Keystone Oaks School District News Article

KO competes in a battle of brains

On Saturday, September 12th 2015, myself and two other seniors, Jarod Cheslar, and our captain, Conor Tokarsky, were given the opportunity to represent Keystone Oaks High School at a taping of Hometown HighQ, hosted by Rick Dayton, at KDKA studios in downtown Pittsburgh. Though we ultimately came in third place, the experience of being in a television studio and interacting behind the scenes was undoubtedly unique.
The series began during the 1999-2000 season, being part of a larger, local television broadcast of differing formats throughout the United States. The show airs each Saturday morning at 11 a.m. and features three teams of high schools within the station's coverage area who compete against each in answering Jeopardy-like questions related to high school subjects. This year, our high school competed against challenging groups from Homer Center and Thomas Jefferson. The show consists of multiple individual and team rounds, beginning with the “Start Smart” individual theme round, which, for us, consisted of answers that each related to baseball terminology, followed by the “Database” team round, “Pix File” individual round where each question is accompanied by a picture aid, “Advantage” team round where correct answers for eight questions result in a bonus point total, and finally ending with the “Quicktime” individual round.
After a rocky start, Jarod, Conor, and I went into Quicktime with a considerable disadvantage, but were able to make a remarkable comeback, finishing with a solid 400 points, not far from second place Thomas Jefferson and first place Homer Center. Keystone Oaks has been featured multiple times over the course of the last few years, with few wins but notable successes. The teams are chosen from our high school’s Academic Quizbowl Team, a club sponsored by Physics teacher Michelle McSwigan who prepares students for Hometown HighQ through the attendance of various quizbowl competitions, most of which are held at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University during the fall and winter seasons.
Each competition features a format similar to that of the show, where trivia-like questions are presented to two teams, each of which must fight against a buzzer and a timer to garner points. The subjects range from classical literature to high level math, history to politics, and art to pop-culture. The club and the competitions associated with it are not only great ways to test your knowledge, but provide a means for learning new things as well.
As Jarod states, “participating in academic team has been such a great experience for me, as I’ve learned so much from practice and competition that I haven’t in school.”
No matter how much you know, each competition is sure to teach you something new. Our club meets every Monday after school, where we practice reading old quizbowl questions and battle against each other using buzzers. The first competition of this year will be on October 31st at the University of Pittsburgh. Interested students should see Mrs. McSwigan for details, as membership means the potential of being on next year’s airing of Hometown HighQ! If you missed the episode Conor, Jarod, and I were recently featured in or would like to get a feel for the types of questions we faced and magnitude of the competition, the show will be available online soon at

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