Clark Magnet High School Scholastic Bowl team members Jacob Minasian, John Azizian, Saro Meguerdijian and Sayonika Mohanta congratulate each other after winning the 21st annual Glendale Unified Scholastic Bowl.

Clark Magnet High School Scholastic Bowl team members Jacob Minasian, John Azizian, Saro Meguerdijian and Sayonika Mohanta congratulate each other after winning the 21st annual Glendale Unified Scholastic Bowl. (Tim Berger/Staff photographer)

Clark Magnet High School Monday won its first ever Glendale Unified High School Scholastic Bowl, besting Hoover, Glendale and Crescenta Valley high schools in a friendly academic competition that annually pits some of the district’s best students against one another.

“It feels great to win,” said Clark Magnet senior Saro Meguerdijian. “It is a desire accomplished.”

Members of the five-member Clark Magnet team trained during their lunch break every day for months in preparation for the scholastic bowl. The competition requires total focus, the victors said.

“I was very nervous [about] getting the questions correct,” said Clark Magnet senior Sayonika Mohanta. “I wanted to make my school and my parents proud.”

The event drew approximately 350 people to the auditorium at Glendale High School, which rang at every correct answer with the celebratory whooping and hollering of supportive friends and family.

“It is an opportunity to celebrate the learning of students in a variety of subject areas,” said Glendale Unified Assistant Supt. Katherine Fundukian Thorossian, who served as contest director. “It is exciting to see students compete in academics. We see it so much in athletics.”

Monday’s quiz portion of the competition was the second part of the two-phase scholastic bowl. Earlier this month team members participated in an essay contest in which they had 60 minutes to outline what the United States’ official stance should be on the ongoing protests in cities in the Middle East and northern Africa. The Clark Magnet team won the essay contest with 38 points. The Glendale, Hoover and Crescenta Valley teams each scored 36 points.

The quiz portion consisted of two rounds. In the first, the team members were permitted to consult with one another and then responded as a group. In the second round, each participant responded individually, using a buzzer system.

The questions, posed by KNBC weatherman Fritz Coleman, tested the students’ knowledge of social science, language arts, math science and fine arts. They were asked to solve algebraic equations, decipher palindromes and define literary terms such as “oxymoron.” They were prompted to identify names of songs, composers and artists. And they were quizzed about World War II airplanes, Anna Nicole Smith and George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.”

After working in a news environment often dominated by the likes of Charlie Sheen and other ill-behaved celebrities, helping to celebrate academic excellence is a thrill, Coleman told the students.

“People in Egypt and Libya and Yemen and Bahrain just want what we have brought to fruition here,” Coleman said. “No one will stop you from forward momentum in this country, and it is a wonderful honor and privilege for us to live in a country where this is allowed to happen.”

Clark Magnet held the lead throughout the evening, finishing with 84 points. Hoover High School, led by senior Erica Bogosian, made a late charge but was unable to close the gap, finishing with 78 points. Crescenta Valley and Glendale high schools finished with 69 and 63 points, respectively.

The members of the winning team each won a $500 scholarship, as well as the scholastic bowl trophy, which will remain at Clark until the competition next year. The second, third and fourth place finishers received $250, $150 and $100 respectively.

“The kids worked really hard this year,” said Clark Magnet team advisor Susan Newcomb. “I felt they really deserved it. And they won by a good margin.”