STANWOOD — The reigning champs are keeping their trophy another year.
In the final round of the Hi-Q academic quiz competition, the Stanwood High School team defended the title Friday in the performing arts center against challengers from Monroe and Archbishop Murphy high schools.
The win felt good, senior Jake Spores said, “like a hot plate of pancakes with about a pound of butter on top.”
Subjects ran the gamut, including American history, current events, Shakespeare, biology, math and sports. Students were given 15 seconds to answer questions. They would receive four points for getting an answer right on the first try, and one less point for each incorrect guess. Once the time is up, the other teams get a shot.
“It can be daunting at first,” senior Henry Johnson said. While the students are given reference materials and are told what sections to focus on, it’s hard to tell what obscure details will appear in the questions.
So they hit the books. Since October, the students studied together, got to know one another and made flash cards. Lots of flash cards.
They also divvied up the workload. For example, senior Peyton Wickstrom took on chemistry, while junior Lily Cunningham proved herself versed in art history.
Leading up to the contest, the Stanwood group was confident. They had to be, coach Carrie James said, or else they might get in their own heads. Students can forget answers they should have easily known, or they could get blindsided by questions they weren’t expecting.
For example, a question from the Agatha Christie short story “Tape-Measure Murder” — asking what time a character had an appointment with a dressmaker — threw students into a fluster. The Archbishop Murphy team desperately threw out numbers, with no care for points being docked: 9:30 a.m.! Noon! 5 p.m.! 7!
Johnson chimed in with the right answer — 3:30 p.m — and yes, he actually did know the answer, he said after the match.
Part of the fun for the audience was the apparent absurdity of the quiz. When the emcee asked the audience if they wanted to guess how many strikeouts, exactly, Hall of Fame baseball player Nolan Ryan pitched in his career, the students could only laugh. One person yelled, “Over 9,000!” None of the contestants knew, either. Ryan struck out 5,714 batters.
Not all questions were so detail-oriented, though. In the geography category, Stanwood was asked about Africa’s largest river. The answer: The Nile.
“That was the easiest question,” senior Peniel Hunt admitted.
“We’re kind of shameful,” senior Logan Ritterbush said.
In the end, there was little drama. Stanwood took an early lead in the first half and they never let go, winning the bout with 34 points. Archbishop Murphy was the runner-up, with 18, while Monroe ended with 15.
On April 5, the Stanwood team will compete in the national contest for the second year in a row. They lost by just two points last year — a Pennsylvania group pulled ahead at the last second.
The Stanwood students, a few of whom were there last year, hope the results will be different. Hunt said she’s nervous. Since the competition’s founding around 1950, a high school from Pennsylvania has won every single year.
The questions will be harder, too, Everett region Hi-Q coordinator Dave Korkowski said. The team won’t be getting another Nile River question.
Can you Hi-Q?
Here are some questions from the Hi-Q championship, put in multiple choice form (the actual Hi-Q contestants just need to know the answer, like in “Jeopardy!”). How do you stack up to the standout high school students, with a little help?
1. Who is the Greek scientist who first measured the moon’s diameter in about 240 B.C.?
2. In 1997, the United States sent what probe to the surface of Mars to gather pictures?
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed the first woman to a cabinet position. She was the secretary of labor from 1933-1945. What was her last name?
4. In William Saroyan’s short story “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze,” how many books did the main character sell so he could have money for food?
5. Aside from the dipole-dipole and London forces, what type of attractive intermolecular bonding type can help explain the physical properties of some liquids?