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Thursday, 16 August 2007

Reach for the Top!

By Ronni Prior of Rants By Ronni

Canada has a Jeopardy-style high school quiz show. It's called Reach for the Top, and kids from all over the country compete.

I came from a very small school district. There were only two high schools, and they would send one team between them. Known as "Island Central," the combined Chemainus/Ladysmith team was always eliminated in the first round.

The year I was a senior, I had the great honour of being selected to represent my school on the Island Central Reach for the Top team. Along with Virginia Bock. That was the time somebody handed me the Complete Works of William Shakespeare on a Sunday afternoon and said, "Read this by Wednesday."

(As a side note, I did, and still can't distinguish between Twelfth Night and The Tempest.)

Well, the long and the short of it was that the combined team won the first round. The audience was pretty sparse, Chemainus being a basketball town, and not used to winning at Reach for the Top.

Several weeks later came the second round. Busloads and busloads of kids were in the studio audience, and many carloads of parents. The team we faced that night was tough competition, but we held our own until the question came up: "Name the member of Parliament responsible for calling in the members of his party to vote on a bill." I hit my buzzer - and blanked.

Of course, the other team answered correctly to tie the score, and went on to win.

I had never been more humiliated in my life!

The next day, Virginia called her boyfriend. They picked me up at the bus stop and we all picked up the alternate at her bus stop, and we spent the day exploring Victoria. Not one of the three of us showed our faces at school.

Nothing was ever said, by the school administration or our parents.

I have never forgotten, from that day to this, that the Member of Parliament responsible for getting his party in to vote is called the Whip.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I understand, Ronni! I was always my school's representative for the Regional Final in the Nat'l Spelling Bee and I can still tell you to this day what words deprived me of a trip to Washington D.C. to this day. The year the son of one of my dad's coworkers was in the finals with me, he yelled at me all the way home --like I didn't feel bad enough already! Sigh. Funny how that stuff sticks with you.


As Kay commented, it is strange how the embarrassments of life stick with you. Why must we re-live those moments and torture ourselves once more? Whatever the reason, it's still humiliating. I have a few of my own I could share. At least, you did get something out of your experience, Ronni. You learned the name of the member of Parliament very well.

Ronni, I remember Reach For The Top. In my high school, the students chosen for the team were usually Honour Society members -- we still didn't do very well.

If it's any consolation, you're probably the only one who remembers this incident in such detail (I've had my own embarrassing moments and I'm quite sure no one else remembers them in such red-faced humiliation).

I was surprised to see the show is still running!

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