Brewer High School students Ryan Young, Lana Sabbagh, Lauren Richardson, Andrew Gillette compete in the High School Quiz Show Maine on Maine Public Television. Brewer's competition against Falmouth High School is set to air Feb. 7, 2019. Credit: Courtesy of Maine Public

For the first time in the three years since Maine Public Television started the statewide High School Quiz Show, Brewer High School made the cut and is one of the 16 teams that’s been selected to compete on television.

It’s joining two other Bangor-area high schools, Bangor High School and Hampden Academy, in the televised quiz show’s third season that will premiere Feb. 7.

The team of three Brewer seniors and a freshman started training for the quiz show in October, soon after they took the qualification test. The students watched old quiz show videos to practice, said their coach, Sue Ann Gaitings. They would pause the episode after the question, team members would use buzzers to answer, then Gaitings, the high school’s gifted and talented coordinator, would unpause so the students could check to see if they answered right.

On Dec. 9, Lauren Richardson, Lana Sabbagh, Andrew Gillette and Ryan Young traveled to Maine Public’s studios in Lewiston to represent Brewer and tape their first round match against last year’s runner-up, Falmouth High School.

“It was very nerve-wracking because it was television,” Richardson said. “The first round I could hear my heart pumping, but then the next couple rounds, we were just having fun.”

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The High School Quiz Show is a single-elimination academic bracket competition with four rounds that test the teams’ general knowledge in science, history, geography and even some pop culture. The Quiz Show winner from Maine advances to the regional High School Quiz Show Invitational to compete against champions from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Some quiz questions for the Maine version of the show come from the College Board, the organization in charge of the SAT, according to Shannon Moss, who has hosted all three seasons of the show. Other questions rely on local knowledge, and Moss said sometimes the organizers ask famous Mainers, such as Sen. Susan Collins, to record themselves asking questions, which Maine Public then plays for the students during the taping.

“It gives [the students] a wonderful opportunity to showcase their academic talent on a statewide show,” Moss said. “Every single show I learn an incredible amount.”

Credit: Courtesy of Maine Public

Last year, Bangor High School’s team won the statewide competition, and went to Boston to compete in the regional competition. Susan Thibedeau, the Bangor team’s coach and chair of the school’s English department, said students are already eager to start practicing this spring for next year’s quiz show.

“It’s another way to show it’s cool to be smart,” Thibedeau said. “Maine Public does a great job. They were so supportive through the whole process.”

Students and coaches from Bangor and Brewer have expressed interest in a Greater Bangor trivia competition that offers students another chance to demonstrate their knowledge.

“I’d like to do it not just on a television scale, but with local schools,” Richardson said.

Brewer’s face-off against Falmouth airs Feb. 7 at 8:30 p.m. on Maine Public Television. Bangor’s first-round match against Cumberland’s Greely High School airs Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. Hampden Academy faces Winthrop High School on March 7 at 8:30 p.m.