It was a fast-moving hour of questions, answers, high scoring and an ultimate come-from-behind victory when Avon defeated Olmsted Falls High School by a razor-thin margin, a final score of 340 to 330. The culmination of four months of weekly competitions, the twenty-seventh annual academic championship of the Scholastic Games high school quiz show was heard Monday, May 22nd on WEOL (AM 930). Avon became only the fourth school to win consecutive titles, the most recent having been Olmsted Falls, which won in four consecutive years, 2011-2014.
The winning team consisted of Bree Collins, Sam Gerak, and team captain Alex Stamatis, who won his fourth “Standout Scholar Award,” a weekly $50 prize given to the student judged to have contributed the most to his or her team. The Falls team consisted of Ben Meredyk, Eric Andrews, and team captain Joey Calabrase, a Standout winner in last week’s semifinal.
Falls had a strong start, ending the first round of questions with a 60 to 30 point lead, which the team increased in the usually daunting Current Events Round, entering round three with a 120 to 60 point lead. Use of buzzers begins in the third round, introducing an advantage to those with quick answers, and Avon bounced back, outscoring their opponents to come within 20 points, but Olmsted Falls maintained its lead.
The fourth round consists of up to five clues for each answer. A correct response to the first clue yields fifty points while the final clue provides only ten, with intermediate scoring possibilities in between. First clues were about the inventor of the telephone. Avon’s Stamatis buzzed at the 50 point clue answering Morse, inventor of the telegraph. Olmsted Falls was given the remaining clues and Calabrase earned ten points on the last clue.
On the second item, Meredyk’s fifty-pointer buzz scored for Olmsted Falls when he named the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Calabrase scored two more times, 30 on clues about Simon Bolivar and 20 when he identified Maya Angelou. A fourth-round total of 110 points for Falls restored a commanding lead of 250 to 120 to the team as the competition entered the final round.
It looked like a slam dunk for Falls, but Avon, particularly Stamatis, demonstrated a flair for lightning-quick, accurate answers to rapid-fire questions, which is the essence of the final round. The risk in the round is lost points for incorrect answers, but that seldom happened with either team. Quicker responses provided twice the scoring opportunities to Avon, and the championship resulted, but with only a ten-point margin of victory when the timekeeper activated the final bell. It was the first time this year that either team had scored fewer than 400 points.
A total of sixteen Lorain County public and private high schools have competed this year with two schools in competition each week. The program is sponsored by the Educational Service Center of Lorain County with foundation support. The teams are guided by faculty advisors. Todd Sayers is the advisor to the Avon team and Erin Stanton is the advisor for Olmsted Falls.
Completing a 26-year tradition, each participating school has been awarded a $1000 tuition credit to be given to a deserving student that will attend an area college or university. Additional credits are awarded to schools as they compete and win in playoffs, with six such awards going to the championship winner. Contributing institutions include Lorain County Community, Ashland University, Case Western Reserve, Heidelberg, John Carroll, Notre Dame College of Ohio, Baldwin Wallace University, Ohio Wesleyan, Oberlin College, Ursuline College, and Tiffin University, many of which have participated in this program for a number of years.
Scholastic Games, on WEOL radio since 1990, is presented on the station by the Elyria Public Library System. Production of the program is made possible by funding from Nordson Corporation, the Nord Family Foundation, the Community West Foundation, and the following funds administered by the Community Foundation of Lorain County: the William J. and Flora Hearn Durling Fund, the Dorothy and Elizabeth King Memorial Charitable Fund, and the Miraldi and Barrett Fund. The Elyria Public Library System and the Elyria Days Inn provide recording venues, and following broadcast, weol.com and standoutscholars.com offer the programs as “podcasts.”
A member of the Broadcasters Hall of Fame of Akron and Cleveland, the program’s producer, Jim Mehrling, is a veteran northeast Ohio broadcaster. After seven years as Chief Announcer at WEOL, he was Production Manager at Cleveland’s WERE-AM for over a decade, and for over twenty years has been with Cleveland’s WCLV-FM, now a part of Ideastream public broadcasting. Scholastic Games programs are followed by a talk feature, “Dialogues in Education,” which has presented education success stories with its host, award-winning journalist Bob Tayek.