Quizbowl team buzzes into live TV


Richard Oeur

The Chantilly quizbowl team, consisting of Freshman Xavier Lewandowski, junior Haley Oeur and junior Griffin Lewandowski, placed second in a live “It’s Academic” show on April 22 in Rockville Maryland.

Tyler Ellison, Assistant Features Editor

“3…2…1… and we’re live.”
The stage lights up as the CHS “lt’s Academic” quizbowl team prepare themselves for “It’s Academic” while being filmed for TV in Rockville, Maryland. The three students, junior Haley Oeur, junior Griffin Lewandowski and freshman Xavier Lewandowski, competed against McLean High School and BASIS Independent McLean on April 22.

The club’s sponsor, Latin teacher Stacey Kenkeremath, has prepared the team for this event for months on end. Kenkeremath has been involved with quizbowl and “It’s Academic” for over eight years.

“I don’t like having my picture taken or being recorded or anything like that,” Kenkeremath said. “But I just remember to say to myself ‘it’s not about me, it’s about them.’”

Starting in 1961, “It’s Academic” was first broadcast in D.C. and has since come to occupy, as their website describes, “a remarkable place in the history of television.” Since its debut, the show has spread across the nation and provides an “arena of academic achievement” for students.

The rules of the game are simple: three teams of three students race to buzz in and answer toss-up questions, ranging in subjects from literature to geometry. The team that buzzes in first and answers correctly gets to solve a series of bonus questions for extra points. Whoever scores the most points at the end of four rounds wins and moves on to the next round.

The quizbowl team competed in a previous show on January 28 and placed first, where the rules were slightly different due to the participants filming virtually rather than being on set. In their most recent show, the team experienced the real deal and drove to Maryland to participate in front of a live audience and dozens of cameras.

“I was stressed to some extent because, I mean, it’s TV,” Griffin said. “But the experience was really interesting. It definitely gave me a close up look at how actual TV productions are filmed.”

The quizbowl team placed second at the in-person filming on April 22. Kenkeremath stated that many of the questions came down to who could buzz-in the fastest, rather than who knew the most, and as a result, there wasn’t much room for improvement.

“The three of them are just incredible and between them, there’s nothing they don’t know,” Kenkeremath said. “And sometimes, they all answered at exactly the same time, which is pretty funny.”

Back at school, quizbowl meets every Wednesday to practice questions for local competitions. Practices typically consist of going over previously-used questions and focusing on categories the team may struggle with. The questions, while still containing typical high school subjects, stretch beyond what might be learned in the classroom. While quizbowl meetings have a large focus on preparing for competitions, many members also enjoy the relaxed environment the club offers.

“I already knew some people in the club, so I decided to give it a shot,” junior Spencer Read said. “Then I learned that it’s actually a really chill club. Although it’s a lot of smart people, you aren’t necessarily spending the entire time trying to think and strain your brain.”

Although quizbowl involves formal competitions, Kenkeremath’s priority is making sure all the members have a good time. Quizbowl provides a different pace in comparison to many traditional clubs and sports.

“I want everyone to have fun, so if we win, great, if we don’t, we’ll try again,” Kenkeremath said. “Though I think we should have leather jackets.”