Oyster River takes on Winnacunnet in the Granite State Challenge

Do you know which president got stuck in the bathtub of the White House? Or the state tree of New Hampshire? What about the capital of Austria? If you answered Taft, birch tree, and Vienna, you’d be correct. These are just scratching the surface of the questions asked in the Granite State Challenge.  

On January 8th, Oyster River High School (ORHS) will face Winnacunnet in the first round of the Granite State Challenge (GSC) competition. This might be your first-time hearing about GSC—in fact, I hadn’t heard of it until early into my sophomore year, when I just happened to walk into one of the meetings. 16 schools across NH compete in GSC and is aired live through the NHPBS in Durham. Through GSC, my teammates and I have learned many trivia facts and developed other skills like confidence and teamwork.  

For us to compete in GSC, we first had to qualify for the competition. We had to complete the qualifying test, a 100-question test to complete in an hour. Although the test was stressful in the beginning, we realized that we could finish well before the time limit needed. After they are all graded, the top 14 scoring teams move on, while the next four teams have a wild card round. If they win, it grants them a placement in the GSC competition. This year, we placed in the top 14, solidifying a spot in GSC. 

However, the televised rounds are much different than the qualifying rounds. Instead of a team doing a test individually, two teams face off 1 on 1, with 4 team members per school instead of 6. Since there weren’t many people on the team anyway, the switch from 6 to 4 was really easy for us.  

Questions are asked by the host Jon Cannon, who has been host since 2018, and each correct question answered gives the team 10 points. As ORHS English teacher and GSC mentor John Monahan describes, the GSC is “sort of like Jeopardy, but for high school kids.” I’ve never been on live TV before, and I’m a little nervous. But I’m also excited for the experience, and to win.  

Although the idea of winning the tournament is appealing, there are many skills my teammates and I have gained, even if we don’t win. Teamwork is a big part of GSC. During the qualifying round, our team really had to collaborate with each other to get answers. Plus, during the tournament stage, you can also talk with teammates if the other team gets the question wrong.  

Furthermore, being aired on TV can help people with growing their confidence. “[GSC] can definitely give you more confidence onstage because there’s a lot of lights and cameras pointed at you,” said Aaron Eisenberg (‘24), a member of GSC at ORHS. Since freshman year, Eisenberg has been on the team and has been on the show two times.  

Another benefit is GSC isn’t a very time-consuming club. “For GSC, it’s a pretty low effort club. You could definitely play like a sport or do another team and stuff like that,” said Chris Hawley (‘24), another one of the members of the club. Since junior year is pretty busy for me, GSC is a great option to include another club in your life and have time for me to do more extracurricular activities.  

As January 8th approached, the team has been preparing. At least for me, I know I’m going to be looking through a lot of trivia questions and videos. You can watch us compete on the 8th at 12:30pm on the NHPBS YouTube channel. 

– James Li 

Image courtesy of NHPBS