STANWOOD — As students opened the envelopes with their final question — a math problem they needed to answer in one minute — the home team was 10 points ahead of the nearest competition.
Stanwood High School added to its score, already enough to seal the victory, by solving the equation before the other two teams. A student buzzed in and answered “108 feet,” hastily tacking on a “square” to the measurement.
Stanwood hosted the regional Hi-Q championship Monday morning. Students from Marysville Pilchuck and Monroe high schools joined them on the stage of the performing arts center. Several hundred of their peers watched the match.
In Hi-Q, competitors are provided with study materials and spend months preparing. During matches, teams of students try to answer correctly and quickly in subjects such as current events, history, science, math, sports and literature.
“It’s a great way to represent your school,” said Henry Johnson, 17, a junior on the Stanwood team.
It was a redemption story for Stanwood, the students said. They came into last year’s championship with the highest score in the region but lost the trophy to Monroe High. Monroe, the defending champions, couldn’t catch Stanwood this year. At the end of the match, a Monroe student handed the trophy to the Stanwood team.
The final score Monday was 39 points for Stanwood, 25 for Monroe and 23 for Marysville Pilchuck.
Kicking off the match, Stanwood and Marysville students added points quickly by answering questions about the opioid epidemic. Stanwood snagged an extra point by knowing that naloxone is the drug carried by emergency responders to reverse overdoses.
Monroe got on the board by correctly answering multiple U.S. history questions. In the sports category, only Marysville knew that Fiji won its first-ever gold medal at the Rio Olympics in summer 2016.
Both teams did well in math but struggled to remember details from plays by William Shakespeare. No one scored points in chemistry. However, Stanwood increased its lead during the physics questions. The teams all answered correctly on world history queries about Confucius, Hinduism and Chinese leadership in the third century B.C.
“I am blown away by the brilliance of everyone on that stage,” Stanwood coach Carrie James said.
The championship wrapped up the regional Hi-Q season. For students returning to the teams next year, though, studying likely will resume soon, said Dave Korkowski, Everett region Hi-Q coordinator. The list of study materials is released in May.
“If you’re a team that’s going to win … you go home with homework,” he said.
Hi-Q requires extra studying on top of regular school work, students said after the match. But it’s more fun than people realize. Usually, teams split the workload, and each member picks a subject or two. That lets them focus on what interests them most.
“Just do it,” said Jeffrey Rahman, 16, a sophomore on the Stanwood team. “Anybody can do it. All it takes is time and effort.”
The students from all three teams gathered to visit after the match. As Marysville and Monroe students left some time later, the Stanwood team wished them well.
“See you next year,” James said.
Then she rallied her team for a group photograph.
“Look at me,” she urged, “not the trophy.”