Visitation BVM takes the academic crown for the first time

BVM student competitor Daisy Harvey said that it felt “great” to win over St. Laurentius’s varsity team in the final round.

Visitation students (from left) Daisy Harvey, Tam Le and Anthony Vu accept their trophies and t-shirts from AJ Thomson, the main organizer the event, after earning their victory over St. Laurentius.

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary was crowned the winner of the varsity Fishtown Academic Competition Tuesday night. It was Visitation BVM’s first varsity win in the 17 years the competition has existed.

BVM student competitor Daisy Harvey said it felt “great” to win over St. Laurentius’ varsity team in the final round.

“They were getting really close,” she said, referring to St. Laurentius’ early 60–10 lead, “and I didn’t think we were going to win.” Nonetheless, BVM pulled out the comeback, beating St. Laurentius, 100–90.

Anthony Vu and Tam Le were the other students on Harvey’s championship team.

“It’s very exciting,” said BVM academic coach Tricia Cox. “We’re really proud of them. They worked really hard for months. It’s our first win so we’re really excited. We’ve never won before. We practiced twice a week for four months.”

Cox said she and her students prepared for the tournament by going over current events and then coming up with questions they felt might be asked at the tournament.

Sample questions asked in the rounds included questions like “Who is the mayor of Philadelphia?” (Answer: Jim Kenney), “Which country borders the USA directly south of Texas?” (Mexico) and ‘Which is greater two-thirds or three-fifths? (two-thirds).

However, the final and semi-final rounds focused more on current events. Questions asked included, “Who is leading the investigation again Donald Trump’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election?” (Robert Mueller), “Name one of the two U.S. senators from Pennsylvania” ( Bob Casey or Pat Toomey), and “Who is Pennsylvania’s attorney general?” (Josh Shapiro).

There were three levels of questions: those worth five points if answered correctly, 10 points and 15 points. The first team to reach 100 points won the round.

Teams from seven area schools — Visitation BVM, St. Laurentius, Alexander Adaire, Our Lady of Port Richmond, La Salle Academy, Alternative Middle Years at James Martin and Hackett Elementary — fielded anywhere between one to four teams in both the varsity tournament, which consisted of fourth and fifth graders, and the junior varsity tournament, which consisted of second and third graders.

St, Laurentius, whose team consisted of students Alexa Harr, Andrew Zimmerman, Luca Nolano and Joyce Szczurek, defeated Our Lady of Port Richmond in the junior varsity game by a score of 100–60.

“It’s amazing,” Szczurek said when asked how it felt to win the junior varsity competition. “I’ve never made it past round two, so it’s a big change.”

Szczurek said she and the rest of her team practiced by staying inside during their lunch periods to practice questions they felt they might be asked during the tournament.

“Me and my team stayed inside and practiced for the entire lunch period,” she said.

St. Laurentius coach Dolores Griffith said it was “wonderful” to win the junior varsity competition.

“It [feels like the] hard work has paid off,” she said. “And the kids are great. Each one of them brings something special to the table.”