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Hagerstown youth aims for Jeopardy! appearance

May 24, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

This seventh-grader at Western Heights Middle School recently auditioned to appear on a version of Jeopardy! for kids.

Who is Tyler Bivona?

The 12-year-old lives in Hagerstown and said it was his mother, Amy Bere, who told him about the online test to compete on the game show. About 10,000 youths took that test in March. About one month later, Tyler learned he was one of about 250 students nationwide chosen for a second round of interviews and tests.

Tyler went to Washington, D.C., May 9 for that audition, and said he will learn by August if he was one of 15 chosen for the shows, which will be taped in Los Angeles on Aug. 20. The episodes will air between Oct. 8 and 12.

Tyler said he was surprised to make it to the next round, after the online test.

"I knew I got two or three wrong," he said. "And my mom helped me with a few."

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When he found out that he'd been picked for the Washington tryout, Tyler said he began calling friends and family.

"I was really excited," he said. "I called a ton of people."

The only advice he received before moving on to the next round was to be sure to answer in the form of a question.

"Which I did," Tyler said. "But when I play with my grandma, it doesn't matter if you put it into a question."

During that test, there was an interview and a mock Jeopardy! game. He remembers only two questions he answered during that game, each for a different reason.

He said he was asked the name of the actor who plays Harry Potter in the movie versions of the book. He instantly answered, "Who is Daniel Radcliffe?"

The other question he remembers because a fast answer cost him the point.

"They said these are the three main positions on an NBA team," Tyler said. "And it was guard, forward and this one in the middle."

He answered that it was a point guard, but says he knew instantly that the correct answer should have been "center."

"I knew that," he said. "I love sports, and I play basketball. I wanted to fall through the floor."

He's hoping to being chosen for Jeopardy!, but if not, Tyler says he'll have other opportunities. There is Jeopardy! for college students and adults.

He said there is something he's looking forward to even more than a chance to compete on Jeopardy!. Tyler, who has four sisters, said his father and stepmother are expecting a son in September.

"I've always wanted a brother," he said.

Tyler has competed in the state geography bee since fourth grade, and says he's hoping for some geography categories if he makes it to the show.

"It's not just one thing for Jeopardy!," he said. "In Jeopardy!, you have to know everything."

He is on the school's honor roll and says he already has plans for after he graduates from college.

"I want to design roller coasters," Tyler said. "I think they're the best things in the world."

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