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WESTFIELD — Students at three local high schools polished their trivia skills and got their buzzer fingers ready for “As Schools Match Wits” this year, and two of them will be on the air this month.

“As Schools Match Wits” is produced by WGBY, Springfield’s public television station, and Westfield State University, and is one of the oldest running academic contests in the United States. It is open to all interested public and private schools in the area, and a random drawing is used to line up the contest schedule.

Two longtime competitors — Westfield High School and Gateway Regional High School — are making return visits to the show, which includes schools from throughout Western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut. Westfield Technical Academy hoped to join the club this year, but another school’s withdrawal means WTA will have to wait until the 2025 season for its debut.

Gateway

Gateway taped its matchup with Sturbridge’s Tantasqua Regional High School in March. The contest will air at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 6, on WGBY, Channel 57.

Gateway’s “As Schools Match Wits” team consists of, from left, Ana Holmes, Cailin McKellick, Joseph Pisani, Jesse Balboni, Jake Marchbanks and faculty advisor Christopher Mosher.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

Social studies teacher Christopher Mosher, advisor for “As Schools Match Wits” team since 2018, said he did some research in their school library, and the first reference to the quiz show appeared in the 1965 yearbook.

“So with a decent amount of certainty, I’d say that’s the first year we competed. Looks like our 60th year anniversary is next year,” Mosher said. “It is an honor to coach the team — I feel a sense of obligation to carry the torch given Gateway’s long history with the program.”

Mosher runs a Trivia Club at Gateway that meets every two weeks after school.

“There are about 20 students that attend, and they participate in various trivia challenges that I create. The range of questions is typically across the board, and I try to make the questions only moderately difficult, to appeal to a wide [range] of skill levels.”

Mosher said from this general Trivia Club, several students opted to try out for the “As Schools Match Wits” team. He had a qualifying test and five students qualified: four competitors and one alternate.

On Gateway’s team this year are senior Joseph Pisani of Russell, sophomore Ana Holmes of Huntington, junior Jesse Balboni of Russell and ninth grader Cailin McKellick of Montgomery. Sophomore Jake Marchbanks of Chester serves as the alternate member.

Westfield High

Westfield High School has also participated in “As Schools Match Wits” for many years, although science teacher Jon Tyler, who is in his second year as advisor, did not know how many.

Westfield High School’s team includes, from left, Andrew O’Sullivan, Kaitlynn Goulette, Conner Gelinas and Benjamin Miller.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

“As long as I’ve been here, 24 years, and it’s been here before me,” Tyler said, adding that Assistant Principal Andrew Joseph was on the quiz team as a student in the early 2000s.

WHS filmed the first match against Rockville High School, from Vernon, Connecticut, in March. The episode will air on April 20 at 7 p.m. Speaking before his team’s episode was filmed, Tyler was already looking ahead to what happens if they win — advancing to the next round and another matchup.

Tyler had reason to expect a second match. He said last year, Westfield won three or four matches to make it all the way to the final round for the second year in a row, losing in a close contest. He said under the previous coach Kate Pawul, Westfield had also made it to the finals.

“The core that we have now is pretty good,” Tyler said, adding that math, science and history are their strong points.

This year’s team includes senior Conner Gelinas, sophomore Kaitlynn Goulette, junior Benjamin Miller and senior Andrew O’Sullivan. Alternates are junior Luke Bulan and ninth grader Jonas Miller.

Westfield Tech

Westfield Technical Academy was also gearing up to compete for the first time ever on “As Schools Match Wits.” Led by English teacher Jeanine DeLand, the team was meeting once a week after school, and as the match got closer, once or twice a week during school.

The first-ever Westfield Technical Academy “As Schools Match Wits” team included, from left, advisor Jeanine DeLand, senior Lindsey DeLand, ninth grader Alex Mason, ninth grader and alternate member Logan Byrne, and junior Brady LePage. Not pictured is sophomore Gabriella Scottoni.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

However, right before their March 23 filming date, DeLand received the news that the team against which they would have competed had dropped out.

“Unfortunately, another school had to drop out and since they need even [numbers of] teams, we were cut because we were the last school to be selected,” DeLand said.

She said New England Public Media was very apologetic and told Westfield Tech that next year they would be added to the schedule with no waiting list.

“Everyone took the news just fine,” DeLand said. “The underclassmen were really happy that we are going to be in it for next year.  My senior, who is also my daughter, was fine with it. Everyone, except for Lindsey, is on board for next year.”

She said her daughter, Lindsey DeLand, won’t be with the team in 2025 but will be cheering them on from close by, as she plans to attend Westfield State University next year, majoring in communications.

The rest of the team — and prospective team members for the 2025 television debut — consisted of junior Brady LePage, sophomore Gabriella Scottoni, ninth grader Alex Mason and alternate member Logan Byrne, a ninth grader.

amyporter@thewestfieldnews.com | + posts