Ms. Franckowiak Selected to Compete on Jeopardy
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Click. Click click. It’s Tuesday evening, and Biology teacher Ms. Franckowiak sits in front of her TV as Jeopardy questions flash up on the screen. She’s gripping a pen, poised to click right after host Alex Trebek finishes asking the question.
“You think it’s just about speed,” she explains. “But it’s not actually just about speed because you can’t ring in early, or [you won’t be able answer the question]. You have to be the first one to ring in after Alex is done reading the clue, and so I’ve been trying to practice that timing while I’ve been watching the show.”
Franckowiak has been interested in trivia since high school. “When I was in high school, I played Quiz Bowl, which was what we called It’s Academic where I’m from. I was very competitive and pretty good at it. I don’t think I seriously started looking up how to get on [Jeopardy] until I started teaching,” she said.
After a lengthy process, Franckowiak has been chosen to compete on Jeopardy. First, she had to take a 50 question online test, then she was pulled randomly from a group of applicants who scored high enough on the test to come for an in-person audition.
“It’s a written test when you get there, and the second half of the audition, you play a mock round of Jeopardy. They’ll call you up with two other people auditioning, and you answer like 10 clues. Then you do a mock interview, like Alex Trebek interviews contestants on the show. They record all of this and that’s how they get their contestant pool,” she said.
Franckowiak previously made it to the second half in 2014, but did not get a call back.
“They tell you that they’re going to keep you on file for a year and a half, and that you might hear from them or you might not,” said Franckowiak. “I didn’t hear from them after my 2014 audition and after a year and a half I was eligible then to put my name back in to audition again. In 2016, I auditioned again. They called me in February.”
Although some might be daunted by the idea of being on national television, Franckowiak isn’t too worried.
“Maybe I will feel more nervous when I get there. When I was in high school some of my Quiz Bowl stuff was televised,” she said. “A local PBS market isn’t the same as national TV. I know that.”
But, she says, when it comes to trivia, she has confidence she can do well. “I’ve always been pretty confident about my mind. Trivia is comfortable for me,” she said.
Franckowiak will be taping this week, and the show will be played in June.