Each year, high school teams from across Massachusetts vie for a spot on the public television program “High School Quiz Show,” where they match wits with other high school teams. This year, Nantucket High School was selected for the first time, and they recently traveled to Boston to tape the show.
Gathering in the breakfast room of a Hyannis hotel, the students looked slightly nervous, but ready for the long day ahead. They wore khaki slacks and navy blue sweaters emblazoned with the Nantucket High School logo.
Social Studies teacher Peter Panchy serves as team coach.
“We’re excited to be doing this,” he said, “we’ve had a lotta fun, and this is a great group of kids. And we hope to go forward.”
Every high school in the state is invited to compete for a chance to appear on “High School Quiz Show.” The first 100 schools to respond are given verbal tests, and the lineup is then whittled down to 16 schools. This year, Nantucket High earned one of the coveted slots. Panchy said part of the competition involves correctly answering questions on a variety of topics, like history, science and current events.
“There’s also a head-to-head, where one of our students will go against one of their students. There’s a category section that is more like ‘Jeopardy,’ with varying point values. And then there’s a timed lightning round,” Panchy said.
Team member James Ryderman said they practiced by going over sample quizzes to see who could answer the fastest.
“We did some practice with head-to-head rounds,” Ryderman said, “but that was a little bit iffy, so we’re hoping we do a little bit better than that.”
Ryderman’s teammate Adam Pucker was also cautiously optimistic.
“We’re looking forward to hopefully doing well. And we’re actually going against Mr. Panchy’s old hometown, Somerville. So we’re not sure where his loyalties lie,” Pucker joked.
This will be Nantucket High School’s first time competing on the program. Team member Parker Richards said he knows that puts them a slight disadvantage.
“Anyone who’s at this stage is a very strong team,” said Richards, “and I know Somerville’s been here before. We haven’t. But I think if we really put on our best effort, and if the chips fall the right way, we could probably pull it out.”
One of the trickiest parts of the competition is mastering the technique of buzzing in to answer a question. Spanish teacher Kate Hickson, who’s also the team’s Assistant Coach, says contestants aren’t allowed to buzz in until the entire question has been asked, even if they know the answer right away. So they have to improvise in order to practice.
“We have these cheesy little buzzers that we bought just to get used to doing that,” she said.
Depending on how well the Nantucket High School team does, they may be repeating the trip to Boston for further rounds of competition. The “High School Quiz Show” episode that was taped on Saturday airs March 8th.