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Sunday, January 13, 2008

5 from high school earn spot on TV game show

What started out as just a chat between friends evolved into a quest by a quintet of Colts Neck High School students to earn a spot on television game show.

And it worked.

Five of the school's brightest — township residents Jessica Atlas, Rachel and Zara Feingold, Nikita Shenoy and Tyler Berman — represented Colts Neck on an episode of the cable quiz show "The Challenge," which airs on News 12 Saturday and Sunday nights.

"The Challenge" is an academic quiz show featuring teams of high school students from New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

The program was taped at the Cablevision studios in New York City in November.

The origination of the idea to attempt to gain a spot on the program started in the summer, when twin sisters Rachel and Zara Feingold talked with a mutual friend, Cathy Liu, a student at Howell High School. Liu organized a team of contestants at Howell and filed the appropriate paperwork to executives involved with the game show.

The Feingolds did likewise. The only difference is the Colts Neck team was selected to compete, while Howell wasn't.

"It's disappointing that Howell wasn't picked because that's how we got the idea," Rachel Feingold said.

Participants for the quiz show are picked randomly, according to Trent Anderson, Cablevision's vice president of education.

"Literally, all 32 teams are picked out of a hat," he said.

Anderson said there were 90 schools from New Jersey that applied to appear in this year's programs.

Only 32 schools from each of five regions — New Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut, Bronx/Brooklyn and Westchester/Hudson Valley — are picked to appear each year. The winners of each section plus the highest scoring regional finalist qualify for the finals, which will take place in May and June.

"We were notified in October that we had been accepted," said Zara Feingold. "So we had over a month to prepare and study."

Atlas, Shenoy and both Feingolds, all seniors, competed. Berman, the only junior of the group, was the team's alternate. Shenoy was picked as the captain.

The program will feature Colts Neck competing against a team from Vernon Township High School in a first-round matchup.

"One of the best parts was the school chartered a bus and we were able to bring members of the Cougar Den to cheer on the team," said Jamie Krieger-Lundquist, the team's academic adviser.

The Cougar Den featured about 35 fellow students who showed up at the studio equipped with signs, wigs, painted faces and tons of enthusiasm.

"It was a great feeling to have all that support," Atlas said. "It made us believe in ourselves."

Berman has already been designated as next year's captain, should the school be selected again to appear on the show.

"I learned a lot by watching and taking notes for next year," said Berman. "There is a lot of skill and some strategy involved."


WHAT: "The Challenge" academic quiz show

WHO: Colts Neck High School vs. Vernon Township High School

WHERE: News 12 New Jersey, U.S.A

WHEN: 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

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