WEB EXTRA: GW cosponsoring local gameshow

University officials announced this month that GW will be co-sponsoring “It’s Academic,” a television quiz show for high school students and the longest running quiz show on the small screen.

Originally broadcast in 1961, “It’s Academic” provides a forum for students from 81 area high schools to compete in a fast-paced quiz show featuring questions on topics ranging from current events to literature to world history. Past contestants on the show include U.S. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer and ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos, the University said.

GW announced its underwriting of the NBC4-produced show to increase GW’s visibility and support area students, said GW Director of Media Relations Tracy Schario.

The University will be providing funding for the production of the show’s 45th year, and Schario said the University hopes to continue the relationship in the future. Schario would not tell The Hatchet how much funding GW is providing.

“It’s a natural fit,” Schario wrote in an e-mail last week about GW’s support of the show and said the University may offer incentives to the high school contestants next year.

“The University is also planning to offer scholarships and application fee waivers,” Schario said.

The show airs on Saturday at 10 a.m. and is usually first in viewer ratings for its time slot, the show’s producers said. While “It’s Academic” was originally started in D.C. in 1961 by executive producer Sophie Altman, other local television news stations have their own versions of “It’s Academic,” including stations in Los Angeles and New York.

“We’re interested in showcasing bright individuals who are interested in education,” said producer Susan Altman, daughter of the show’s founder, Sophie Altman.

Susan Altman said her mother began the show to highlight the academically successful students in area high schools, since student athletes normally receive media praise.

Three three-person teams from competing schools compete against each other during each show’s tapings on Saturdays. Throughout the show’s 21-episode season, winning teams move on to playoffs, semifinals, finals and the grand finale Superbowl at the end of the show’s season in June. The school of the winning team is awarded a $10,000 prize.

The live studio audience for the show’s taping consists of parents, teachers and classmates of the contestants. Musical bands and cheerleaders from the contestant’s high schools cheer on the competitors and perform during commercial breaks.

At Saturday’s filming, the student team from Sidwell Friends School in D.C. beat South Lakes High School of Reston, Va., and Park View High School of Sterling, Va. The contestants said practice makes perfect.

“We practice most days at lunch and quiz each other,” said Sidwell Friends high school senior Marshall Strother

Teammate Meredith Case, also a senior, said she had “expected questions about GW. We studied the history, so we know that GW opened in 1821.”

Susan Altman said NBC4 is happy GW has decided to co-sponsor the show.

“It’s supposed to be mutually beneficial. We feel the relationship with GW is very beneficial because it is a highly regarded institution,” Altman said.

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