From humble beginnings to triumph

Photo:

Glebe Collegiate’s 2022 Reach for the Top team won the National Championship. Back row, from left: Willow Paraskevas, McKenna Gray, Rowan Watchmaker, Greg John (coach). Front row: Caleb Ott, Micah Colman, Elizabeth van Oorschot, Stuart Chandler-Baas. This year’s championship will be hosted by Glebe June 1 and 2.

 

Glebe Collegiate to host 2024 Reach for the Top National Championship

The 2024 edition of the Reach for Top National Championship will take place at Glebe Collegiate Institute over the weekend of June 1 and 2, with top trivia teams from across Canada competing in Canada’s best-known high school trivia competition. Round-robin games will begin Saturday with the semi-finals and finals on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Glebe’s historic auditorium. Members of the public are invited to attend this fundraiser event.

This is the first time the Reach for the Top championship will be held outside Toronto since 2008, when another Ottawa team – Lisgar Collegiate Institute – won its first national title. It would turn out to be the first of three championships in a decade for Lisgar, cementing the Ottawa region as a major force on the national high-school trivia scene. The rich history and tremendous success of Ottawa high schools is written all over the championship trophy: dating back to the 1960s, no fewer than seven area schools have captured the top prize. Along with Lisgar’s hat trick, Glebe and Gloucester won it twice while Rideau, Hillcrest, Bell and Merivale each triumphed once. In fact, 11 total championships put Ottawa second in Canada, only a single win behind the Toronto region – and miles ahead if considering only schools in the public education system.

Tickets to the semis and final can be purchased in advance at reachnats.com (adults $20, students $15) or at the door (subject to availability), with one ticket getting you access to both semi-finals and the championship final hosted by Ryan Vickers. You’ll see some of the most talented students from across Canada participate in fast-paced, buzzer-beating action, with the proceeds helping to support Ottawa-area high-school trivia programs.

Tickets/info: reachnats.com. Questions: glebereachnats@yahoo.com.

 

Trivia at Glebe Collegiate Institute

By Katherine Silins

 

When I was younger, I enjoyed looking through my parents’ old photos. I distinctly remember stopping at a photo of my dad on what looked like the set of a game show, playing against Glebe, the high school I was expecting to attend. My father explained that it was a photo from Reach for the Top, a high-school trivia competition. At the time, having come off a stint competing in spelling bees, I was looking for my next academic challenge. At the start of high school, and with the confidence of a 14-year-old with nothing to lose, I approached one of the vice-principals to ask about starting a trivia team.

The process was not particularly onerous – all it required was a supervisor. We eventually made a connection with Janice Bernstein, a fellow trivia enthusiast. In 2007, the Glebe Reach for the Top club was officially formed. With some old question packs found in a school cabinet, we met once a week to shout questions at one another, slapping the table to answer until our palms stung. The capital of Zimbabwe and the second stage of mitosis never seemed so important.

The following year, we did fundraisers for our first set of buzzers, which cost $200, a seemingly insurmountable sum! We had bake sales and trivia nights, and even organized a trivia battle against a team of teachers to raise money.

In our first year competing, we made it to the city finals but suffered a heartbreaking loss to rival Lisgar Collegiate for the last qualifying spot at provincials. While this would be our best finish in my four years at Glebe, it helped to spark interest in the Reach for the Top club. By Grade 12, the team had quadrupled in size.

Nearly a decade later, while scrolling through Twitter, a headline caught my attention: “Glebe’s double city champions (juniors and seniors) will be hosting their second trivia night of the year.” Glebe had won the city championship? And the club I got going again 12 years ago was still running? With two full teams? I was elated and sent a screenshot to my family group chat in celebration.

During the pandemic, in the depths of isolation, I discovered a treasure trove of old Reach for the Top footage online and was surprised to see that the 2021 National Championship game had been between the University of Toronto Schools and Glebe! I clicked on the video and jumped straight to the end. YES! – 14 years after I’d restarted the team, Glebe Collegiate was the National Champion of Reach for the Top. The depth of knowledge demonstrated by that championship team floored me, not to mention the calmness under pressure. The win for Glebe – which would turn out to be the first of back-to-back titles –was won on a single tiebreaker question.

If my original Glebe squad had played this collection of trivia whizzes, I suspect the result would have been lopsided – and not in our favour. Personally, I would nail the spelling category and snag the odd math and science question, but I didn’t possess the incredible breadth of knowledge of top trivia players, from geography and sports to pop culture, arts and the humanities. It didn’t bother me that I was an alternate on the team – high-school trivia helped me build leadership, organizational and teamwork skills, and I valued the time I spent with people who thought learning was fun. It gave me a sense of belonging and camaraderie, and it’s rewarding to know that the club I started is helping others feel the same way.

 

Katherine Silins is a first-year law student at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She was the founder of this iteration of Glebe Collegiate’s Reach for the Top team.

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