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HHS team answers challenge on ’High School Quiz Show’

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Education, Featured: Education

quiz show competitors

Hopkinton High School’s quiz show competitors (from left), Alex Stephan, Abhishek Vijay, Ishan Ramesh and Gwen Parduhn, pose with coach Mason Challinor.

The most exciting victory by a Hopkinton High School team this year might have come not on a field or court, but in a television studio.

A team comprised of HHS students Alex Stephan, Abhishek Vijay, Ishan Ramesh and Gwen Parduhn won its opening-round match on GBH’s academic tournament, “High School Quiz Show,” with a thrilling comeback, capped by a buzzer-beating finish.

Hopkinton trailed Andover High School by 30 points with just 10 seconds left in the final round, which consists of rapid-fire questions worth 20 points each (with a 20-point deduction for a wrong answer). The first team to ring in gets to answer.

When the host asked what work by Plato includes the allegory of the cave, Vijay correctly answered “The Republic” as 10 seconds remained in the match.

The final question asked which American saxophonist known as “Yardbird” or “Bird” was associated with the jazz style of be-bop.

Stephan, wearing a “Hopkinton Music” T-shirt, confidently pressed his button with two seconds remaining, and as the buzzer sounded, he answered “Charlie Parker.”

There was a celebratory yell from a member of the audience, and the HHS students beamed and high-fived each other as host Joe Hanson announced that Hopkinton had pulled out a 330-320 victory in a “great game.”

Coach (and HHS history teacher) Mason Challinor said the students knew they were neck-and-neck with Andover but did not realize the enormity of how close the scores were until after the fact.

“The kids were amped up,” he said of their response.

The win earned Hopkinton a date with Mansfield, last season’s second-place finisher, in the quarterfinals, which airs this Saturday, April 13, at 6 p.m. [Update: HHS lost to Mansfield, 390-340.]

The HHS team’s involvement began with a written quiz at GBH’s Brighton studios back in November, when the Hillers were among 58 teams competing for 17 qualifying slots.
From there, the team was selected to compete against other public and private high schools in the MetroWest region for the Season 15 state championship.

The quiz show consists of four competitive parts — tossup, head-to-head, category and lightning round — where students’ knowledge is tested on questions about geography, history, science, literature and more. Teams earn and lose points in the fast-paced contest.

The matches air on GBH 2 as well as the station’s YouTube channel (youtube.com/c/HighSchoolQuizShow).

Challinor explained that the school club meets weekly in the run-up to the event and is comprised of 10-15 members throughout the year. The team alternate is Pranamya Keshkamat,

The club has qualified for the event three times in the past, twice defeated by the eventual winner, Challinor shared.

Challinor explained that the students prepare using trivia questions provided by several companies in bulk. In addition, Challinor tries to figure out the strengths of each student. If he sees a gap, Challinor said he focuses on it during practices.

“The main advice I give them is to be curious,” Challinor said. “In general, ask questions [in class], follow up, and, most importantly, file information away, because it may pop up some day.”

Challinor said he competed in trivia contests in high school and went down “Wikipedia rabbit holes” often.

He also tells the students that he would rather see them lose while being overconfident and aggressive than not.

Each player is allowed free tickets for family members to attend, and Challinor said a few staff members visited the studio in support as well.

He is looking ahead to the next competition — acknowledging Mansfield is a very strong team.

Ramesh, a junior, said while “Jeopardy!” does a good job for older audiences, he wanted to be part of a movement catering to younger viewers.

Although new to Hopkinton, Ramesh described himself as a “passionate quiz bowler” since freshman year, participating in the NAQT High School National Quiz Bowl tournament twice and achieving state rankings in both Virginia and Massachusetts.

He would like to unveil the “secret” of the quiz bowl world and promote it to a broader audience, he noted.

Ramesh thinks the most fun part of the competition is the learning curve, while the most stressful aspect is the struggle to put his finger to the button in time.

With that in mind, his preparation for future competitions includes buzzer practice to improve his reflexes in addition to studying content areas.

Challinor encouraged Parduhn, a senior, to join the club, noticing her enthusiasm for her self-proclaimed favorite subject, history.

“I love trivia, specifically about movies, and thought it would be very cool to be on an actual quiz show,” she noted.

As for her experience at the competition, Parduhn said her favorite part was when she knew a question and answered it. She found waiting for the show to start the most nerve-wracking.

In the meantime, she noted, “I am watching a lot more ‘Jeopardy!’ ”

The show’s championship team will receive a trophy, gold medals, a banner and $1,000 for the school. The runner-up will earn a trophy, silver medals, a banner and $500 for the school.


  1. Margie Wiggin

    Awesome accamplishment, team!!

  2. Glen Dawson

    What a wonderful honor! Congratulations! So good to see HHS encouraging academic competitions!

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