By Anna Pluff and Kimberly Walsh
Imagine having to compete in front of cameras as you answer a series of questions “Jeopardy Style.” That is what selected members of the Double Down Team were up against. Chosen by Principal Paul Gasparini, juniors Anyi Liebler-Bendix, Almighty Bornfreedom, Matthew O’Connor, Kate Norton, and sophomore Ben Wormuth all had the chance to represent Jamesville-DeWitt High School in the sixth season of WCNY’s game show “Double Down.” Once on the air, they competed against 32 other schools in New York.
The competition is officially sponsored by BlueRock Energy, which is a provider of electricity and natural gas products. The prize awarded to the winners of this fast-paced academic show is the BlueRock Energy Scholastic Award trophy for their school. In addition, BlueRock energy will award the winning school $1,000 and a $200 U.S. Saving Bond for each member of the winning team.
With stakes this high, it was understandable that some of the contestants were a little nervous. Combine that with the fact that they were filmed and questioned on the spot and most would shake in their boots. Unfortunately, there was no way to really “prepare” for the show. Liebler-Bendix, Bornfreedom, and social studies teacher Lauren Patton all compared the competition style to that of “Jeopardy,” because the questions consisted of “knowledge (that) you have already,” says Bornfreedom. However, the team did watch old episodes of prior shows to get a feel for the competition.
O'Connor was the only member to say, with confidence, that he was not nervous at all. This was thanks to prior involvement on the team the year before. Yet O’Conner still agreed that it was difficult to prepare for the questions, since it is very difficult to anticipate what they are going to ask you.
All the other team members were first timers. Each admitted to a different fear. Bornfreedom said he felt nervous and a bit fidgety, because he “had never been in front of cameras like that before.” Liebler-Bendix feared she would slip up, and make a fool of herself in front of the others. Wormuth felt unsure, especially because contestants didn’t know what film would be broadcast on television and what parts would be edited out.
Though team members admitted to having butterflies, none succumbed to their nerves. The team proved its strength as they advanced through each round. The competition itself is set in various rounds that the participants have to qualify for. In order to advance, each contestant must answer as many questions as they can within a set period of time. Day one of the competition is set so only the top 16 teams advance from the competition to what is known as the “television rounds.” During these televised rounds, two sets of school teams compete against each other in four different types of rounds. The teams are asked a wide variety of questions falling under categories such as art, literature, sports, current events, science, math, and history/geography. Each correct answer is worth a various number of points, and in the end the team with the most number of points wins.
“I can't tell you exactly how far the team made it as the show is still airing on WCNY.” Mrs. Patton explained, but she thinks “the team did fantastically this year.”
The team all agreed that it was an overall fun experience and that they would be willingly to participate again. Liebler-Bendix and Wormuth agreed that the team was really fun and Wormuth also said that the team was challenging, but he learned a lot.
As for next year’s team, some words of advice from Liebler-Bendix are, “Don’t mess up! Also, don’t worry about not knowing the information, because everyone goes in without any prior knowledge so you’ll be fine.”