The competition begins. Melody’s team competes first, and Melody, with her alternative answer board, is given a special introduction. The teams do a quick practice round, and then the real questions begin. Every student on Melody’s team has different strengths and weaknesses—Connor misses most of the spelling questions, and Melody has trouble with math—but Melody’s team wins the first match 81 to 77 points. Backstage in between rounds Mr. Dimming congratulates Melody on her success. Rose also tells Melody what a good job she’s done, and Connor acknowledges that Melody beat him on some of the questions. More teams compete over the course of the evening, and in the end Melody’s team has the second highest score, and must go back on stage to compete in the final round for a chance to travel to the Whiz Kids Championships in Washington D.C.
Everyone on Melody’s team has different strengths and weaknesses. Intellectually, their strengths and weaknesses have nothing to do with their physical bodies, and the fact that every teammate is different (and so their strengths complement one another) is what allows them to perform so well in the first round of the competition. For the first time, Melody feels like a valuable member of the team, as opposed to an outsider who happens to be competing with her classmates.