SMUS’s Club Hub: Reach for the Top


SMUS students have access to a wide variety of extracurricular opportunities that interest them. We offer more than 100 fun and rewarding clubs or councils that provide students of all ages with leadership experience, skill development and a chance to contribute to life on campus and in our greater community. The SMUS Review is currently highlighting these extracurricular activities and the passionate students who get involved.


Do you know who designed the Winnipeg Mint? Or the capital of Luxembourg? Or the chemical formula for stannic oxide? Or which famous jazz trumpeter had a cameo in the movie “Scrooged”?

All of our brains hold random bits of trivia. Reach for the Top harnesses all those memorized facts and information across a broad spectrum of subjects, and turns it into a friendly-yet-competitive quiz competition. (Reach for the Top was a popular CBC game show from the 1960s through to the 1980s. Teams of students competed against other schools, seeing which school could earn the most points by answering trivia questions. The competition still exists in Canada, it’s just no longer a game show.)

Last weekend, the SMUS team attended the provincial Reach tournament in Vancouver and won 6 out of 7 games, to finish in 5th place in B.C.

Today, the SMUS Review sits down with Grade 12 student Nathan High, who participates in SMUS’s Reach for the Top club.

Why did you join Reach for the Top?
Nathan– I just heard it was fun and got reeled into it one day and it ended up being really fun. It’s a skill you have to pick up over time because you have to buzz in first if you want to answer the question; a lot of it has to do with buzzer speed and trying to figure out the question before they’re finished asking it. I think I’ve gotten to be really good at buzzer speed.

What does being in the club entail?
We meet at lunch every Monday and Friday, and mostly it’s just a casual practice. We just go through questions from previous years and do fun competitions.

What was the provincial competition like?
It’s a semi-competitive tournament; some schools are more competitive. We take it more fun. Coming in 5th, we were pretty happy with that. My personal goal was to do better than some of the really competitive teams, and we did succeed at that. In the tournament, you get to put four people up per game, and we have a pretty big team so we have to rotate through people and try to get everyone up there.

Is there any strategy to that?
Because we practice, you get a sense of what areas certain people know, so you try to stack your team so that you have people who know as many categories as possible. But it’s very broad – there were questions about pop music and there were questions about 19th-century conflicts. You don’t know what the categories are going to be though, so you can never guarantee that you’re going to have someone who knows.

How do you prepare for the competition?
I’m sure you could study, but I don’t. The practice questions we do help you learn tidbits as you go along. There’s almost always Lit 12-type questions, and you can always rely on history and geography-type questions being there. It’s more about who you have up there to cover the most areas of semi-expertise. But you can sometimes expect certain questions. If it’s an author question, almost always someone will guess Margaret Atwood; if it’s a Prime Minister question, there’s a bunch of safe guesses – the Prime Ministers people know; if it’s a question about anything to do with Red River, someone will instantly buzz “Louis Riel.”

Were there any memorable moments during the provincial competition?
One of my teammates, Harrison, spent a bunch of time memorizing the moons of the solar system – and that actually paid off. It came up in the tournament. One of the questions was, “What’s the biggest moon in the solar system?” He was pretty pleased with himself.

What do you enjoy most about Reach for the Top?
It’s just a really fun activity where you can use the information you’ve picked up and also learn new things passively. It’s a light, competitive game that I’m fairly good at, and it’s an enjoyable format. The questions go by quickly, there’s a lot of them, and if you get one wrong there’s not much of a penalty.

Would you recommend other students join Reach for the Top?
Definitely. We need new people to come out, with a bunch of Grade 12s leaving this year. It’s a super fun activity, where you’re not required to commit heavily. And unless you don’t enjoy trivia, there’s really no reason not to. It’s the best!

Photo by Kyle Slavin


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