Staples’ Quiz Kids

Take “GE College Bowl” and “Jeopardy“; mix in Cablevision 12 news anchor Tom Appleby, and what do you get? “The Challenge,” a low-rent but surprisingly compelling high school quiz show.

Last weekend, Staples participated in Round 2.  If you were otherwise occupied on Saturday or Sunday night, here’s what you missed.

The jacket-and-tie-clad Wreckers — Naveen Murali, Dan Fishman, Victor Hollenberg and Josh Rosen — faced off against the polo-shirt-wearing, mixed-gender squad from Stratford’s Bunnell High.

Staples' team - Cablevision News 12's "Challenge"

In the opening round, Staples correctly answered questions like “how many votes does Washington, DC have in the electoral college?” (3 — I would have said 0). They identified the author of Coming of Age in Samoa as “Margaret Read,” then quickly corrected it to Margaret Mead — but Tom disallowed the answer.  C’mon — how many high school students can even locate Samoa on a map?

It didn’t matter. After the first round, Staples led 140-120.  Go blue-and-white!

The lightning round followed — each team had 60 seconds to answer up to 10 questions.  The Bunnell Bulldogs chose the “Fantasy Character” category. One of their girls was on a roll, identifying the likes of Gandolf, Oompa-Loompas and Merlin the Wizard.

Staples drew the category “Comedic Films.” Proving that very smart kids have time for movies (too much time?), they nailed 9 of 10 — including “A Prairie Home Companion,” “Madagascar,” even “Dr. Strangelove.”  But after two rounds their lead was still just 20 points: 185-165.

The next round included questions about colleges. Naveen knew that Tuskegee is in Alabama; no one from either school could place Oral Roberts in its correct state of Oklahoma.  But Staples correctly identified the iron-rich chemical substance in red blood cells that that unites with oxygen as “hemoglobin” (yay!), and instantly calculated the length of the radius if a circle has an area of 225 square centimeters (I forget).

After three rounds it was Staples 305, Bunnell 195.

Which brings us to the final round.  The scoring system is too complicated to describe; suffice it to say Our Boys knew that Gerald Ford’s widow is named Betty (“the clinic,” one said in a stage whisper); that Robert Gates led the CIA under the first President Bush, and that the space shuttle in the 2003 disaster was called Columbia.

Just like that, it was over.  We — I mean, Staples — annihilated Bunnell to win handily, 415-220.  They advance into the next bracket, but the pressure’s on.  Everyone wants a crack at the number one public high school in the state.  The Wreckers will have to bring their A — er, A+ — game.

2 responses to “Staples’ Quiz Kids

  1. Jim Goodrich

    It has been my good fortune to act as the “advisor” to this group of very bright and capable students. For two years I’ve been riding the train with them to the competitions. Each time we make the trip, passengers in their vicinity connect with them because of the high level of conversation and the way they continually challenge each other by asking their own interesting questions.