- Doherty Employment Group -- kicked in $2,000 in matching funds. The remaining funds came from entry fees charged for a May Quiz Bowl tournament.
The money will fund Quiz Bowl for another year, Quinn said. It will also provide $800 for next year's tournament travel and entry fee costs and $300 to fund the team in 2009-2010.
Quiz Bowl is the high school version of the old televised College Bowl competition, testing students on the depth and breadth of their knowledge in such areas as sports, geography, science, history and music. In a Quiz Bowl competition, the moderator reads a question, and the contestant who first presses his or her buzzer gets first crack at the answer. Incorrect answers result in points being subtracted from the team's score. Correct answers earn points and the chance to answer a bonus question, which, unlike the initial "tossup" question, can involve deliberations with teammates.
Armstrong fielded two teams this year in the national Quiz Bowl competition. Its first team won five rounds and lost five, which placed it around the middle of the pack among 176 teams. The second team won four rounds and lost six.
Fundraising for discontinued activities at Armstrong will continue until June 30, Weldon said.
"This is for the coming school year," she said. "Then, everybody is back to square one for the 2009-2010 school year."
Weldon said Armstrong programs that were originally cut but which have been reinstated for next year include: ninth-grade boys' and girls' basketball, 10th-grade football, marching band, math club, and boys' and girls' diving. Programs still short of funds include: ninth-grade boys' and girls' soccer, ninth-grade boys' and girls' tennis, ninth-grade softball, junior varsity baseball, the speech team, and the chess club.
Norman Draper • 612-673-4547