PESHTIGO — For the second year in a row, the Peshtigo High School Hi-Q team will be making an appearance at nationals.
The team of seniors Tyler LeMahieu, Waleed El-Jack and Russell Salmen; juniors Katrina Salmen, Jess Nadolny and Olivia Smith, and sophomore Zach LaMahieu scored a total of 72 points to take first place in the championship round against Marinette and Oconto on March 8-9. This gave the team the right to compete in the National Hi-Q Competition March 30, which will be live-streamed from UW-Marinette.
“We’re so proud of them,” said co-adviser Jackie Lemire. “To be back in this position for the second year in a row, it’s not an easy place to get to.”
So what is Hi-Q? Cindy Birch, co-adviser to the Peshtigo team, explained it as “A highly competitive academic challenge.”
Hi-Q is the oldest continuing academic quiz competition in the United States that was established in Delaware County, Penn., in 1948, according to the website of Farmers & Merchants Bank & Trust’s , who is the principal sponsor of the competition.
“There are three rounds of competition during the regular Hi-Q season that begin in January each year,” the website stated. “Each team competes once in each round, and three teams appear on stage in each contest. At the conclusion of the first three rounds, final rounds are played consisting of three matches - one semi-final and two finals. The semi-final match will be hosted by the third highest scoring team from the first three rounds. This team will compete against teams four and five. These three teams will start with zero points and compete for the third place spot.
“The winner of the semi-final contest will then compete against teams one and two (the first and second highest scoring teams of the first three rounds). Again, these three teams will begin with zero points. Teams one and two will each host a final championship contest.”
Subjects covered throughout the competitions include: American government, American history, art history, biology, chemistry, current events, geography, literature, mathematics, physics, Shakespeare, sports and world history.
Students divide the subjects evenly amongst the team. Questions can be asked from any of the study materials, which can include whole books or chapters, that was given out at the beginning of the season.
“There’s a lot of pressure because they’re the experts in their field,” Lemire said. “It’s not like a sports team where a lot of the time the whole team feels it, if you don’t get your question right, you definitely feel it.”
Birch said one of the most difficult aspects about studying is not knowing what questions will be asked.
“That’s the tough part,” she said. “You think you know what questions will be asked, then they’ll throw one out of no where. I think that’s what makes it fun, but it also makes it frustrating. You fell like you’ve got all this prepared, then somehow they find something you don’t know.”
Going into the championships, Marinette held first place standing, while Peshtigo was second.
“Championship week was stressful,” Smith said.
“Every point we earn counts,” said Katrina Salmen.
On the final day of the championships, the team won on its home turf.
“When we won at home this year everybody went nuts,” Nadolny said. “You’re representing your school, so you have to do well.”
The entire team agreed that hearing the crowd cheering was one of their favorite things about the competition.
“It’s exciting to have a gym full of people cheering you on like they would at a sporting event,” Lemire said. “I think as a coach, the most exciting moment is when you know they have the correct answer. In some ways it does feel like luck of the draw because they might have hundreds of pages of material memorized and then they get on question on it. It’s all of the prep work for that one moment.
Birch said the match was very challenging.
“You’re facing two very strong teams and we really earned first place,” she said.
It’s a huge commitment to be a member of the Hi-Q team, Lemire explained.
“A lot of it comes down to motivation, it really does,” she said. “It how motivated you are; how badly you want to win.”