Seminary students know there is an art to breaking in a new copy of the scriptures. The Ada Branch of the Norman Oklahoma Stake demonstrated the technique at a Super Saturday.
At the beginning of the seminary year, Jim, Alice, Chris, and Santee purchased brand-new copies with a sturdy black cover of imitation leather, designed to withstand being handled, used, held, and opened quickly in scripture chases; studied in cars on the way to Super Saturdays; and carried to class. When new, the pages stick together a little around the edges until fingers are slid between to separate them. Ada Branch’s scriptures had no sticky pages.
But still a few more refinements need to be made. The Norman seminary has a rule against using tags or bookmarks for marking references, but if in the heat of a scripture chase competition your book just happens to fall open to the right place because the page has been wrinkled, that’s fair. The pages are high quality, tissue-thin paper designed to resist tearing. They can withstand a little wrinkling. Of course, if you don’t know the reference, you won’t know which wrinkled page is the correct page. So Ada Branch was studying hard, learning references.
Seminary scriptures reach their ultimate usefulness when the student knows the feel and form of his own book so well that in looking up verses, it responds like a well-oiled instrument, an instrument of learning.
The Bibles of the Norman Oklahoma Stake seminary students were well oiled with use and study. Hands were itching to flip the pages to the correct reference. Students were on their toes while sitting down. It was Super Saturday with three favorite seminary activities—scripture chase, seminary bowl (which combines a New Era bowl with seminary lesson review), and a dance.
A Super Saturday in Oklahoma is like Super Saturdays all over. Seminary students drive miles from all over the far-flung stake and gather to compete and get to know each other better. During the car ride to the stake center, students quiz each other on past seminary lessons and recent copies of the New Era that might be used for questions in the seminary bowl. They create memory hooks to remember scripture references. “For the scripture about clean hands and pure heart,” said Chris Wade of the Ada Branch, “just remember palms to remind you of Psalms.”
“How am I going to remember the reference for the scripture that says, ‘I know that my redeemer liveth’?” asked another member of the Ada Branch team.
“I know how we can remember,” said Santee Wade, also of the Ada Branch. “Since it’s Job 19:25–26, how about this? I make 25 to 26 dollars an hour on 19th Street at my job.”
Making the extra effort to get an edge over their competition means extra study. One girl was overheard saying, “I studied every minute I could this week in between classes at school.” Since seminary is either held early-mornings or taken by home-study, it’s hard to get together with your team to review. Chris and Brad Hammock of the Noble Ward recruited their mother and sister to give them clues about things they studied in seminary and read in the New Era.
Competition is fun for these students, and, as Lana Lazenby, Norman Second Ward, put it, “It makes everyone study harder.”
The competition, held at the stake center, is split between two rooms. Home-study seminary students first compete in scripture chase while the early-morning students are holding a seminary bowl. The bowl competition consists of three teams of four with substitutes coming in and out between questions at each captain’s discretion. On the table in front of each student is a box with a button and a light. A quick tap on the button sounds a buzzer and lights the light. The first one to hit his button gets to answer the question. If he is wrong, then the buttons are reactivated and the other teams are given a second chance to answer.
The director asks a toss-up question. The team member that pushes the first button must answer the question without any help from team members. If the answer is correct, then the team is given a bonus question and the team may confer before giving the answer.
As each team seemed to gain momentum, the questions and answers flew fast and furious. “What project were the youth of the Bountiful Stake working on in the New Era article entitled ‘Captains of Ten’?” “Who became leader of the Israelites after Moses?” “What was the theme of the message by Elder Thomas Monson in the New Era article called ‘Crisis at the Crossroads’?” “Name the first five books of the Old Testament.” With good-natured groans at answers that just missed the mark and cheers with correct responses, the competition was exciting. After competing for her team, Marcia Garrett, Shawnee Ward, said, “I think this is great. But I read everything that they didn’t ask.” And Sandra Johnson, also of the Shawnee Ward, was plagued by a problem that many experience when under pressure. “With all these questions, my mind went blank.”
One team that did well had prepared. “We were hot,” said Melissa LeBlanc, Noble Ward. “We’ve been practicing on questions for the past few weeks.”
Although Danny Ellis’s Noble Ward team didn’t win the bowl competition, he summed up the feeling of many of the participants. “We got beat,” said Danny, “but we didn’t lose.” There are no losers when students are learning about the gospel.
At the Norman Oklahoma Stake Super Saturdays, competition is good-natured and fun. It’s a chance to review seminary lessons and get to know other members of the stake.
How to Hold a New Era Bowl
A New Era bowl is competition between two or more teams consisting of four members each. Questions based on selected copies of the New Era are asked by a moderator, and the first person from any team to answer correctly scores a certain number of points for his team. The team is then entitled to answer a bonus question. The team members may confer about it, but the answer is given by the captain.
Organization. The bowl should have a moderator who asks the questions, a judge who decides if an answer is adequate, a timer/scorekeeper, and as many teams of four as can be comfortably accommodated. If too many teams want to compete, perhaps two bowls could be held.
Game Apparatus. The ideal situation is to have an arrangement of buzzers with lights and a button in front of each contestant. When the first light is activated, it electronically exempts all other lights and buzzers from working. If this type of equipment is not available, the first person to raise his hand would be called on. The judge would decide whose hand was up first.
Time. The bowl can be held in two halves of about ten minutes each. Substitutions to teams can be made quickly only between questions, but the clock is not stopped. A short intermission of a minute or two can be held in between halves to let the teams relax for a moment.
Scoring. A toss-up question or question open to everyone is worth ten points. The player who hits his button first must answer the question immediately with out help from his team members. If he answers incorrectly, his team is penalized five points, and the other teams are given an opportunity to answer the question. If the other team also answers incorrectly, they are not penalized. The moderator then gives the correct answer and goes on to the next question.
If the player answers the question correctly, his team is awarded the ten points. The team may now answer the bonus question, which is worth five points. There is no penalty for answering the bonus question incorrectly. All team members may confer before the captain answers the question.
The game is over when the time runs out.