Students to match know-how in Rotary Club history quiz

July 18, 2003|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Thirteen fifth- and sixth-grade contestants will compete for a $300 top prize Sunday in the Chambersburg Rotary Club History Quiz, one of the many events scheduled for the annual ChambersFest celebration.

Students from Chambersburg public and private schools and the Scotland School for Veterans Children will test their knowledge against each other in the 2 p.m. event in Warfield Hall at Wilson College, according to Rotary member Joe Wolfinger.

"What we're trying to do is instill a love of local history" in the students, said Bob Harrison, a Rotary member and history lover who will serve as master of ceremonies for the third year in a row.


Wolfinger said the competition will consist of three phases, beginning with a written examination of more than 50 questions. Those questions will be multiple choice, according to Harrison.

The top three contestants in the round of written questions will advance to the second round, consisting of 42 verbal questions, Wolfinger said.

Similar to the game show "Jeopardy!," the quiz will end with a final question. The difference is, the students can select a question based on a degree of difficulty.

The final questions selected by the finalists will be worth 10, 15 or 25 points, he said.

Last year, Wolfinger said, the finalists were allowed to wager any of the points they had earned in the earlier rounds on the final question. The student in third place at the time, Kimberly Smith of Marion, Pa., ended up surpassing the other two to win the top prize of $500, according to Wolfinger.

Along with changing the rule on the final wager, Wolfinger said the club decided "to spread the money out a little bit." The prize for first place is now $300, with a second prize of $200 and $100 going to the third-place contestant.

There is great deal of history to cover since Chambersburg was founded in the 1730s, so the students who entered the contest were given three source references for the questions about Chambersburg, Franklin County and Pennsylvania History, according to Wolfinger.

"Southern Revenged!" chronicling the history of Chambersburg during the Civil War is one of the resources. The others are "A Guided Tour Through American History," published by the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, and "Frontier Trail," a publication of the county's tourist council.

Wolfinger said the Rotary Club began the quiz three years ago, inspired by "Jay Walking," a feature on the "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno in which the host asks seemingly simple historical questions to people on the street.

That led some members to wonder how much local students knew about area history, he said. The first contest was rather simple, with small cash prizes awarded for correctly answered questions, Wolfinger said.

The format changed last year to an actual contest, he said.

"What we discovered last year is the students took it very seriously," he said.

ChambersFest, which began in 1986, has its own historical roots. The week-long celebration was conceived as a way to celebrate the rebuilding of the town after it was burned by Confederate raiders in July 1864.

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