Amesbury students to compete on 'High School Quiz Show'

Courtesy photo/WGBHAmesbury High School juniors Melissa Andolfato, 16, Alice Dragnea, 16, Liam Keleher, 17, and seniors Ellie Costello, 17, and Adrianna Ayers, 17, will join 15 other academic teams from across the state to compete on the 10th anniversary season of WGBH’s “High School Quiz Show.” 

AMESBURY — For the second time, a team of six students from Amesbury High School qualified for WGBH’s “High School Quiz Show,” which will begin filming in January.

Juniors Melissa Andolfato, 16, Alice Dragnea, 16, Liam Keleher, 17, and seniors Ellie Costello, 17, and Adrianna Ayers, 17, will join 15 other academic teams from across the state to compete in the 10th anniversary season of the program.

The 16 schools selected received the highest scores on an oral quiz at the Super Sunday qualifying event held earlier this month at WGBH’s studios in Brighton. These schools will compete in the next phase of the competition when episodes are taped in January.

This will be Amesbury High’s first appearance on the show since its first season, said Kathy Beaudoin, a science teacher at the school who brought the program to Amesbury.

For 10 years, Beaudoin has served as a coach for students who compete on the show. The top 16 teams will advance to the televised, single-elimination tournament that determines a state champion, she said.

The students have been practicing their trivia skills, which, on the show, range from sports to pop culture to random facts.

They are all members of academic clubs at school, including the math team, science team and Model United Nations. On the show, two high schools will face off at a time and will be asked the same 50 questions. The team that answers the most correctly will move on to compete against the next team, Beaudoin said.

“I love watching ‘Jeopardy!’” said Costello, who was an alternate last year alongside Ayers. “It’s fun to play trivia with friends.”

This year, Amesbury High School students earned 785 out of 1,000 points, said Beaudoin, who added that the highest-recorded score is 885 points. To study their trivia and facts, Dragnea said the group watches old seasons of “High School Quiz Show” in addition to other game shows.

“It’s all about strategy and working as a team and how they communicate between one another,” Beaudoin said.

When asked why they decided to join the Amesbury team, students said their high school does well in sports, however, they would like to show off more of their academic talents as well. Amesbury High’s math team, Costello said, placed first in several competitions over the last few years.

“Our school is really focused on sports,” Andolfato said. “We’re definitely the underdogs. It’s just nice to get the school out there, especially since compared to other schools, we’re a lot smaller.”

Amesbury High Principal Elizabeth McAndrews said she is eager to see the students put their knowledge to the test while representing the school.

“It’s fantastic, I’m so proud of them,” McAndrews said. “I’m appreciative of the years Kathy has taken teams and attempted to qualify. I’m just so excited that the opportunity to compete and be recognized for the good work that our kids do and our teachers do.”

Other competitors include Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Advanced Math & Science Academy in Marlborough, Andover High School, Belmont High School, Boston Latin School, Brookline High School, Hingham High School, Lexington High School, Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Needham High School, Seekonk High School, Somerville High School, South High Community School in Worcester, Thayer Academy in Braintree and Westford Academy, according to WGBH.

The season will culminate with the Interstate Invitational, featuring the “High School Quiz Show” state champions competing against New Hampshire PBS’ “Granite State Challenge” state champions, the “High School Quiz Show” Rhode Island state champions and the “High School Quiz Show” Maine state champions for the final title, said Emily Balk, a spokeswoman for WGBH.

The program premieres on WGBH 2 on Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. 

Amanda Getchell covers Newburyport and Seabrook. Follow her on Twitter @ajgetch.