For some time now, the Dallas Independent School District has been caught in a struggle to upgrade its sagging reputation. Recently, though, the DISD obtained a small but significant feather for its cap: For the first time in five years, a Dallas public school has won the Whiz Quiz championship. Unlike sports and arts contests, the Whiz Quiz is sort of like a local high school College Bowl – the General Electric- sponsored TV program that aired on CBS during the Fifties and Sixties.

For the past five years, scores of Dallas/Fort Worth area high schools have sent teams to compete in a single-elimination match of wits. These, students are pitted against each other to answer 5-, 10-, 15-, and 20-point questions. For example, here’s a 15-point question: “Biology is literally the study of life. What is the study of death called?” Answer: than-atology. Here’s a 20-pointer: “In March of 1960, President Kennedy signed an executive order creating the Peace Corps. Whom did he designate as its first director?” Answer: Sargent Shriver, his brother-in-law.

At the start of the 1981-82 season, 64 teams began practicing for the competition. By the end of May, the competition was down to two teams: Thomas Jefferson and W.T. White-both DISD schools. Thomas Jefferson came out the winner. Not only was this the first time a DISD school took the championship; it was also the first time a school from the DISD made it to the finals.

In the five-year history of the Whiz Quiz, two public schools have won (Southwest of the FWISD and Richland in Tarrant County) and two private schools have won (St. Mark’s and Jesuit, both in Dallas).

The 1982 season is starting in September, and once again, 64 teams will compete for the championship. The tournaments can be heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on WFAA radio.


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