Joel Barlow Students Prep For 'The Challenge' Quiz Show

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Members of the Joel Barlow Challenge team, from left to right are Nicolo Marzaro, Cooper D'Agostino, Benjamin Lewson, Julia Wargo, Lia Cirelli, and Mr. Ecsedy.
Members of the Joel Barlow Challenge team, from left to right are Nicolo Marzaro, Cooper D'Agostino, Benjamin Lewson, Julia Wargo, Lia Cirelli, and Mr. Ecsedy. Photo Credit: Joel Barlow Team Challenge

REDDING, Conn. – Joel Barlow High School will return to the small screen this winter to participate in “The Challenge,” MSG Varsity’s high school quiz show.

Barlow will compete against Jonathan Law that will be taped in the New York studio Feb. 7 and broadcast Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. on MSG Varsity. MSG can be seen on Cablevision Optimum's channel 14.

Ben Lewson, a Barlow senior and team captain who has been on the show before, said preparations for the competition are enthusiastic.

“We watch reruns of the show, get flash cards, elementary science books and bring an almanac on the train,” he said.  “A lot of people get annoyed at how loud we are.”

The show plays like "Jeopardy," with categories of questions, ranging from history/geography and science to arts/literature and math.

The teams have six members, including alternates. Four members of each team can collaborate on answers, except for the lightening round, when the captain answers 10 questions in a minute.

Jared Cotter, a semifinalist from TV's "American Idol," is the host of the show.

Sixteen schools from Connecticut are participating, along with schools from New York and New Jersey. Barlow will compete against Connecticut schools first. If it wins four matches, Barlow will advance to the Tri-State championships.

State winners earn $2,500 for their school. The Tri-State Champion receives a $10,000 prize, and each student that participates in the championship game gets $500.

Mike Ecsedy, the Barlow math and science teacher who coaches the team, said Barlow has appeared on “The Challenge” before and made it to the Connecticut finals in 2009.

“They like the competition and the challenge,” he said. “It’s intellectually stimulating and not what you’re typically asked, it’s old fashioned trivia.”

“It’s stuff we never imagine we know,” Ben Lewson said.

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