Dal sponsors Reach for the Top

High school quiz teams gather at NSAC for provincial finals

Andy Murdoch - April 27, 2012

RFTT

Hands on your buzzers trivia fiends, here’s a couple questions for you.

Short snapper: Which TV game show personality once hosted Reach For The Top?

Correct: Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek was national quizmaster from 1969-1973.  

Local question: For the first time in its history, Nova Scotia’s Reach for the Top program has a sponsor. Who is it?

For another ten points: Dalhousie University.

NSAC to host the finals

This Saturday and Sunday (April 28-29), the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC) in Truro is hosting the provincial Reach for the Top championships.

Only one of the eight Nova Scotian high school teams will go to the national finals in Toronto at the end of May to vie for the coveted top trophy. Historically, the winning team raises its own funds for the trip, but this year, Dalhousie will help foot the bill.

Dalhousie will also cover the rental of space at the NSAC. It’s a relief for Provincial Coordinator Hans Budgey (BSc '87, Biology), whose love for the program has led him to stump up the money himself to see the competitions continue.

“It's a help to me personally, and it will lessen the burden on the players,” he says. “The two contributions are very, very important to keeping the program going.” 

Connecting with sharp students

Alumni Relations and the Campus Bookstore also donated Dal-branded gifts for students, and Registrar’s Office recruiters will cheer on students at the competition and present everyone with swag bags.

Recruiter Kate Somers is looking forward to meeting the competitors and handing the  champs an oversize cheque.

"This type of event is a really good opportunity for us to connect with very bright and well-rounded high school students,” says Ms. Somers. “It gives us a chance to chat with students from Yarmouth, Sydney and anywhere in between.”

Creating a great team

Canada’s Reach for the Top started as a national television show in 1966. After the CBC cancelled the show in 1985, thousands of high school students across the country continued to compete off-camera.

Teams are a carefully assembled balance of students who can handle a barrage of trivia questions ranging from pop culture, mathematics, sciences, history and politics.

Keith Lehwald, graduating this year from Dal with a combined honours degree in political science and French, was on the Halifax West High School team. He remembers practicing every week, answering shootouts, snappers and local knowledge questions, practising recall and buzzer reaction times. He loved it.

“Like any other extra curricular activity, you develop a camaraderie with your teammates,” he says. “You rely on them.”

Be quick on the buzzer

You also develop a good base of general knowledge that can be applied anywhere from Dal’s T-room pub quiz nights to the law degree Mr. Lehwald is starting here next year.

“It's really good to be able to have that kind of knowledge and recall it very quickly,” he says.

Mr. Budgey agrees. This competitive outlet teaches them research skills and team work. “That makes a big difference in how they’re going to go on to live their lives afterwards,” he says.

The mental quickness and broad-minded approach to learning appeals to recruiters like Ms. Somers. "Given how interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary a lot of the Dal programs are, it's a really good fit," she says.  

The competition is open to the public and will be held in the Haley Intstitute on the Nova Scotia Agricultural College campus from 10am to 4pm, April 28 and 29.

And for the competitors this week-end, alumnus Mr. Lehward has some advice: "Don't be afraid to be quick on the buzzer. If you are not 100% sure, don't wait, because someone else will grab it, and if they guess correctly, they will get the point."


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