The World Scholar’s Cup is a prestigious academic competition based on the model of the ‘academic decathlon’. An ‘olympics of the mind’, it stretches young brains in divergent and creative directions often missed by the taught curriculum, and provides a level of challenge and stretch on which only the very most able students in the world can flourish. Regional rounds have taken place for tens of thousands of students across five continents during the past 9 months, and Bromsgrove’s three teams performed so exceptionally in the Bangkok round that all of them qualifying for the Global Round in Singapore in June 2014.
The Global Round was the largest ever for this annual competition, with over 2400 of the most prodigious intellects of their generation competing against each other in writing, academic study, debate and divergent thinking. The standard was so high that even to be competing was a feat in itself, but all students were aware that the very best teams would earn the right to attend the stellar ‘Tournament of Champions’ at the renowned Yale University in November.
One of our teams competed in the Senior division, aimed at 15-18 year olds, even though two of the three students were of Junior age, which makes their achievements in Singapore all the more phenomenal. In the ‘Scholar’s Challenge’, a university-level exam covering diverse topics from abnormal psychology to cults and secret societies, and from the history of Espionage to Japanese court music, Thomas Savage joined the Honour Roll, as did teammate Surabhi Vanalia, who also gained a special distinction for the Literature topics – and their team achieved 28th place out of almost 500 Senior teams in the ‘Scholar’s Challenge’ overall. Our school’s top scorer, Thomas also excelled in the Debate round, coming in the top 10% of all senior students both in debating and across the whole competition. Little wonder, therefore, that our Senior Team – Chloe Ko, Thomas Savage and Surabhi Vanalia – qualified easily for the ‘Tournament of Champions’ at Yale in November.
One of our Junior teams – Joon Ho Byun, Daisy Savage and Devi Vanalia – also earned a place at Yale, with Joon Ho and Devi both on the Honour Roll for the ‘Scholar’s Challenge’, and the whole team scoring highly across every discipline. Special mention should also go to Jeana Lee, our youngest competitor and yet also our highest scorer in the Junior Division, due in part to her tremendous debating skills which belied her young age.
Two of the debate motions were ‘The World Scholar’s Cup is a competition for geeks’ and ‘The World Scholar’s Cup should be renamed the World Scholar’s Cult’ – and it is true that this intellectual and idiosyncratic competition, whose proud mascot is the alpaca, represents a unique community of teenagers proud of their intellectual might and cerebral idiosyncrasies. Most exciting was to see over 50 nations represented in the flag march on the final day, a reminder that our Bromsgrove ‘alpacas’ went into battle against the best in the world and came out triumphant. Congratulations to all our students who took part in the programme this year, and especially to the two teams who have won a place in the Yale finals.