Bethel Elementary School team heads to state competition
Friday, Apr. 11, 2014

Bethel Elementary School team heads to state competition

Bethel Elementary School’s team celebrates its win in the Cabarrus County Fire and Safety Bowl. From left are, front, students Daniel Stone, Annika Bliss, Kloe Ward, Lizzie Black and Connor Merriman; back, team advisers Carrie Whitley and Joy Lineberger.

Think you know enough about fire safety? Did you know that there are four classes of fires? Can you name a gas that’s used to put out fire?

Take information like this, throw in a buzzer and a bracket, and you’ll get the Fire and Life Safety Bowl, a competition for elementary school students sponsored by local fire departments across the state.

Last month, Bethel Elementary School won the Cabarrus County Fire and Life Safety Bowl, beating out more than a dozen other schools. Now the students are preparing for state-level competition April 29.

Fifth-graders Connor Merriman, Lizzie Black, Kloe Ward, Annika Bliss and Daniel Stone make up the team and are practicing now.

In Fire and Life Safety Bowl, winning teams advance through several rounds of head-to-head competition with other schools. Each round begins with individual and team questions on such topics as fire behavior, emergency preparedness and safety. Then they get out the buzzers.

The buzzer round is the most intense part of the competition, adviser Carrie Whitley said.

As IWhitley reads questions, the Bethel team hits imaginary buzzers, calling out answers, often before she could even finish reading the questions.

The county competition was close, the team said. In the final round against Rocky River Elementary, Bethel pulled out the win 13-11 by correctly answering the final question in the buzzer round.

For these students, their big win was a reward for months of hard work and study. Since January, they’ve given up lunch and recess time to practice together, and each has spent hours studying the book that provides the material they must learn for competition.

After a little break to celebrate their win, adviser Joy Lineberger said the team went back to drilling and studying, even though the students found it a little harder to give up recess now that the weather’s nice.

The team is excited about going to the state competition, but they’re also nervous. Captain Lizzie Black, the team’s only veteran, said Bethel has never placed at the state level, so that’s the goal they’ve set for themselves.

At Bethel, students are selected for the Fire and Safety Bowl team based on how well they score on a test. Daniel, Annika, Kloe, Lizzie and Connor all decided to try for the team because they thought it would be fun, and they were surprised to discover how challenging the material is.

Though none of these students is planning a career in fire safety, their knowledge will not go to waste. Two are undecided about their futures, but Lizzie will be a surgeon, Connor wants to play in the NBA or go into sports medicine, and Daniel plans to be either a lawyer or a judge.

But they all agree that, in the future, they will have really safe homes.

Marcia Morris is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marcia? Email her at

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