This February, a team of students from Hillcrest High School won first place at the annual Memphis Police Department (MPD) Crime Prevention Unit’s City Wide Black History Month Knowledge Bowl. The MPD hosted 14 school teams and their families at First Baptist Broad Church, leaning on the help of precinct officers and Neighborhood Watch Coordinators to coach teams and judge the competition. The day brought challenging questions about famous African-American writers, activists, musicians, athletes, and performers.
Six weeks before the competition, Officer Jefferson of the MPD began working and studying with seven young women who comprised the team at Hillcrest. “We divided the seven sections we’d be quizzed on between us,” explained Truck Nguyen, a freshman at Hillcrest. “We each got a few sections to study. I chose history, politics, and military. We studied every day during homeroom time together. Eventually, we uploaded key questions about the topics to QuizList so we could study anywhere, any time.” Nguyen is very proud that all their hard work and studying paid off, and is grateful for all of the time and support of their coach, Officer Jefferson. “She’s wonderful. She keeps pushing us and she helped us study every Monday and Wednesday.”
Officer Jefferson worked with students to understand the structure of the competition and helped them to develop the ability to answer questions quickly--students had the opportunity to answer questions by being the first to click a buzzer. The team who answered the most questions correctly in each round advanced to the following round, where the number of questions and the difficulty increased.
Nguyen is really proud of winning, but found the teamwork to be most rewarding: “I got to really interact with the members on my team. There were upperclassmen on the team, like 10th and 11th graders.”
Hillcrest principal Christina Austin saw the Knowledge Bowl as a great opportunity to serve a group of students who might not participate in some of the clubs and electives historically offered at the school. “This competition was a way to draw our students into the school community outside of what we normally offer, like basketball or dance,” shared Austin. “They’re so smart. They were so excited.”
The Power of Partnership
The partnership between MPD and local schools like Hillcrest is an important part of building a trusting and safe school environment, reminding students and law enforcement alike of what collaboration can achieve. At Green Dot, we know partnerships like this are vital for expanding opportunities for student learning and for gaining role models. We also know how important it is to provide students with engaging opportunities to foster a love for learning, develop confidence, and challenge themselves beyond the classroom.