Tighe School Wins the South Jersey 2015 Think Day Competition!
March 30, 2015
This Saturday, at Mainland Regional High School, the T.H.I.N.K. Day competition took place. This competition is a regional trivia contest between 13 schools across South Jersey. Our team of 7th and 8th graders represented Tighe School, and some of the other schools included in the competition were Belhaven Middle School, Ventnor Middle School, and Hammonton Middle School. Our diligent Tighe T.H.I.N.K. Day team had been practicing since that grueling test in January, all leading up to this competition. Our leader, Mrs. Styles-Langraf, has worked harder than any of the students on the team. Our Tighe team had been yearning to win the trivia competition, determined to beat our long-time rivals, Belhaven Middle School, since we had learned that our team hadn’t won since 1998: Mrs. Langraf’s first year. Teddy G. even suggested that she retire; maybe we would win on her first and last!
When I arrived at the competition on Saturday, I was a bundle of nerves breaking at the seams with anxious electricity. Luke S. and I immediately began to practice questions; this was the only thing that we could do to calm Luke’s nerves other than allowing him to scream his head off, for he was the most energetic and funniest person on our team; most of the time, his humor was spontaneous!
“Who was the youngest president?” I’d ask; he’d scream like a banshee: “Theodore Roosevelt!”
This went on until it was time to start, the nervous chatter of the teams surrounding us ringing in my ears. By this time, Luke had broken out in a cold sweat because it was time for first round to begin. Even though he was not in, he was so excited for the event that we had been practicing for months on end. A tall, slender brainiac in a tacky tweed jacket and wire-rimmed copper glasses walked up to the podium and adjusted his glasses, watching the crowd with anxious hazel eyes.
“Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the T.H.I.N.K. Day Competition 2015. We will begin by sitting all of those who will compete in round one at their corresponding tables,” he murmured in a voice that somewhat resembled Jabba the Hutt. I swallowed as everyone else did; we were going into the belly of the beast. The questions flew back and forth at the ‘First-Rounders,’ the team answering mostly everything correctly.
“Question five, an audio question.” Audio? I thought to myself. The clip played. All of the parents in the crowd collectively sucked in air.
“Weezer,” my father whispered to me. Uh-oh. Weezer was a 90’s band! No seventh or eighth grader would possibly know this; now I knew why all the parents gasped. HONK! The buzzer sounded, letting the participants know that time was up. Our tweed-suited, wire-rimmed announcer asked each table for their answers, and nobody even had a remotely correct guess. Now it was our turn. The crowd knew our table didn’t have the correct answer, inevitably losing their cheering momentum. We, too, were all giving up on life itself, so when Mackenzie S. said, “Weezer,” all of our jaws dropped. Once the tall man announced that the correct answer was Weezer, we saw everybody at the table high five Katie C., a member of the team. We later found out that she listened to Weezer (and all of those other goth/metal/grunge bands that none of us would even dare to listen to), and as strangely ironic as it may seem, the very same Weezer song had been playing in her earbuds moments before the onslaught of trivia.
Then round two came our way; our turn, our time to shine in the unflattering limelight of the Mainland Regional High School gymnasium. Round two started with Tighe School getting most questions correct. We found out that it was a five-way tie for first place after first round, and that Tighe School was one of those five schools. Belhaven, show us mercy! Just let us win already!
Between the second and third rounds, there was a 25 minute lunch break. This lunch break was definitely a low point in my career as a human: my nerves were turned up to 11, I was shaking, and I had a twitch in my eye. When pizza was offered, I was too nervous to eat, and I had to use the bathroom every five minutes. I was in meltdown mode because I was supposed to be a third-round player. Once it was time to go, I regained my composure; I was ready to go and hopefully watch the parents scream in frustration when they realized that their kids were smarter than them.
I walked out to the round table of death and began to talk, because that’s what I do when I’m nervous. Mr. Announcer began speaking over me, though, so I didn’t have much of a chance to ramble nonsense and annoy my teammates half to death. At this time, someone came around to give us a paper displaying the standings after round one and two. We were second to Belhaven by 10 points. Round three began: it was much harder than round one or two, but we held our own. Round three has 30 questions, and you are able to substitute your players after questions 10 and 20. After question 10, I was still allowed to be seated at the table, and for that, I was thankful. After question 20, Mrs. Styles-Landgraf pulled me out for Alec Freedman, a good substitute for me. I dashed to the bathroom. It was the nerves.
When I walked back into the gymnasium, Mrs. Styles-Landgraf called and gestured for me to hurry over the table; Alec was gone. “Sit down, Mike,” Mrs. Styles-Langraf ushered me in hurriedly. Apparently, the ‘Third-Rounders’ wanted me back in round three, and Alec had volunteered to leave in my place. This meant a lot to me because I had never thought of myself as a great player, but they wanted me in the last 10 questions.
I had provided the answer for a few of the last questions and then…it was over. We stood up and paced, agonizing over whether we would win or not. We figured we didn’t even have a chance because, like I said, Tighe School hadn’t won in 17 years. Mr. Announcer walked back out 15 minutes later, and by this time, we were sure we wouldn’t win.
“In third place…” the man announced, “Hammonton!” Hammonton reluctantly walked to the front of the gym for their trophies, obviously flabbergasted that they weren’t in first place. Our team watched as they shuffled off to the side of the gymnasium.
“In second place…” the man announced, “Belhaven!” Belhaven was looking for first, and some were on the verge of tears when they slowly moped up to the front. I was pretty sure that one of them was crying.
“In first place…” the man announced, “E.A. Tighe Middle School!” The screams from our school’s area were insanely loud; we hoisted Luke into the air, the little dude shrieking with joy almost to the point of tears. Everything seemed to run in slow motion; is that a police siren? Nope. Just the girls and Luke shrieking. We sped to the front of the gym and collected our trophies, throwing our “champion” t-shirts on and shoving our trophies in front of us as the cameras snapped. All of us would remember this day for years to come, and not just because we have photographs as memoirs. We would remember this momentous day in Tighe history mostly because of Mrs. Styles-Langraf’s teaching method: she gave us all of the impossible questions during practice, leaving us feeling deflated in the months to come, but then, when we reached the big show, everything was so extremely easy that winning was a breeze!
2016 will surely be a repeat!
Congratulations to Tighe School’s 2015 Think Day Champions! Front Row: Megan C., Mackenzie S., Catherine A., Michael F., Teddy G., Quint A. Standing: Kai T., Luke S., Miss Magel, Sofia G., Alec F., Gavi J., Katie C., Colin M., and Mrs. Styles-Langraf