IHSA Finals

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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

Dan-Don wrote:I believe the ideal format is 15s, 10s, and -5s. Don't really have a good reason other than I like the way the powers and negs balance each other out in stats. When a player reflexes buzz on some early clue with the slim hope that they know the answer, they're gambling 5 points--this dynamic adds all sorts of interesting strategies and scenarios to the game.
Agreed. Or, i'll say this... i like powers and i like negs, but i do not like them separately. If you're going to have 15s, have -5s. If you're going to have -5s, have 15s.
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Dan-Don »

Carangoides ciliarius wrote:
Dan-Don wrote:I believe the ideal format is 15s, 10s, and -5s. Don't really have a good reason other than I like the way the powers and negs balance each other out in stats. When a player reflexes buzz on some early clue with the slim hope that they know the answer, they're gambling 5 points--this dynamic adds all sorts of interesting strategies and scenarios to the game.
Agreed. Or, i'll say this... i like powers and i like negs, but i do not like them separately. If you're going to have 15s, have -5s. If you're going to have -5s, have 15s.
Agreed.
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Charbroil »

CometCoach72 wrote: I thought Mr. Adkins had it right at the 2009 Springfield Invitational when he did powers, negs, and 10 seconds per part on bonuses. I'm way ok with all of that except the negs. Mr. Adkins and I are of same mind on the subject of negs; I personally believe they don't belong in a high school setting unless you are playing a tournament that has stratospheric credentials attached to it.
There's an entire discussion available on this topic (viewtopic.php?f=30&t=5627), but what's important in my mind is that negs provide an incentive for a weaker team to not buzz wildly early in a question against a stronger team. Without negs, the weaker team would have nothing to lose by buzzing at every early clue that sounds vaguely familiar (since the stronger team would be expected to get the question before them if they waited anyway), which would not only be somewhat annoying, but would keep the weaker team from making well considered buzzes on clues they actually might know (which is a gameplay tendency I think most people would consider preferable).

Edit: Coherance
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by dtaylor4 »

Charbroil wrote:
CometCoach72 wrote: I thought Mr. Adkins had it right at the 2009 Springfield Invitational when he did powers, negs, and 10 seconds per part on bonuses. I'm way ok with all of that except the negs. Mr. Adkins and I are of same mind on the subject of negs; I personally believe they don't belong in a high school setting unless you are playing a tournament that has stratospheric credentials attached to it.
There's an entire discussion available on this topic (viewtopic.php?f=30&t=5627), but what's important in my mind is that negs provide an incentive for a weaker team to not buzz wildly early in a question against a stronger team. Without negs, the weaker team would have nothing to lose by buzzing at every early clue that sounds vaguely familiar (since the stronger team would be expected to get the question before them if they waited anyway), which would not only be somewhat annoying, but would keep the weaker team from making well considered buzzes on clues they actually might know (which is a gameplay tendency I think most people would consider preferable).

Edit: Coherance
The weaker team already has an incentive to buzz early: trying to win the game.

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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas »

Yes, the negs aren't really an incentive to stop buzzing if you know you have no chance in heck of winning already. Our team did this earlier this year against GDS and got 4 negs and 2 powers, but it didn't really matter anyway.
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Charbroil »

dtaylor4 wrote:
Charbroil wrote:
CometCoach72 wrote: I thought Mr. Adkins had it right at the 2009 Springfield Invitational when he did powers, negs, and 10 seconds per part on bonuses. I'm way ok with all of that except the negs. Mr. Adkins and I are of same mind on the subject of negs; I personally believe they don't belong in a high school setting unless you are playing a tournament that has stratospheric credentials attached to it.
There's an entire discussion available on this topic (viewtopic.php?f=30&t=5627), but what's important in my mind is that negs provide an incentive for a weaker team to not buzz wildly early in a question against a stronger team. Without negs, the weaker team would have nothing to lose by buzzing at every early clue that sounds vaguely familiar (since the stronger team would be expected to get the question before them if they waited anyway), which would not only be somewhat annoying, but would keep the weaker team from making well considered buzzes on clues they actually might know (which is a gameplay tendency I think most people would consider preferable).

Edit: Coherance
The weaker team already has an incentive to buzz early: trying to win the game.
Well, I meant buzzing stupidly, along the lines of the freshman method.
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by CometCoach72 »

Thanks for all the suggestions folks. I knew I could count on members of the community to give me something meaningful with which to work.

I have a feeling that whatever is done so far as format goes for Comet Open in 2011-12-13 and beyond, changes will have to be applied gradually.

But, I have digressed from the topic of the forum. Thanks again to everyone- e-mail or PM me if you have further thoughts.
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Captain Sinico »

Charbroil wrote:Well, I meant buzzing stupidly, along the lines of the freshman method.
Yes, surely citing jargon that someone made up will rescue your half-baked argument!

In all seriousness, bad coaches will always vehemently argue to keep whatever they've done in the past because they don't think they can adapt to new or different stuff. I'd say that's an argument for doing basically whatever the hell you want. Certainly there's no perfect scoring format: all decisions at issue (negs/no negs; bouncebacks/no bouncebacks; 2:1 bonus:tossup/3:1 bonus:tossup; etc.) have good arguments in their favor and against them. The only thing I think is indefensible is having whole-bonus rebounding and not part-by-part rebounding if you're going to do rebounding. So basically, your optimal decision really depends what you're trying to do here.
In particular, negs/no negs tends not to matter very much one way or another as the proportion of matches whose outcomes would change due to the introduction or removal of negs is very small*. Viewed another, equivalent way, negs serve to create very small shift in the optimal play strategy for a given question. This is so as getting the question right is worth a potential point difference of twice the value of the tossup/bonus cycle, which is always bigger than the value lost due to the neg (80:5 in ACF formats,) so any smart player will play as though there are no negs. That is to say, really, the cost of getting a tossup wrong is almost all the other team's improved chances at the points and therefore very little the points lost in negs.


MaS

*This does ignore the effect of negs on players, which can be much greater than it ought when players are unprepared. I guess that gets down to coaching again - a good coach will tell their players to just ignore the negs for the reasons cited above. A bad coach will fail to do so and probably blame their players' unpreparedness on the format.
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by jdeliverer »

Captain Sinico wrote:
*This does ignore the effect of negs on players, which can be much greater than it ought when players are unprepared. I guess that gets down to coaching again - a good coach will tell their players to just ignore the negs for the reasons cited above. A bad coach will fail to do so and probably blame their players' unpreparedness on the format.
This is why I think for a novice high school tournament, no negs should be preferable. I know when Latin first attended a tournament with negs and powers, it was discouraging because we were getting no powers and a lot of negs. Now, it's great and it makes for more interesting stats, but I think for teams that may be just getting introduced to good quizbowl it may be something that discourages them. I know it was for me.
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Re: IHSA Finals

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Re: IHSA Finals

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Daily Herald wrote:"They have to be able to think fast and can't be afraid to press the buzzer and be wrong," [Stevenson coach Bruce] Fitzgerald said. "It's a lot like being a relief pitcher in baseball - if they get a hit off you, you have to be able to shrug it off and throw that next pitch."
itt sports analogies will never die
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant »

Daily Herald wrote:Players had 30 seconds or less to calculate complex mathematical equations
"Complex"? Sorry if I'm not up to date on the Illinois threads, but what sort of computational math are they asking here?
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Stained Diviner »

There were a few questions that involved complex numbers.
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by jdeliverer »

Daily Herald wrote:"They have to be able to think fast and can't be afraid to press the buzzer and be wrong," [Stevenson coach Bruce] Fitzgerald said. "It's a lot like being a relief pitcher in baseball - if they get a hit off you, you have to be able to shrug it off and throw that next pitch."
:w-hat:
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Charley Pride »

styxman wrote:
Daily Herald wrote:"They have to be able to think fast and can't be afraid to press the buzzer and be wrong," [Stevenson coach Bruce] Fitzgerald said. "It's a lot like being a relief pitcher in baseball - if they get a hit off you, you have to be able to shrug it off and throw that next pitch."
itt sports analogies die a horrible, gruesome death
Fixed.
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Charbroil »

Captain Sinico wrote:
Charbroil wrote:Well, I meant buzzing stupidly, along the lines of the freshman method.
Yes, surely citing jargon that someone made up will rescue your half-baked argument!
I actually can't take credit for my argument--Dwight Wynne described it here: viewtopic.php?f=30&t=5627#p82294

He also did a much better job of paraphrasing the argument--"Therefore, it seems like the most important function of the neg is to prevent wild aggression, especially by knowledge-poor teams...the neg discourages completely random guessing, because now there is something tangible other than the "utility of not buzzing" being "wagered" on a buzz." (paraphrased from the next to last and last paragraphs of Dwight's argument in favor of negs).
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

If you are looking for something downstate, I might recommend one of the offerings that U of I ABT will make this coming year, or the Springfield tournament (which is usually played on NAQT Questions). If you're really feeling adventurous for a road trip in late January, consider WUHSAC at Washington University in St Louis.
If Wash U is on an inconvenient date, or you just want to take more road trips, there are many more events in Missouri than just WUHSAC. The Missouri Quizbowl Alliance ran good sized tournaments at Villa Duchesne and Parkway Central in St. Louis this season, which we hope to bring back again, and there are other parts of the state with many tournaments if you want to drive further. http://web.moqba.org/ has more information.
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Captain Sinico »

jdeliverer wrote:This is why I think for a novice high school tournament, no negs should be preferable. I know when Latin first attended a tournament with negs and powers, it was discouraging because we were getting no powers and a lot of negs. Now, it's great and it makes for more interesting stats, but I think for teams that may be just getting introduced to good quizbowl it may be something that discourages them. I know it was for me.
One could just as easily use your anecdote to argue that negs should be included by all means so that young players can get used to them (and the idea that there are other formats) for the future. After all, if you'd been exposed to those ideas before you got very used to their absence, you probably wouldn't have been so discouraged.

That's the point you'll always arrive at in these format issues: there are good arguments on either side and they don't really change the game's essence, so decide what you want your tournament to be and use the appropriate format. Actually, though, I do think that makes a good point indirectly. The prime purpose of a novice tournament is to teach and prepare young players, so you can use that end as a guide. It leaves open the question of "prepare them for what?" but that question is always open.

MaS
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by jonah »

A few days ago I sent a letter to Ron McGraw (the IHSA administrator in charge of Scholastic Bowl), Sister John Baricevic, the members of the Advisory Committee from my area (Matt Bardoe from Latin, Yousef Matariyeh from Lisle, and Ken Dentino from Kaneland), David Reinstein, and Rob Grierson. I figured some people here might be interested in seeing it, so I'm providing it below.

I also attached a critique of the questions. It's probably not of interest to most people, because it references specific questions in detail, but if you want to see it, email me and I'll send you it.
I wrote:Mr. McGraw, Sister John, members of the Advisory Committee, Mr. Reinstein, and Mr. Grierson:
As a writer, moderator, former player, and general figure active in the Illinois Scholastic Bowl community, I must express my profound disappointment with the questions from this year's IHSA State Series. In order to provide a good experience for the players, as well as to ensure a fair outcome, it is critical that the questions in any tournament be of the highest quality, and I am sad to say that this year's IHSA set had many problems.

Firstly, the set did not follow the distribution set forth in the IHSA Scholastic Bowl Terms & Conditions ("T&C"), sections VII.O and VII.P, as follows:
*Rounds 1, 4, and 10 each featured 3 computational mathematics tossups instead of the 4 or 5 required by T&C VII.P.8. I understand that there was a typo in the T&C that made the intent of that point unclear; of course, that should be rectified for next year.
*Round 4 had 1/1 chemistry, 2/2 biology, and 2/2 physics, in violation of T&C VII.O.Science.A, which stipulates 2/1, 1/2, or 2/2 of each for a total of 5/5.
*Round 5 had 2/2 chemistry, 1/1 biology, and 2/2 physics, in violation of the same.
*Round 6 had 2/2 chemistry, 2/2 biology, and 1/1 physics, in violation of the same.
*Round 6 had 1/1 U.S. Literature and 1/2 Mythology, violating T&C VII.O.Literature & Language Arts.A.a and .d, which stipulate 2/1 or 1/2 U.S. Literature and 1/1 Mythology.
*Round 7 had 2/2 U.S. Literature and 1/0 Mythology, in violation of the same.
*Round 7 had 2/2 biology, 2/2 chemistry, and 1/2 physics, for a total of 5/6 major sciences; and 1/0 earth science, for a total of 1/0 minor sciences. This violates T&C VII.O.Science.A and .B, which stipulate a total of 5/5 major sciences and 1/1 minor sciences.
*Round 8 had 2/2 biology, 1/2 chemistry, and 2/2 physics, for a total of 5/6 major sciences; and 1/0 astronomy, for a total of 1/0 minor sciences. This violates the same.
*Round 9 had 1/2 biology, 2/2 chemistry, and 2/2 physics, for a total of 5/6 major sciences; and 1/0 health, for a total of 1/0 minor sciences. This violates the same.
*Round 10 had 2/2 biology, 2/2 chemistry, and 2/2 physics; and no minor sciences. This violates the same.
*Round 10 had 1/1 U.S. Literature and 2/2 British Literature, in violation of T&C VII.O.Literature & Language Arts.A.a and .d, which stipulate 2/1 or 1/2 U.S. Literature and 1/2 or 2/1 British Literature.

The set was also riddled with typographical and mathematical errors. Its questions had many restrictions such as "give your answer as a two-word phrase" that served to eliminate alternative answers only by the most trivial means; this punishes players who have full knowledge of a topic but happen not to know the precise name desired by the question, which is unfair. I have presented some of the most overt examples of these problems in the attached document; there are many others.

As a question writer, I must express my concern with several aspects of the IHSA writing process and requirements. Firstly, the category distribution is problematic. Several of the categories simply do not lend themselves to writing appropriate questions: grammar/usage, spelling, speech, agriculture, family and consumer science, driver's education, and industrial arts. I wrote the questions for the last four of those categories this year, and found that it was impossible to write appropriately challenging questions on important academic topics within those disciplines. In some cases I was able to find suitable answers to write about, but would be unable to do so on a regular basis, i.e., in future years or for other tournaments that adopted the IHSA distribution. Regardless of the importance of all of those fields, they simply do not provide the chance to consistently write good questions, and thus do not belong in Scholastic Bowl; those categories should be eliminated.

Additionally with regard to the distribution, classical music history and art history should have equal weights instead of being 1/1 and 2/2 respectively. I suggest the following:
*2/1 or 1/2 visual art history (including sculpture and architecture), and 0/1 or 1/0 art theory or music theory, for a total of 2/2
*1/2 or 2/1 classical music history; and 1/0 or 0/1 opera, jazz, or musical theater; for a total of 2/2
*The total of visual art history and classical music history should be 3/3.
This maintains the extant ratio of history to theory while correcting the imbalance between visual and aural disciplines.

Furthermore, the way IHSA writers work is also simply not conducive to producing the best questions possible. Writers work in isolation and secrecy, without the ability to meaningfully collaborate. They also work separately, when collaboration between similar/related categories (physics and chemistry, chemistry and biology, all the mathematics subcategories, all the literature categories and mythology, all the history categories, etc.) would be much more productive, and would also allow the writers opportunities to learn more. Allowing writers to work together in this manner, in a more open editorial process, would serve the interests of the individual writers, the individual questions, and the set as a whole. Such a model is used for most tournaments produced by groups of writers throughout the country, and it has been shown to work well. In the many tournaments I have edited, I use a wiki-based model for collaboration; it is secure, efficient, free, and reliable. I would be glad to work with the IHSA and/or Sister John to set up such a system.

I have attached a detailed critique of individual questions from the set. Unfortunately, this year the only categories that consistently achieved good questions were physics, astronomy, health, geography, economics, philosophy/political science, British literature, art history, and music theory. The other categories had frequent examples of poor answer choice (generally things that were too difficult for high school or unimportant/trivial), nonpyramidality, transparency, and omission of acceptable alternative answers. I understand that the chemistry and biology in the State packets was laboriously rewritten by Mike Laudermith and Tom Egan at the last minute, and am grateful for it, but the players at Regionals and Sectionals ought to have had the same high-quality experience in those categories. I will be passing along a list of suggested writers shortly, in hopes that she hires as many new writers who can write excellent questions as possible.

Also in the interest of improving question quality, the practice of reading categories before the questions impedes quality. For example, a biology question this year began "This equation...". If the category had not been read, the phrase "this equation" could refer to any of hundreds of relationships in mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, or economics; but there is only one notable equation in biology: the Hardy-Weinberg equation, which was indeed the answer. This problem is called transparency: a transparent question is one that can be answered without having specific knowledge of any clues. Ideally, no categories should be read before the question. However, because some coaches like to keep track of the categories as a strategic move, and reading categories helps some players focus their thoughts, a reasonable compromise would be to read only the major category. Because the distribution of subcategories varies from round to round anyway, this would not affect coaches' counting, and would still provide some focusing for players, while eliminating problems such as this Hardy-Weinberg one.

Finally, the bonus format the IHSA has adopted is a severe impediment to writing good questions. The bonus format that is standard everywhere else in the country sees the reading of the bonus parts (generally three parts) individually—that is, the introduction and first part are read, then the first part is answered, then the second part is read, then the second part is answered, and so forth. This allows something like a first part of "Name the novel that contains the characters of Sydney Carton and Lucy Manette, set against the French Revolution," and a second part of "A Tale of Two Cities was written by this author," which (among many educational benefits) allows the writer to use the answer to an early part in subsequent parts. This avoids awkward wording and results in bonuses that have more sensible relationships among parts (as compared to such superficially-related bonuses as "name these paintings that feature the color green"). The unique IHSA bonus format results in a smaller pool of writers willing to provide them (I have heard from multiple excellent writers who the IHSA would do well to hire, except that they refuse to write in the IHSA bonus format), worse-quality bonuses than would otherwise be possible, and also results in lower quality among tournaments that wish to use the IHSA format but do not have the luxury of a custom-written set (thus having to get it from a vendor who will write in IHSA format, but produces poor questions, because there are no quality vendors who will write in IHSA format). I encourage the IHSA to adopt the standard bonus format (three parts read one at a time) as soon as possible; the quality of questions will inevitably increase markedly if that action is taken. Whether it is or not, I also advocate that the number of bonus parts always be the same, as having different point values for different bonus parts is inherently unfair; my colleague Brad Fischer will be addressing this in a separate letter.

I hope these comments are helpful as we continue to work to ensure that the IHSA State Series uses questions of excellent quality, and provides the best experience possible for the Scholastic Bowl players of all skill levels, coaches of all teams, moderators, question writers/editors, and others. Please contact me if I can be of any further assistance, if you seek clarification, or if you have any questions or comments about my thoughts.

Sincerely,
Jonah Greenthal
IHSSBCA College Liaison
IHSA State Series question writer
New Trier High School class of 2008
University of Chicago class of 2012 (B.S. mathematics)
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by CometCoach72 »

Thank you very much for commenting on the distribution. I was furious when I was expecting a certain distribution to occur and then it didn't. Anyone is free to make light of my "bean-counting" of questions, but by knowing the subcategories in advance, I could substitute in my bench players or know when it was safe to remove my calculus specialist. When that distribution was not followed, it became more difficult for me to know when certain players should be put in the game and give our team a better chance of winning the match. I highly doubt that this could have changed the outcome of our matches, but it is possible a match could have been affected by this development.

I agree wholeheartedly with the removal of the prompts "give a two-word..." because the rule book specifically covers answers that offer extraneous, albeit correct information from players. There's no need for those prompts.

I am hopeful that the Advisory Committee is amenable to changing bonus format for many reasons; I firmly believe that if the bonus format were to change, you would see the quality of the questions increase exponentially. If I had my choice of the issues to discuss, bonus format would be at the top of the list (shorter matches, just as much team collaboration, better questions, etc etc etc). That's the issue that would generate the most controversy among coaches, but I think it's the key to making substantive change in Illinois format.
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Matt Bardoe »

I will be happy to play the role of Coach Reinstein for a moment to repeat.... Please write your thoughts in a polite email to the advisory committee of the IHSA, and Ron McGraw. Especially if you are a coach. Especially if you are a coach of a team that is outside of Chicago. Especially if want things to change. Here are email addresses (in no particular order). I hope this helps. So far I have received two emails. Pile on, please... respectfully.

RMcGraw at ihsa.org
mbardoe at latinschoool.org
ymatariyeh at lisle202.org
Kenneth.Dentino at kaneland.org
cwierzba at dist265.com
baydt at cumberland.k12.il.us
letterly at wcusd15.org
jiorio at cusd4.k12.il.us
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by CometCoach72 »

Thank you very much Dr. Bardoe. This downstate coach is in your debt for providing that information. I'll have something to you (and the others) by the end of this week.
Jay Winter
Greenville HS (IL) Scholastic Bowl Coach and Chief UN Translator for Math
Decatur MacArthur Class of 1990 - Illinois State Class of 1994 - MS Ed SIU Edwardsville 2010
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Stained Diviner
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Re: IHSA Finals

Post by Stained Diviner »

Matt Bardoe wrote:I will be happy to play the role of Coach Reinstein for a moment to repeat.... Please write your thoughts in a polite email to the advisory committee of the IHSA, and Ron McGraw. Especially if you are a coach. Especially if you are a coach of a team that is outside of Chicago. Especially if want things to change. Here are email addresses (in no particular order). I hope this helps. So far I have received two emails. Pile on, please... respectfully.

RMcGraw at ihsa.org
mbardoe at latinschoool.org
ymatariyeh at lisle202.org
Kenneth.Dentino at kaneland.org
cwierzba at dist265.com
baydt at cumberland.k12.il.us
letterly at wcusd15.org
jiorio at cusd4.k12.il.us
The IHSA meeting will take place May 5. A draft of the agenda has already been produced, but it might be updated if new issues are raised very soon. I do not know when the Masons will meet, but it probably will be this weekend or next.
David Reinstein
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)

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