GREENSBORO, N.C. — Brain power, quick thinking, and teamwork!
The Early College at Guilford in Greensboro brought home another national Quiz Bowl trophy in April.
The team placed in the Top 10 Open Division NAQT Small School National Championship, and their state quiz bowl championship record is also one to beat.
Leading this team is 17-year-old Miles Kirkpatrick.
"We go in, play, and usually win," Kirkpatrick said. "We won our state championship NCASA the last three of the last four years, and we are usually pretty competitive at any tournaments in the region."
To give you an idea of how hard it is to win back-to-back state championships, the Quiz Bowl record shows no other North Carolina small school has done that.
"I'm a history specialist. Mostly U.S. History, U.S. Political History, Western History, post the 1700s. Eric is our science and the math guy, and he also covers fine arts and operas," Kirkpatrick said.
Teams go head-to-head, answering questions from all areas of knowledge.
"From history to geography to a lot of science, there is also pop culture, or because we are Quiz Bowl players, we call it trash. But it is any pop culture, sports, that kind of thing. You're good enough to play if you're good at any of those," Kirkpatrick continued.
He's good enough! Kirkpatrick has participated in Quiz Bowl competitions since middle school at the Academy of Lincoln in Greensboro. He ranked in the top ten percent at the National Individual Quiz Bowl competition, 80th out of more than 880 kids.
He played basketball and baseball but hit it out of the park with scholastic sports.
"I think I started doing Quiz Bowl just because I was bored one day, and I saw it on the list, and I said, I’ll go do that," Kirkpatrick shared.
His teammate Zoe Auld has been on the same Quiz Bowl team since they were 12.
"Miles came in 8th grade, and he was terrific. I had been kind of the top player at Lincoln at that point, and I think certainly by the end of 8th grade, he was way ahead of me," Auld said.
His mother, Tonya Kirkpatrick, says her son has always been inquisitive.
"He always has asked a million questions since he was younger up until, well, not now because he thinks he knows everything. He would just read and dive into books, and his thirst for knowledge was incredible," she said.
In his quest for knowledge, Kirkpatrick would often search the Quiz Bowl competitions for someone in the room who looked like him.
"In the past two years, I've seen one team with a Black player on their team," Kirkpatrick said. "When I saw him last year, it was a big moment for both of us."
He shared that moment with his teammate.
"That's something we talk about a lot, and last year I remember he came up to me so excited that he had found another Black person at nationals, and that is something that I think about for him," Auld said.
Kirkpatrick's mother said it's had an impact.
"It's disheartening not to see a lot of representation, and we've talked a lot about this over the year. We started noticing immediately that there were not a lot of kids that looked like him. If anything, I think it is driving him even more. He wants to represent and represent well, especially for young Black men," Tonya Kirkpatrick shared.
His team at the Early College at Guilford is diverse.
"We have a Hispanic player, an Indian player, and an Asian player. You don't see that often, so other teams look at us, but we're also really tall, but that's a whole different thing. But then we sit down, play, and usually win," Kirkpatrick said. "That feels like I've proven to the other teams doubting us that we still got it even though we don't look like the other team we're playing against."
No one doubts his drive for learning. His 4.4 GPA and top honors helped him achieve his dream of attending an Ivy League college.
"I applied to UNC Charlotte and got in. UNC-Chapel Hill and N. C. State; I got in. George Washington University. Got in. Morehouse. Got in. Duke. Got in. Columbia. Got in. Yale I got in, and I'm going. Princeton. I did not get in, but I won't talk about that. So, I'll say I got into 8 schools for the record," Kirkpatrick said.
He's off to Yale and, to everyone's surprise, without a scholarship.
"If I did my math right, which again, I'm not the math guy, but it's $120,000 or more which is money don't have in my back pocket," he said.
His mom explained how scholarships work.
"If you work hard, you'll be able to go to school for free is not necessarily true. They do not give merit scholarships at the Ivy level, and I understand that because everybody there is smart or gifted," Kirkpatrick's mom shared.
She explained students who typically get full rides to Yale, Columbia, or Harvard, for example, usually receive a need-based scholarship.
"Since we're middle-income, we will have to split that with Yale," Kirkpatrick's mom continued.
School counselors say this often happens with smart kids going to Ivy League schools. Auld is going to Georgetown in the fall without a scholarship too.
"No merit scholarship I applied for some merit scholarships but didn't think I got any," Auld said.
We can argue money is a big thing, but Miles is using his experience to fund a different mission. He's been working on getting financial backing from some Greensboro community members to give other kids resources, books, and exposure to mock tournaments to drive interest in Quiz Bowl competitions. He told us he wants to mentor students who look like him so they know they can do this too.
His mom told us an announcement about a partnership could come in June.