LEWISTON — WMTW television cameras and “Jeopardy!” game show cast member Kelly Miyahara brought social studies to life Wednesday as 18 Lewiston Middle School students played.

In the end, Team Androscoggin beat teams Kennebec and Penobscot after correctly identifying four presidents who were assassinated.

The visit is part of a national tour to promote the Classroom Jeopardy! game and is the only Maine visit. Snippets of Wednesday’s game will be used in national promotions.

“Good morning everyone!” a lively Miyahara said as she greeted students. “My name is Kelly. I’m from “Jeopardy!” I live in Los Angeles.”

She’s part of the show’s “Clue Crew.”

“Maybe you’ve seen me on the show,” she said.

She coached students to ignore the cameras and just play. Like the televised show, students had to answer in the form of a question. There were three rounds, and “Daily Double” questions for which students could risk losing or gaining points.

“So many times, the third-place team comes back to win it all,” Miyahara said. “Don’t give up.”

She passed out wireless buzzers and “Jeopardy!” hats. After rehearsing, students looked into the camera and enthusiastically shouted, “This is ‘Jeopardy!’”

A large screen in front of the room showed the categories: Book Smarts, Team Cities, Homophones (two different words that sound the same), Spelling Bee, Landmark Cities and U.S. Geography.

The game began.

In Spelling Bee, one answer was, “It’s a type of animal that once roamed the Great Plains, name of a city in New York and used to be on the nickel.”

Students frantically hit their buzzers, trying to be first so they’d get called.

“What is b-u-f-f-a-l-o,” a student from team Androscoggin said.

“Very good,” Miyahara said to applause.

The answer of Homophones for 800: “A grain of corn, an officer in the Army or Air Force.”

Students hit their buzzers and Team Androscoggin was called on again.

“What is colonel?” a student said.

More applause.

In the second round, the categories were Patriotic Places, Animal Talk, Rhyme Time, Coin Count, Worldly Words and Welcome to America.

Team Penobscot cleaned up in Rhyme Time, correctly responding to the following:

Answer: “If Curious George gained too much weight, he would be one of these.”

Question: “What is a chunky monkey?”

Answer: “A rabbit that tells hilarious jokes.”

Question: “What is a funny bunny?”

Answer: “A skinny horse.”

Question: “What is a bony pony?”

Students had to correctly identify Mount Rushmore, the Pentagon, cities of sports teams and whether words were Latin, Italian or Spanish.

Then came the Daily Double. The question is a hard one, Miyahara warned. The familiar sound of a loon was played. The clue was: “This aquatic bird about the size of a duck makes a sound that’s mistaken for the cry of a woman.”

“What is a loon?” students instantly answered before Miyahara was able to finish the question.

“Very good,” she said to applause. She added that in most states, no one’s able to answer that question, “not even the teachers.”

Proud teacher Sue Reny chimed in, “Location, location, location.”

The game was close between Team Androscoggin with 23,700 points and Team Kennebec with 23,200 points.

For the Final Jeopardy! round, Miyahara handed out white boards. The “Jeopardy!” theme music played. Students wrote down how many points they’d wager and their answers.

When Team Androscoggin correctly identified the four presidents who were assassinated — John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley and James Garfield — they won.

“Good job,” Miyahara said. “Of course, they wagered a bundle,” which gave them 47,000 points.

She thanked students for allowing her to visit, posed for a group photo and left the school a Classroom Jeopardy! game that can be programmed to ask questions in all kinds of subjects.

Eighth-grader Abdi Alew was all smiles.

“It was really fun,” he said. “I liked the game.” The best parts were “playing in groups and winning.”

The morning will be one that “Jeopardy!” fan Cole Pringle will remember.

“Playing in class,” he said. “That was a blast.”

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“Jeopardy!” players: Lewiston Middle School social studies teacher Sue Reny’s name was pulled out of a hat to allow her students to play “Jeopardy!” with a cast member from Los Angeles. Reny has 111 eighth-graders in six classes, but only 18 could play. She, in turn, pulled 18 names out of a hat to be the “Jeopardy!” players Wednesday.

Those names include Nathan Warner, Jackson Castronova, Amber Veilleux, Emma Paquette, Kwesi Anoff-Akuffo, Deko Hassan, Angelina Billings-Thomas, Dillen Bergeron, Robbie Hopper, Cole Pringle, Abdimalik Alew, Bethany Dube, Katie Lemieux, Violet Mathieu, Marissa Larock, Kyra Physic and Madison Roy. One student’s name could not be published.


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