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High School Team Surges into Second Season of WGBH's 'Quiz Show'

Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School's 'Quiz Show' team is shooting for the championship after earning the second highest score in the qualifying match for the WGBH show.

It's Monday at 2:30 p.m. and classes have just let out at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School.

Like rush hour in a New York subway, bodies fill the hallways, with a majority of them hurrying towards the front door exit.

After a day of lectures, quizzes and tests, the students are itchy to get to the football field, launch into a favorite video game or log onto Facebook. But not those on Vinnie Bucci's College Bowl team.

The Hamilton-Wenham team has qualified to compete in "High School Quiz Show," a television game show hosted by WGBH.

On Oct. 17, competing against 70 other schools from eastern and central Massachusetts, the team earned 945 points at WGBH's qualifying event called "Super Sunday."

"We got the second highest score," co-captain Hannah Buckler said proudly.

Asked how they first got involved with the team, the co-captains Buckler and Greg Lidrbauch demonstrate winning teammanship by answering almost in unison. Lidrbauch saying, "(Buckler's) brother was the captain of the team." Both Buckler and Lidrbauch have been on the team since they joined as freshmen.

Somehow sounding not in the least bit boasting, Lidrbauch adds, "We've won the regional championship for the last three years."

Making his way from behind an impossibly prototypical teacher's desk bedecked with a glowingly ripe Royal Gala apple, Bucci makes his way to the blackboard at the head of the class. He stops for a moment to discuss a draft of a paper with a student, "keep you premise, it's perfect," he tells her.

Bucci smiles and chats with those departing and those arriving as he marks the chalkboard with a two team-scoring column. A moment later in the form of a friendly competition, the Quiz Show team practice begins. During Monday's practice, it appeared the underclass members of the team were taking on a team of seniors - including the team's co-captains Buckler and Lidrbauch.

"In which state is America's only royal palace found?" Bucci asks, reading from a card.

No one groans or shuffles with the discomfort of ignorance. It takes a couple of errant attempts but then a team member with a raised hand says with confidence, "Hawaii." Bucci jots a five on her team's column.

Lidrbauch rakes in five more points with geometry smarts by answering "slope" to another question. An algebra question comes next and Declan Sullivan attempts an answer. He's given a calculator by an obliging teammate and searches for the value of "x."

Chuckling, Bucci chides him saying, "They wont allow that, you know. You can't be pulling out your calculator on the Quiz Show."

A member of the other team misses with the wrong answer. Undeterred, Sullivan carries on and nails it. Yes, there are rules, but Bucci respects effort and awards the points.

This marks the ninth year that Bucci's been coaching the Hamilton-Wenham team. For seven years he served as assistant coach, two years ago he took over as head coach and was joined by a new assistant, Johann Knets.

Though Bucci stresses that the competition is friendly and fun there is more to it than meets the eye.

"High School Quiz Show" producer Hillary Wells and colleagues are currently at work matching up the qualifying teams for phase two of the competition. Live taping of the matches begins in January at the WGBH studios in Brighton.

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