I'll Take 'New York City Public Schools' For $500
Beginning Monday, two New York City public school teachers will compete in the first "Jeopardy!" teachers tournament.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Even if you are the reigning champion of your neighborhood bar's weekly trivia night, rest assured you're probably still no match for two of the city's smartest factoid geeks.
Two New York City public school teachers, Matt Polazzo of Manhattan's Stuyvesant High School and Catilin Milat of Brooklyn's Achievement First Apollo Elementary School, have been selected to join 13 contestants in a two-week teachers' trivia contest on "Jeopardy!"
Polazzo, who is from Brooklyn and is the father of two, said he has long been a trivia fan. He competed in a game show called Quiz Kids Challenge when he was a high school freshman.
"Actually, when I was a kid I watched ["Jeopardy!"] all the time with my father, and I filled out a ton of postcards to try to get on the team tournament but I didn't work out," he said. "I didn't think anything about it for 15 years until recently when I was just like, 'What the heck, might as well give it a go.'"
The tournament, which has already been shot in the show's California studios, will air on ABC from May 2 to 13. Polazzo and Milat had to promise "Jeopardy!" they would keep the results of the game a secret from their students until the shows are broadcast.
Polazzo, 35, teaches AP History and Western Thought at Stuyvesant. Milat, 22, started teaching kindergarten nine months ago at Achievement First Apollo Elementary after working as a reporter at The Daily News. They got onto the show by scoring exceptionally well on a quiz on the "Jeopardy!" Web site. The other contestants are teachers from eight other states and Washington, D.C.
During the taping of the tournament in California, Milat said the pressure was on.
"When you're under the lights and there's a buzzer in your hands, and Alex Trebek is staring in your face, it's not as easy you think it is," she said. "The buzzer is actually really tricky to work. That was the hardest part of the experience."
"Jeopardy!" has featured a slew of student competitions in the past and tested young brains during Kids Week in 1999. But this will be the first time the game show has committed to show off the smarts of the nation's brightest educators.
“Educators play such an important role in guiding and inspiring our young people to reach their full potential,” said Harry Friedman, the show's executive producer. “We thought it was time to honor teachers with their own tournament.”
Friedman said some of the show's best contestants in the past had been lawyers, students and teachers.
The winner of the teachers' tournament gets $100,000 and a guaranteed spot in the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions, which will air later this year.
"Jeopardy!" has some nine million viewers. The show was created in 1964 by Merv Griffin, airs around 7 P.M. and was hosted by Art Fleming, and then by its current host, Alex Trebek.