Do you think you are smarter than a New Hampshire high school student? If you compare yourself to the brilliant students that competed in this year’s “Granite State Challenge” on New Hampshire Public Television, the answer is probably not!
Unitil is proud to be the lead sponsor of “Granite State Challenge,” a beloved quiz show that brings New Hampshire’s top high school academic teams head-to-head in a battle of brainy bragging rights. The game emphasizes quick recall of factual material in all major disciplines—math, science, social studies, language arts and fine arts—along with a mix of questions about current events, entertainment, sports and regional topics.
We recently interviewed three members of this year’s champion team from Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, New Hampshire –Timothy Morrison, Holly Boivon, and Zachary Deming– and their coach, Lisa Larochelle, about their experience on the show and how they prepared for the challenge of competing on TV.
How did it feel to win the Granite State Challenge this year?
Lisa Larochelle, coach (LL): The team was really excited, especially because they came so close to winning in the final games last year. It was really a match up right down to end. The team was almost all the same, except for one student, so it was almost like a rematch. They really worked hard for this win.
Holly Boivon (HB): It was a really awesome feeling; especially since the Quiz Bowl team at Bishop Guertin was just recently restarted. Having this much success as a relatively new group is really exciting for us.
Zach Deming (ZD): It was a very good feeling. We’ve spent a long time studying and preparing, so it felt good to see the hard work pay off.
How did you prepare for the competition?
LL: We got together as a team once a week for about an hour to practice and have a business meeting. The students also did a lot of reading to prepare on their own time.
Tim Morrison (TM): As a group, we meet every week and practice answering questions and buzzing in. Also, we’re all fairly inquisitive people by nature, so we do a good amount of reading in some of these subjects independently.
What is the best part about coaching this team?
LL: I would say watching them come together as a team by the end of the season and really mesh together was the most gratifying thing to see as a coach.
Do you have any words of advice for future coaches, or students?
LL: Just do it for the fun and really enjoy the competition. If you focus less on winning and more on having fun, the success will come with it. That’s exactly what this team did this year and I could not be more proud of them.
HB: Don’t be afraid to get involved because you think you’re “not smart enough.” Just spending time at Quiz Bowl had given me so much more knowledge than I had at the beginning of the year, and I think that it’s a great opportunity for students to put the information they learn in the classroom to use.
ZD: Even if you just have an educated guess, it’s often worth buzzing; more often than not, you’ll get the point, and beat the opponent out in the process.
Why did you decide to join the team?
TM: A group of friends and I started Bishop Guertin’s Quiz Bowl Team in the fall of 2013 during our sophomore year. Personally, I had always enjoyed shows like Jeopardy! And Granite State Challenge, as well as academic-based games and activities, so it just seemed like a natural fit.
HB: I am a freshman this year, but I have been involved in the team since last year, when I went to several meets to watch them compete. I was a contestant on Jeopardy Kids Week when I was in 7th grade, and I love trivia and academic competition.
How did you feel when you heard the show would be returning again this year?
TM: We were thrilled, especially after having such a fun season last year and making the finals in our first season of competition as a group, which we certainly did not expect to do.
ZD: I was very pleased. I think the Granite State Challenge is entertaining both for participants and viewers, to say nothing of its value as an outlet for students like myself who might be interested in competing in a more academic activity.
What did you enjoy most about being a part of this team?
HB: I love how we can work together and have a great time even while we’re focused on the competition. Since this is my first year, it was also really cool for me to play with teammates who were on GSC last year and knew how everything worked.
ZD: Mainly, I enjoyed being able to compete at an enjoyable activity with a group of people that I knew well. The GSC is excellent because you get the bonding experience of a team sport without all that dreadful physical exertion.
Do you have a favorite moment from the Season?
TM: I am a huge fan of movies, so I was particularly excited when there was an entire category on classic movie quotes during the Governor’s Cup! Similarly, the Granite State Challenge question on Orson Welles was a fun one.
HB: Traveling to Boston after winning GSC to compete against the Massachusetts state champions for the Governor’s Cup was a lot of fun. The moment when I realized that we had come out on top in that game was probably my favorite. I was so proud of what we had accomplished as a team.
What was the most challenging during the competition?
TM: Each team we played was very talented and made for a nerve-wracking game, but I think the hardest match was probably the Governor’s Cup because we had to become acclimated to an entirely new format. Also, AMSA, the opposing team, was remarkably talented and nationally ranked in Quiz Bowl. That match definitely proved quite challenging and could have gone either way.
HB: We are less experienced than most of the teams; with three juniors and a freshman on our GSC team, we hadn’t all covered as much material as some of the teams with older students. Additionally, this is only the second year of the reestablished BG Quiz Bowl program, so we have had to work hard to earn the reputation we have in such a short amount of time.
ZD: Based on my experience this year, I think that the thing I’ll have to work on the most for next year (providing that we qualify) is my reaction time.