Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Local teen to compete on ‘Jeopardy’

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Tom Fedor⁄The Gazette
Delivery trucks parked in a row and filled with caases of cookies are unloaded into vehicles. Theresa Tokarz of Walkersville, a.k.a. ‘‘the cookie mom” for Girl Scout Troop 81129 at Glade Elementary School, looks on as workers place boxes into her van. Area Girl Scout representatives picked up dozens of cases for delivery on Wednesday afternoon.
Maria Bennici, 16, a junior at Walkersville High School, had no problems with nerves when she took part in a competitive preliminary round of questions for ‘‘Jeopardy Teen Tournament” in New York. It was the second year in a row that Maria progressed beyond the initial online audition, where she bested hundreds of other teens around the country in a 50-question session in September.

She and her father, Frank, spent a night at the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel in November, and she competed against dozens of other teens for a shot at appearing on the television game show.

‘‘I guess I just like answering questions,” said Maria, who is also a member of the Walkersville High academic team. ‘‘It’s fun for me.”

Maria will appear on Wednesday’s broadcast of ‘‘Jeopardy Teen Tournament,” which can be viewed locally at 7:30 p.m., on ABC Channel 7. Maria taped the episode last month in Los Angeles but is not allowed to say how she did on the show. Her whole family came along for the trip, including mother Sensovann, brothers Matthew, 8, Charles, 6, and Anthony, 14, cousin Kesar Som, 11, and two of her aunts.

In the Los Angeles studio, Maria tested herself against the best teen trivia hounds in the country.

‘‘I’m not going to say it was easy or anything,” she said. ‘‘It was a bit challenging.”

Maria prepared for the show by borrowing books from her academic team coaches, the husband and wife team Eric and Becky Reickel. The team last year won the regular season, and finished runner-up in Frederick County Public Schools’ academic team tournament.

‘‘We have a chance to win our ninth straight regular season championship in a row this year,” Eric Reickel said last week, adding that Maria, participating for a third year, is the team’s top scorer.

The team’s practices are perfect for a ‘‘Jeopardy” warm-up, Reickel said.

‘‘Our practices are very intense, very high-energy,” he said. ‘‘Really, it’s the same thing: you’re hearing questions, and you’re ringing a buzzer.”

Maria watches the game show ”pretty much every night,” she said. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s a particularly ambitious student — her current course load consists of AP everything — environmental science, composition, psychology and statistics.

‘‘I paid attention in my classes,” she said.

Once the academic team season ends, she’ll be warming up for the spring track and field season, she said.

Fresh heritage revival takes root in Thurmont

The Thurmont Heritage Club, headed up by Joe Eyler, met for the first time last month to discuss the possibility of starting up a new event to be called Thurmont Heritage Days.

The club will also seek to boost local church attendance among Thurmont area young people, according to a flier distributed at town hall, by holding activities that may include a church cook-off and old time games.

For more information about the club and its goals, call Eyler at 301-271-2023.

Several earn spots on McDaniel dean’s list

Three Thurmont and six Walkersville students made the deans list at McDaniel College for the fall 2007 semester, according to a press release from the college.

From Thurmont, Amanda Farr and Sarah Free received highest honors, and Anna Lynch received high honors.

From Walkersville, Patrick Johnson received highest honors, Ashley Beall received high honors, and Andrew Velnoskey, Jacquelyn Buehrle, Natalie Hartman and Travis Kinder earned honors.

McDaniel College is a private college in Westminster (Carroll County), with 1,700 undergraduate and 1,300 part-time graduate students.

Students earning a grade point average of 3.5-3.69 achieve honors; students earning a grade point average of 3.7-3.89 achieve high honors, and 3.9 or higher is highest honors.

Do you have an item for North County Notes? Contact reporter Jeremy Hauck at 301-846-2127, e-mail or fax news to 301-846-2124.