3 county high schools match wits at Hi-Q competition

EVERETT — It was brain power instead of athletic ability that scored students from three Snohomish County high schools seats at the popular table Tuesday morning at Archbishop Murphy.

The students took center stage to show off their smarts in the regional Hi-Q championship. A crowd packed into the gym to watch the Wildcats defend their two-year title against Monroe and Arlington high schools.

Their peers donned dweeb gear and sported signs in support of competitors in the nation’s oldest continuous quiz contest. Some had taped glasses while others wore highwater pants with suspenders in a Steve Urkel-like fashion.

“It’s ‘Dress Up Like a Nerd Day,’” Shannon McCannon, spokeswoman for Archbishop, said. “Everyone really embraces these meets.”

Hi-Q coordinator David Korkowski urged students to enjoy the endorphin rush that comes with answering questions in the academic challenge correctly.

“That’s what we’re celebrating today — the things we know,” he said.

Hi-Q teams came ready to field questions in 13 subject areas, such as math, current events, chemistry, Shakespeare and art history. Students study for months in anticipation of the event.

“My life was consumed by Hi-Q. It gets really intense,” said Sam Byrne, a junior on Archbishop’s team. “When you know the answer, you feel really good. But if you don’t, you start to panic.”

Competitors had 15 seconds ticking on the clock and four chances to answer correctly before the other teams took their turn to offer the right response.

“When you get to buzz in, you feel on top of the world,” said Allan Wang, a Monroe freshman. “It’s a rush knowing the questions.”

As school tradition mandates, Monroe’s team brought bobblehead dolls of Star Wars characters for good luck.

Spectators clapped, stomped and cheered the competitors on. At half-time, all three teams were tied.

One student in the crowd said he had not known any of the answers so far. Another said he wouldn’t trade places with any of the competitors.

Teachers smiled, laughed quietly and whispered among themselves as they watched students face tough questions.

While teams answered most questions seriously, they couldn’t help making joke guesses with a few inquiries that left them clueless. One such question asked for the name of the 1947 U.S. Supreme Court case that decided whether imposing the electric chair a second time after a failed execution attempt was cruel and unusual punishment under the Constitution.

Monroe got a laugh when it guessed Darth Vader vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The judges were looking for Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. Resweber.

After a close hour-long match, Archbishop conquered its challengers, capturing the state title for the third year.

“We definitely got some lucky breaks but it really was about the hard work we put in,” Archbishop senior Kennedy Hagen said.

The Wildcats now turn their cerebral energy toward winning the national competition, which is scheduled to take place via Skype in April.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

Sample questions

1. In protecting the rights of skilled workers, one of the major goals of Samuel Gompers and the American Federation of Labor was to enter into trade agreements with companies to exclusively hire union workers. Give the other name by which this agreement is known.

2. Identify the sheath of fatty material that covers and serves as an electrical insulator for the outgoing pathways of many neurons.

3. The U.S. Men’s basketball team won gold in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, beating Spain by only seven points. Give the final points score for the U.S. team.

4. In the short story titled “Life in the Iron-Mills” by Rebecca Harding Davis, give the last name of the Circuit Court Judge who sentenced Mr. Wolfe to many years of hard labor in a penitentiary.

5. Located southwest of Rabat, the largest city in Morocco lies on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Give the name of this city.


1. Closed shop

2. Myelin

3. 107 (Spain had 100)

4. Day

5. Casablanca

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