Students “Matchwits” at annual high school academic competition

The team from Pikes Peak Christian High School (left) takes on competitors from La Junta High School in a preliminary match during last weekend’s “Matchwits” tournament in Pueblo.

The team from Pikes Peak Christian High School (left) takes on competitors from La Junta High School in a preliminary match during last weekend’s “Matchwits” tournament in Pueblo.

Students representing 16 high schools from across Colorado converged in Pueblo Nov. 8-10 to compete in the “Matchwits” tournament – the academic competition put on by Rocky Mountain PBS (RMPBS) and sponsored by Tri-State and the rest of the state’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.

This is the 29th straight year Colorado’s public television network has organized and held the high school academic quiz show, but 2013 marks the first time the program was opened up to schools throughout the entire state, as opposed to only those in southern Colorado.

“When Rocky Mountain PBS approached us about sponsoring ‘Matchwits,’ we were immediately intrigued,” said Tri-State communications manager Jim Van Someren. “Then when we learned it was going statewide for the first time, we saw it as a natural fit and the perfect project for Tri-State and all the electric co-ops to support.”

The three-day, single-elimination tournament was held and recorded at Rocky Mountain PBS’ studios on the campus of Colorado State University-Pueblo. It featured the top 16 schools that had advanced from the original 70 qualifying schools.

Each 30-minute match consisted of three rounds, with subject matter including, but not limited to, English, history, geography, science, math and current events. Former TV meteorologist Craig Eliot played the role of host and quizmaster. Click here for a sneak preview.

This marks the eighth year in a row that former TV meteorologist Craig Eliot has hosted “Matchwits"

This marks the eighth year in a row that former TV meteorologist Craig Eliot has hosted “Matchwits”

“Not surprisingly, there were some very impressive kids and some tight matches,” Van Someren said. “It’s obvious that most of these students put as much hard work and preparation into this academic competition as many of their fellow students do in athletics and other activities.”

The tournament’s 15 matches were recorded live and are scheduled to be broadcast on all five RMPBS affiliate stations (in Denver, Colorado Springs/Pueblo, Grand Junction, Durango and Steamboat Springs) on consecutive Sunday evenings at 6:30 p.m. beginning Jan. 5, 2014. The 2013-2014 “Matchwits” champion school will be revealed and crowned when the series’ final show airs on April 13.

“In airing the program on all five affiliate stations, we will be effectively reaching 99 percent of the television viewing households across Colorado,” explained RMPBS development account executive Kelsey Prescott. “We are so excited and thankful for having Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives involved in such a key role this year.”

The benefits of sponsoring “Matchwits” are numerous, according to Van Someren. “Along with directly supporting youth and education with a statewide impact, the state’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives receive a significant amount of on-air, on-line and in-person exposure and recognition through our group participation,” he said.

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