ORHS Students Take On The Granite State Challenge

With questions ranging from old language literature to New Hampshire specific questions, six Oyster River students took on the Granite State Challenge on November 18th. 

The TV show, the Granite State Challenge, gives high school students the opportunity to test their knowledge on trivia questions with a broad range of topics on science, math, English, sports, history, and more. To qualify for competing on TV, each team from the 39 New Hampshire schools that are involved must get enough questions right on a qualifying exam. The six ORHS students who took the qualifying exam this past Thursday prepared through past trivia questions and memorizing their top 10’s, and are in hopes of competing on television soon. Their results of 76 correct answers out of 100 questions on their qualifying test placed  them in the Wildcard tournament.

About two weeks prior to the qualifying test day, the team met after school with English teacher John Monahan to answer old trivia questions. Through these questions, the team was able to pick up on patterns in the questions as well as the type of questions asked. Some students also prepared by learning more about the topics asked in the competition. Ben Montgomery (‘22), said “I tried to familiarize myself with all the U.S. presidents and what order they served in. Also, even though literature isn’t my favorite subject, I tried learning about some of the most famous poets and writers.”

Another member on the team, James Li (‘24), also enjoyed his experience with the challenge and the practices, although he originally didn’t plan on joining. “I just walked into one of the practices to see what it was like because I had another club meeting [that] was later.  I just got a couple questions right and everyone thought I was really good at it.” 

The actual qualifying test took place on November 18th at 7:00 am. The formatting was similar to the practice questions they had experienced beforehand, making the test easier than the team expected. Montgomery said, “the practice questions from previous years were definitely helpful, as there was some overlap between those and the questions we had [on the qualifying test].” 

As a team, Dillon Labonte (‘22), explained that they all worked well together on the qualifying test. “We were all contributing so it worked out really well. We even worked through some that we didn’t think we knew but we ended up getting them right through the process of elimination, so overall we were a good team.” 

The practice and hardwork the team put in allowed them to score a 76/100. Monahan said, “I am hopeful our 76/100 score test will break us into the top 36 who make the tournament.” 

A day after the exam, November 19th, the results were in. Oyster River was initially ranked in the top 14 teams to play in the challenge and the team was excited. However, about an hour later, Monahan got news that another school’s score was scored late which knocked Oyster River out of the tournament and into the Wild Card teams. This would mean that Oyster River would have to compete in a non-televised game against another school before getting a spot in the television show. 

Li expressed his disappointment for not making it into the tournament right away. He said, “I thought we did really well [on the qualifying exam] so it’s sad we didn’t make it into the cut and we have to do the wildcard game.” 

However, Monahan remained optimistic and said, “I think we’re strong enough to battle a team for a spot.  We did it last year.” 

Like Monahan, Labonte is simply excited to continue competing. He said, “I’m not gonna be mad about it or annoyed or anything, but now we get another opportunity to beat another team.” 

Although the team might not have made it into the tournament right away, they have enjoyed their time working together and are hopeful to continue doing so. Montgomery said, “I enjoy working in a team that incorporates everyone’s specific skill-sets and knowledge. It also gives you satisfaction for the random thing you somehow remember.” 

Labonte agreed and said, “I just liked doing trivia questions. During Flex when we went to Mr. Monahan’s room we would just do practice questions for both Flexes and it was just so fun.” He continued, saying that it was fun to do the “actual qualifying test and just being able to apply it for a purpose.” 

As for preparing for the Wildcard tournament taking place on December 11th, Labonte explained, “I’m sure we will still keep going to Flexes [to go through practice questions] and stay in contact with Mr. Monahan which will all resume after Thanksgiving break.” If Oyster River wins the Wildcard tournament, the four students with the highest accuracy from each team will then be well on their way to the televised tournament.

Artwork by Sofia Sarzosa