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Stamford Kids Face 'Challenge' on TV

STAMFORD, Conn. — Stamford residents may recognize a few faces on their television screen Feb. 7 when Westhill High School takes on Bridgeport Central on MSG Varsity’s trivia game show, “The Challenge.”

The team, chosen by science teacher Joseph Aibinder, consists of Dixita Viswanath, Skyler Ross, Zachary Kaplove and Patrick Hamon. Joanna Koczuk is the alternate.

“We do it because we love it,” said Ross, the team captain.

While raw knowledge was a factor in choosing the members, the teacher was also looking for students who would be able to interpret questions quickly and not be too afraid to take risks to win, Aibinder said. He described the game as “mental Olympics.”

Kaplove said what separates teams are the difficult questions in subjects the students may not know much about. In those cases, the students have to "make due."

“The Challenge” is a single-elimination tournament in which high schools from Connecticut, Long Island, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Westchester County, the Lower Hudson Valley and New Jersey go head-to-head. There are 192 schools participating on the show, which is in its 15th season.

Westhill’s matchup against Bridgeport Central is the school’s first round match.

Each regional champion school earns $2,500, and a chance to go on to “The Challenge” championship. The tri-state champion team will earn $10,000 for its school, and each student participating in the final “Challenge” will receive $500.

“We’re proud to celebrate academics on MSG Varsity through ‘The Challenge’ and to provide these extremely bright students a platform to showcase their talents with their communities,” Theresa Chillianis, general manager of MSG Varsity , said in a statement.

MSG Varsity airs episodes of “The Challenge,” 6:30 p.m. from Sunday through Friday.

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