Many thanks from one member of the high-school academic-bowl community for Jason Roop's "'Battle' Hardened" (News & Features, Jan. 29). Too bad it took the demise of "Challenge 23" to bring some recognition to a program that has provided a wonderful opportunity for many central Virginia students to have fun while learning and possibly earn scholarship money for their schools and the highly coveted championship cake for themselves.
In the interest of setting the record straight, I'd like to correct a few misstatements in the article. After joining in the 1980-'81 season, Mr. Soden was the sole moderator for 11 seasons, but he was not replaced by Bill King. Rather, the two of them served as co-hosts for two seasons (1992-'93 and 1993-'94), with Mr. Soden alternating with Mr. King from week to week. In 1994 Garet Chester was brought in to add some levity to the proceedings, but his antics tended to antagonize the contestants, not simply amuse them. May-Lily Lee came onboard in 1996 and promptly brought some calm and genuine cheerfulness to her role as moderator.
As for Mr. Soden's fondly recalling "John Rowe, a student from St. Christopher's," no one by that name has ever attended the school. I believe Mr. Soden was remembering Barry Disney (St. Christopher's class of 1985), whose amazing ability to recall facts enabled St. Christopher's to win two "Battle" championships in the 1983-'84 and '84-85 seasons, during Lee Camp's tenure as team coach.
John H. Harris
Editor's Note: The writer is assistant coach of the academic team at St. Christopher's School.
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