SHS White River Academic League heads to state competition


Natalie Walker

WRAL competitors gather together for a group photo. Back row, from left to right: sophomore Cooper Gannon, seniors Matthew Ritchie, Eli Honey, Nathan Arndt and Tony Jing. Front row, from left to right: junior Natalie Walker, senior Mary Cer, junior Jonah Gotkin and sophomore Sam Shelburn at University High School on Saturday, March 10.

WRAL has been an ongoing club for many years at SHS. WRAL stands for White River Academic League and they are a trivia competition team. Throughout the years that WRAL has been a club, they have grown in more ways than one. After many improvements and progress, they see themselves heading to the state competition to compete.

WRAL sponsor and English teacher Erin Ancelet has been coaching the club since 2014.

She believes that the club has definitely improved in student participation. This year, the club has around 15 members, which allows them to create both a Junior Varsity and Varsity team.

“There have been some years where we barely have five (members) and you need five to compete,” Ancelet said.

The club has many seniors but are trying to recruit freshmen.

A regular club meeting happens once a week on Thursdays and they’ll spend their time doing little games involving trivia questions. Games like Trivial Pursuit and board games with trivia are major activities for the team.

In meetings, they also do a lot of team building activities and work on trusting each other for their competitions.

Different people have different categories, so they are able to do well on tournaments because everyone answers questions that they specialize in.

Ancelet hopes that students are able to learn their strong subjects and what areas they shine in through being in WRAL.

“Maybe they learn that they know a lot more than the common person,” Ancelet said.

She hopes that in the future the club remains in good standing with participation and they’re able to continue having fun while taking competitions seriously.

Senior Matthew Ritchie has also seen himself improve throughout his four years of being in the club. According to Ritchie, the team has not done as well as they have in recent years.

He lacked knowledge in some subjects his freshman year but now finds himself enlightened with random information about a lot of different topics.

Not only did he gain new knowledge about different subjects, he was able to gain more skills and experience in his leadership.

“My skills within quick thinking activities have also improved throughout the years,” Ritchie said.

His favorite thing about being in the club is the friendships and bonds created.

“We can mess around a little bit but still know it’s all in good fun,” Ritchie said.

In the future, Ritchie hopes that they are able to get more people to be involved in WRAL. He also hopes the team continues to do well and continue getting random knowledge about things.

Like Ritchie, senior Nathan Arndt has been in WRAL for all four years of high school. He believes that the steadiness of the team has improved and that having people that are used to working together helps a lot.

“We are able to know each other’s strengths better,” Arndt said.

Arndt has a lot more knowledge about Shakespeare than what he had in his freshman year. He is able to pick up a lot of the information now.

The areas of trivia that he shines in are sports and movies.

“I hope the love of the game continues (for me) in the future,” Arndt said.

Arndt enjoys that WRAL is a thing that everyone can enjoy doing and that it is all about memory rather than skill.

“It’s the best club in the school,” Arndt said.

This year, they got a winning score and will be going to state for a WRAL tournament.

WRAL went to state for the first time since Arndt and Ritchie have been in the club.

“I’m really excited and I’m really proud of the group and how much they’ve grown,” Ritchie said.

As a way to prepare for state, they were practicing every week for about an hour and were focusing on head-to-head gameplay with buzzers, according to Arndt. They play mock matches that help them prepare better.

The state competition was held on March 11 at University High School. They brought all of their varsity students and a couple JV students for alternates.

“Everyone was really excited and we’ve had many practices to keep gaining knowledge in our subjects,” Ritchie said.

Ritchie and Honey smile at each over, giving one another a thumbs up on the bus ride to University High School. (Natalie Walker)

Ancelet is proud of all the students but especially the seniors. During their first couple years on the team, they were not able to get a winning season, unlike this year.

Seniors Matthew Ritchie and Mary Cer discusses answers during a game of Trivial Pursuit. (Natalie Walker)

“To see us go to a winning season and see how far the team has progressed is exciting,” Ancelet said.

Members of WRAL participate in a round of the state competition on March 11. The team went to University High School to compete. (Natalie Walker)