Greeley scholars match wits against White Plains’ best on academic quiz show

Pictured during a break in taping are Nicole Diamente (academic advisor), Rishab Guha, William Mantell, host Jared Cotter, Samuel Caywood (team captain), Paul Kim and Kamil Sadik (team alternate).
November 13, 2009
by Susie Pender

The thirteenth season of “The Challenge” kicks off next Wednesday, November 18 at 6:30 p.m. when Horace Greeley High School scholars match wits with their counterparts from White Plains High School in round one of this award-winning high school quiz show on MSG Varsity cable channel (Cablevision’s iO TV, Channel 14). 

“The Challenge” began as a Long Island contest 13 years ago and now includes the entire tri-state area: Long Island (with Nassau and Suffolk as two distinct regions), the Bronx, Brooklyn, Westchester/Lower Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Connecticut. This season, 184 high schools will be participating with the goal of becoming the Tri-State Challenge Champion and winning $10,000 for their school and $500 for each team member competing in that final round. 

Representing Horace Greeley will be returning seniors Samuel Caywood (team captain), William Mantell and Paul Kim, junior Rishab Guha and sophomore Kamil Sadik (team alternate). The academic advisors to the team are Nicole Diamente and Gerard Furey.

Training is intense, but fun

The Greeley academic challenge team practices two mornings a week as well as during the Day 5 activity period, explained advisor Diamente. The whole team totals more than 30 students, from which Greeley sends four teams to Saturday tournaments throughout the school year.

On Wednesday afternoons, the group enjoys participating in “QuizNet,” where they play live online against other schools throughout the United States. “All thirty plus students come to play on Wednesdays,” Diamente noted. “Everyone contributes, everyone knows something. Even if they can’t get to a tournament on Saturday, they can play QuizNet on Wednesdays.” 

On QuizNet, questions are tossed out for anyone to answer. In the room where the Greeley students are gathered, they call out suggested answers. “Part of the fun is them trying as a group to make a decision on the right answer to submit,” Diamente explained. “Then Paul Kim, our bionic typist, sends in the Greeley response. Right now, in the pool of 50 schools participating nationwide in QuizNet, Greeley is ranked number one.” 

New this year on “The Challenge”

New this season is Jared Cotter, former FUSE TV host and a popular semi-finalist from American Idol, who serves as moderator, quizzing competing high school teams on their knowledge of history, arts and literature, current events, math and science. 

Fans of the show can also visit a dedicated page on Facebook that provides a behind-the-scenes look at the actual studio tapings and offers visitors a chance to sound off, share their experiences and cheer on their high school team.

“The Challenge” is produced in partnership with Cablevision’s education initiative, Power to Learn – the company’s ongoing commitment to the development and learning of students in the tri-state area.  The show has received a Beacon Award – the industry’s highest award for public affairs excellence – as well as a New England Cable & Telecommunications (NECTA) Award for Public Service and Excellence in Cable Television.

More information on “The Challenge,” including standings, statistics and short contestant bios, is available on

Taking The Challenge.  The academic team from Horace Greeley High School will face the team from White Plains High School in the first round competition of MSG Varsity’s The Challenge, airing November 18 at 6:30 PM exclusively on MSG Varsity on Cablevision’s iO Channel 14.  Pictured during a break in taping are Nicole Diamente (academic advisor), Rishab Guha, William Mantell, host Jared Cotter, Samuel Caywood (team captain), Paul Kim and Kamil Sadik (team alternate).

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