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Scholars and nerds across the kingdom have yet another reason to celebrate as students from the Philippine School Bahrain (PSB) scored top honours at the World Scholars Cup (WSC) Global Round in The Hague, Amsterdam.
The annual WSC, which takes place in a regional, global and championship round, brings together scholars from 51 countries to compete in a series of academic, yet fun, team competitions and collaborative activities aimed at developing critical thinking, debate and writing skills.
The competition, themed “A world at the Margins”, started this year in February at St. Christopher’s School in Isa Town, where students from across the kingdom competed to qualify for the Global Round. Every team features three students.
The senior teams from the PSB excelled, placing third and fourth in Bahrain. Their junior team also qualified for the next level.
Althea Jamon, 13, from the junior team, said: “It was difficult to find time to prep and all of us did not always place the same emphasis on the competition. Some of the other teams even had sleepovers but despite it all, we still managed to pull together in the last stretch before the competition.”
The PSB squad prepped for the Global Round with high school principal Ivy Jan Simbala and their team coach Melanie Cruz.
Much of the knowledge base required for the global rounds is already part of the students’ regular curriculum but as they sharpened their debate, writing and quick wiz recall skills after school every day utilising tools like Kahoot quizzes and regular writing sessions, they also found their team fabric strengthening, even if their timetables didn’t always match.
Teammate Jathniel Perez sheepishly added: “Yes, I was not always on the ball, but my teammates were quite patient and we did revise the material, even if it wasn’t always together.”
The global round in The Hague, which was held at The World Forum, was a whole new level of competition, as 1,900 of the smartest students from around the globe, came together to put their best debate, writing and general knowledge feet forward, while managing to sneak in some fun as well.
The programme at select Global and Championship rounds also include community events such as a scavenger hunt, a ‘nerd-prom’, a cultural fair and flag march, all guided by founder of WSC and alpaca-in-chief, Daniel Berdichevsky.
Elleyah Ballano from PSB’s senior squad, Team 223, said: “It is quite intimidating because you know you are competing against the best from the regional rounds.”
Her teammate, Ira Manaog, added: “But it also pushed us to be even better. You get this adrenaline and excitement that you never thought you’d have for, you know, actual school. It makes you realise how interesting academia can actually be. I definitely want to do it again.”
The writing and debate portions of the competition included topics based upon the theme. There is also a collaborative writing component where teams sit together and write three essays on separate topics from three of the six subjects including social studies, history, science, art, music, literature and a special area (which, this year was about Unsolved Mysteries).
Grant Amandy, from Team 223, said: “After I joined the WSC in 2017, it improved my speaking and debate skills as well as my team writing skills. I was intimidated the first time but this time, with the aid of my team, I felt much more confident. It pushed us all to the edge of our academic prowess and uncovered new talents and skills that we never thought we had.”
The PSB squad scored 11 gold and 22 silver medals in the Junior section and 74 gold and 53 silver medals in the Senior section, ranking second in the Middle East and 16th globally, amongst all the schools that participated.
More importantly than the awards, the teens got to socialise with international students from all walks of life and a plethora of cultures.
Danah Abdulaal, from the junior team, said: “When we did the scavenger hunt, each team had members from all over the world. My team had members from China, Canada, Korea, Vietnam and Kenya. It was interesting meeting all these different people and seeing how culturally we are different, yet we are also very similar.”
Ranamae Malubay, who competed in the Seniors category, added: “WSC strives for diversity and inclusiveness and over just a couple of days, you meet the top students from all these different countries many of which you have only ever seen on a map before.”
Gydabelle Navel, the acting director of PSB added how proud the entire school is of the students as they not only represented their institution but the entire kingdom as well. Gydabelle said: “We are eager to see them on the international platform.”
The qualifying teams from PSB are now preparing for the grand finale, the Tournament of Champions, which is going to be held at Yale University from November 8 - 13.