What mythological creature is the symbol of the Mobil gasoline company? Which famous 80’s rock group was named after the river of the Greek Underworld? (Answers to follow)
After several high-intensity days, New London High School Advanced Placement English students would confidently answer. Their library was transformed into a Roman coliseum for three days. Gladiators and ferocious mammals were not to be seen, but instead students racing across bookshelves and computers. The fiercest competition of the year among AP students was underway: Mythology Bowl XIX.
The Mythology Bowl is an annual springtime trivia contest put on by AP English teacher Tom Neumann. Students enrolled in his two AP class periods assemble into randomly drawn teams. Competitors create team names and assemble wardrobe based on works studied in class. Neumann enforces a time limit of three days for students to complete 26 pages of trivia questions using books and the Internet. Members of the team with the highest amount of correct answers after three days are the champions.
Back in 1993, Adrian Martin’s English class held the First Annual Mythology Bowl. Neumann took over the AP English course during the 2001-2002 school year, the year of Mythology Bowl X.
“By that time it was really an AP tradition, so by building on that, I continued the tradition,” Neumann said. “The competition has been around longer than the competitors.”
The competition evolved since Neumann took over nearly a decade ago. “Virtually all the time students spent at the tables with reference books,” he said. “Most students [today] don’t spend time at the tables with the books but at computer screens. But the purpose of the activity is still the same.”
The purpose of the competition, Neumann emphasized, is to open students’ eyes on how great of an influence the Greeks and Romans have on the English language and literature. Because of the students’ competitive natures, the bowl is ripe for fruitful experiences, and the determination to win among students remains as strong as ever.
“Most students who take AP are very competitive when it comes to their grades. The winning teams put in way more work than the three hours we put in school time. The sportsmanship has been truly impressive.”
Final results have been very close in past years. The top three teams in 2005 were separated by a total of 6 points (3-6 trivia questions). Neumann went back and diligently recalculated the scores between those teams to assure the correct team claimed the title.
Therefore, he was relieved by the 2011 winning team’s “nice, comfortable win” with a 53-point lead over second-place.
The winning team this year, “The Mistresses” (based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby) was made up of Katherine Chaudoir, Kim Gilman, Jonathan Ives, Anna Moser, and Mackenzi Steinert. They scored a cumulative total of 514 points.
“The Claymore Puppies” (based on Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War novel The Things They Carried) followed up with 461 points. The team consisted of Scott Bellile, Alex Elliott, Cera Malueg, Adam Steinberg and Ariana Sullivan.
(For readers still wondering, Mobil’s trademark symbol is Pegasus, the winged horse, and the band Styx is named after the river of the Underworld.)