M-A Quizbowl club

Press clippings

San Mateo County Times January 19, 2004
San Mateo County Times November 18, 2002

San Francisco Chronicle March 13, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle May 17, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle May 11, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle March 2, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle May 26, 2000

The Almanac May 24, 2000
The Almanac May 2, 2001
The Almanac April 10, 2002
The Almanac January 21, 2004

San Jose Mercury News January 29, 2004

Team takes first place in academic quiz contest
San Jose Mercury News January 29, 2004

Menlo-Atherton High School's team placed first in the San Francisco Bay Area National Academic Quiz Tournament quiz bowl Jan. 10. The team consisted of Daniel Altman, Collin Cronkite and Rachel Barclay. The three-person team beat 13 four-person teams from all over the Bay Area to capture the title with a 9-1 record, according to the school.

The team now qualifies for the national high school quiz bowl tournament, which will be held June 5-6 on the East Coast. That tournament is expected to include about 60 teams.

The quiz tournaments include trivia questions, similar to the television show ``Jeopardy.'' After buzzing in, students have five seconds to answer each question. The Menlo-Atherton quiz bowl club meets twice a week and practices with a buzzer system. Each student on the varsity or junior varsity team is given a copy of the book ``The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy,'' which includes descriptions of people, places and things.

``Even if students don't get a lot of correct answers, they have fun hanging out during practice,'' said Sue Kayton, the quiz bowl club parent. ``We get into interesting discussions sparked by some of the answers and whether the answers are really correct or not.''

For more information on the national organization, check out http://www.naqt.com.

Chalk Talk
San Mateo County Times January 19, 2004

Menlo-Atherton High School's Quiz Kids team placed first last week in the Bay Area Regional High School NAQT Quiz Bowl Tournament. This qualifies the team for the National Quiz Bowl Tournament.  NAQT is an organization that sponsors nationwide high school quiz bowl tournaments.


Quiz kids victorious again
The Almanac January 21, 2004

For the fifth straight year, bragging rights for quiz supremacy in the Bay Area belong to the quiz-kid team from Menlo-Atherton High School, whose 9-1 record recently captured the regional title and qualified them for the national quiz bowl tournament.  In the regional tournament held Saturdaym, January 10, the three-person team of Daniel Altman, Colin Cronkite and Rachel Barclay took first place in competition with four-person teams from other schools in the area, said team coach Gregg Whitnah, an M-A math teacher.

San Francisco Chronicle March 13, 2003

  Quiz whiz leaves no gap unturned
Pop-culture cramming pays off with victory
by Mark Simon

Perhaps the single most stunning moment in the four-year history of Peninsula Quiz Kids came in last year's finals when Daniel Barclay correctly answered a question about Britney Spears.

Up to then, everyone assumed that Daniel -- a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School who reads historical atlases for enjoyment -- had no idea who Britney Spears might be.

Actually, he didn't. But, nervous about the finals, Daniel relented on his personal ban on pop culture and spent a few weeks reading the entertainment section of the newspaper.

"I just so happened to pick up a couple of useful facts," he said. "I've since forgotten them, so my integrity is intact."

If any individual can be said to have emerged as a star from Peninsula Quiz Kids, it would be Daniel, whose Menlo-Atherton team has won the 24-school tournament three years in a row.

Quiz Kids airs Friday and Saturday nights on Peninsula cable systems, part of Peninsula TV, a local network of government and public affairs broadcasting that reaches 250,000 households from Daly City to Santa Clara. The teams come from high schools from San Francisco to San Jose.

The Chronicle is a sponsor of Peninsula Quiz Kids.

In September, Quiz Kids goes regional, airing at noon Saturdays on KRON-TV and featuring teams from throughout the Bay Area.

Based on the old General Electric College Bowl, each match has three segments -- the collaboration round in which three-member teams can confer on their answers, a face-off in which a representative of each team answers questions in a selected category, and the lightning round in which the teams compete to answer the most questions.

The questions are about literature and language, science and technology, math, history, geography, fine and performing arts, current events and sports.

Daniel, who turns 18 on Tuesday has represented Menlo-Atherton all four years of the program's existence in the face-off round, taking geography as his category. Show producers say they can recall only a handful of questions he has missed in that time.

Daniel has been ably assisted by thoroughly knowledgeable teammates who have filled his own gaps in sports, popular culture and literature.

But by virtue of his longevity on the show, his depth and breadth of knowledge and his facile recall skills, he has made a lasting impression.

"He obviously has a tremendous memory," said Gregg Whitnah, advanced calculus teacher at Menlo-Atherton and coach of the M-A team. "But you've got to have something to remember."

"He has a vast reservoir of knowledge, and it makes him a formidable opponent," said Wells Wadleigh, adviser to Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough. The past two years, Crystal Springs has lost to Menlo-Atherton in the finals.

"Last year, it was his knowledge not just of history and geography, but of popular culture," Wadleigh said. "That's what was stunning about last year. Britney Spears. Who'd a thunk?" "I knew that one," said Tyson Mao, a Crystal Springs team member and now a freshman at California Institute of Technology. "He beat me to the buzzer."

"Daniel is really quick," said Liz La Porte, producer of Peninsula Quiz Kids. "He's extremely fast."

He's also extremely smart. His mother says Daniel started reading when he was 14 months old. A National Advanced Placement Scholar and an Eagle Scout, he has been accepted at the University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale and Duke. He's waiting to hear from Harvard, Princeton and Penn.

He likes to spend his time reading nonfiction, having conversations with his friends or playing what he calls "mindless computer games." He never watches TV.

"From what I've heard, TV sort of occupies a lot of people's time, and it doesn't give them much in return," Daniel said.

In addition to being uncommonly smart, Daniel is slender, wears glasses and has a laconic speaking style -- a combination that would have almost guaranteed him a high school experience of unrelenting social misery.

"I think Quiz Kids saved the day for him," Whitnah said. "I think he has become so well known for Quiz Kids that the other students are in awe of him."

Daniel, careful to downplay his efforts and to praise his teammates, said he has enjoyed contributing to his school's reputation, and he has particularly enjoyed lunchtime practice sessions with his teammates.

But now, the finals are nearing, and the question is whether Menlo-Atherton, this year captained by Daniel, will complete a four-year sweep. Burlingame High School is said to be very tough. Crystal Springs is back and strong as ever. "We were within a question of beating them two years ago, so we think it's doable," said Crystal Springs coach Wadleigh. "He's not invincible."

He's not, Daniel said. "I don't want to be seen as some strange, unstoppable force. I just want to be seen as someone who represented his school. Even if we do lose, I won't have any regrets."

Quiz Kids information

For information on Peninsula Quiz Kids, including broadcast dates, channels and information on entering the competition, go online to www.pentv.tv/PQK/pqk.htm, or call (650) 637-1936.

Next fall's Quiz Kids tournament will feature 48 teams from throughout the Bay Area, including the 24 Peninsula and San Francisco teams that competed this year. Teams expected to compete include Berkeley High School, San Ramon Valley High School, Lowell High School in San Francisco, De La Salle High School in Concord and San Leandro High School.

The show is taped before a live audience at Peninsula TV studios in San Carlos.

November 18, 2002
San Mateo County Times

Sharp kids, Trebek clone pulling in big ratings.  Know who fought in the Peloponnesian War? These County high schoolers do

By Emily Fancher, STAFF WRITER

Brad Friedman is San Mateo County's Alex Trebek.  The drama director at San Mateo High School has the same salt and pepper hair and sharp suits as Trebek, host of "Jeopardy." And Friedman also asks trivia questions on TV -- on "Quiz Kids," a local show broadcast on Channel 26.

More than 100 fans showed up at the television studio on Saturday for a taping of the first show of the fourth season, in which defending champ Menlo-Atherton High School faced off against Hillsdale High School.

The show is something of a local phenomenon. Broadcast 10 times a week on Channel 26, it is the station's most popular show. Executive producer Bob Marks says the station has estimated that it draws up to 25,000 viewers for some episodes.  "It's taken off beyond our wildest expectations," said producer Liz La Porte. "The kids are gracious, intelligent and articulate."

Marks said his wife, a former teacher, came up with the idea and that the popularity of shows like "Who Wants to be Millionaire?" helped generate excitement at high schools about the quiz teams and the show.  Teams compete for an all-expenses paid trip to Europe, which all three members of this year's Menlo-Atherton team enjoyed last year. The runners up will receive $500 in scholarship money for college.

Menlo-Atherton beat Hillsdale 390 to 200, partly because their team captain Daniel Barclay is an intellectual superstar.  "Daniel Barclay has a reputation as a genius," said Elinor Westfield, a senior at Menlo-Atherton, who came to the show last year.  Barclay is good at everything, but nearly perfect at geography. Teammate Jessica Woods excelled at the math questions and David Hestrin shined at culture and history.

Questions ranged from which governments fought the Peloponnesian War (Sparta and Athens) to what disease affects one's ability to regulate blood sugar levels (diabetes).  Barclay said he didn't have any expectations before he signed on for the team four years ago and the ride has been fun.  "I like the actual shows best of all," Barclay said after the show. "I may look uncomfortable up there, but I'm actually having fun."

Ethan Stewart, who coached the Hillsdale team and teaches history at the school, said he loves preparing for the events. "The kids are bright and motivated," he said. "I was proud of the team today. It was very close after the first two rounds."  Fans from both high schools turned out to clap, stamp their feet and wave signs for their teams like it was a homecoming football game.

"We wanted to make kids who are high achievers into intellectual role models," said Marks, "and I think we've done it."

Staff writer Emily Fancher covers Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley. She can be reached at 650-348-4340 or efancher@angnewspapers.com

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