The rules are simple — answer as many questions as you can, as quickly as you can.

To be a successful Quiz Bowl team, however, the players have to be quick on the buzzer, cool under pressure and filled to the brim with knowledge on a wide breadth of topics, from literature to sports trivia.

The Quiz Bowl team at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Brunswick has proven itself to be among the best in the state, as the seven-person team will be competing in the state competition on Jan. 21.

The St. Francis team, which is made up of seventh- and eighth-graders, won its region competition over the weekend, tying for first, and earning itself a spot among the 24 best teams in the state to compete in a couple of weeks.

“There’s a little a nervousness and a little excitement,” said Toni Tennent, the team’s coordinator and a teacher at St. Francis. “They were quite happy when they won region.”

The team will be traveling to Milledgeville on Jan. 21 for the PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades.

The Academic Bowl program had approximately 1,400 students from 59 public school systems and 21 independent schools participate in the 2014-15 school year.

The team will be spending this week and next preparing for their trip to Milledgeville, but Tennent said the nature of the competition only allows for so much preparation.

“We’re going to have a few extra practices next week,” she said. “It just depends on the questions you get. If you know them, you know them, and if you don’t then you don’t.”

Similar to the trivia game show Jeopardy, the contest involves two teams of five students going against each other. They are presented with a question, and the student to buzz in first gets the chance to answer.

“The way it works is the team that answers the most questions gets the first chance at a bonus round question, but if they miss one of those then the other gets it,” Tennent said.

Each round has 10 questions, with around six categories, which could include math, history, literature, science or social studies.

“There’s a vast amount of general knowledge to keep in your head,” Tennent said.

The team practices by going over questions asked in previous years, she said.

“We just practice answering questions,” she said. “We have various old competition questions that we just practice answering as fast as we can.”

The team hasn’t been to the state competition since 2014, so no student on this year’s team has competed at the state level before, Tennent said.

“The school will be wishing them good luck,” she said.

Spotlight on Schools appears Thursdays. Contact Lauren McDonald at or at 265-8320, ext. 322 to suggest a topic for a column.