High school teams on Quest to victory

Christine Collins

Two high schools battled it out Sunday in a local trivia game, but unfortunately only one could move on to the next round of competition. Shawnee Heights High School suffered a 370-190 loss to Leavenworth High School in Quest.

Quest is a high school trivia game televised weekly on KTWU. Washburn University and KTWU-PBS cosponsor the contest. Quest allows teams from high schools across Kansas to compete by answering a series of trivia questions. Topics include language arts, history, foreign language, fine arts and sports.

Every December a qualifying round for Quest is held at Washburn. The top 16 teams are chosen and go on to compete in elimination rounds that are televised weekly. The competition winner will be announced in June.

Holly Wetmore, a language arts and film instructor at Shawnee Heights, was the sponsor for the academic bowl team that competed Sunday. According to Wetmore the Shawnee Heights team is fairly young, consisting mostly of sophomores. It is a voluntary club for which students can sign up. Rounds of questions are given to determine a varsity and junior varsity academic bowl team. Four students and two alternates, for a total of six members, are then chosen to compete in Quest.

“Our school has always gone for the qualifying day but didn’t make it last year,” said Wetmore. “I just wanted them to have fun. They deserved to get there.”

Dena Anson, director of university relations and Quest coordinator, said the show is great publicity for high schools across Kansas and builds a great foundation for teens.

“It’s a great resumĂ© builder for them,” said Anson.

According to Anson, during the televised competition each team has the opportunity to answer approximately 60 questions but only has three seconds to answer each one. There are two rounds. At the beginning of each round is a toss-up question. The team with the correct answer gets a chance to answer an additional three questions to build up their score. After the two rounds is the lightning round. During the lightning round each team answers approximately 20 questions. At the end, the team with the most points is declared the winner and moves on to the next match.

Quest was formerly known as High Q. The show has been around since 1983, but when KTWU took over production in the 2005-2006 school year they renamed the show Quest.

“They wanted to give it a new identity,” said Anson.

Quest is also broadcast on the Wichita PBS station KPTS, which benefits Washburn.

“Its great exposure for Washburn,” said Anson. “That’s PR you can’t buy.”

The next installment of Quest will bring Topeka West High School and Lawrence Free State High School together. It will air 11 a.m. Sunday, March 16 on KTWU Channel 11.