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Encouraging kids: New timeslot, technology coupled with community support bolsters Alaska studies trivia contest


Cheering on your favorite pre-teen with a penchant for trivia just became a bit easier. The Big Wild Life Trivia Contest will take on a new timeslot: after work and before bedtime. The departure from a daytime event was based on the goal of giving parents, siblings, friends and the community the chance to see kids compete.


“The students put a lot of time and effort into reviewing the study guide and quizzing themselves all with the goal of making it into the live rounds,” said Julie Saupe, President and CEO of Visit Anchorage. “We hope moving it to the evening will allow families the chance to rally a cheering squad for students and all their hard work.”


Since 1991, middle school students from the Anchorage School District have come together to compete at the Big Wild Life Trivia Contest.  The event, organized by Visit Anchorage, challenges students to do a deep dive about Anchorage through their Alaska Studies course. Four semi-finalists from each participating school will compete in live rounds at the William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center on November 9th from 6:30 – 8 p.m.


Timing was not the only change this year. The annual competition was put on the web, with semi-finalists determined through online test scores. This year five schools entered the contest, with the semi-finalists set to compete in person on November 9th.


And thanks to sponsors, even the jeopardy-style buzzers and stage set-up have been upgraded – previously, an overhead projector and marker was used for scoring. The upgrade allows up to 12 students to compete at once, versus nine as in years past.


“While much of the curriculum is based on historical facts, this marks our 26th year of putting on the contest. It was time to usher in a new era,” said Saupe. “We know technology is a draw for young people, so we put the test online to allow students 24-hour access and to keep the interest of middle schoolers.”


The questions and study guides are written by Visit Anchorage staff with content varying year to year. 


Being on stage is not the only role where students can be in the spotlight. The School Business Partnership class at Central Middle School will be assisting with stage set up, score keeping and AV needs. And prior to the event, students enrolled in Visit Anchorage’s Critter Academy are learning how to dress and perform as part of Visit Anchorage’s critter chorus. Their work culminates in a performance to the iconic “Wild About Anchorage” jingle the night of the contest.


This year’s event will be hosted by Cary Carrigan, longtime local radio personality, and Mayor Ethan Berkowitz will provide the keynote. The judges this year will be Wanda Green (NAACP, Alaska), Tam Agosti-Gisler (Anchorage School Board) and Chris Hodgin (ranked as one of the world’s highest licensed referees in martial arts). Light refreshments will be served to those cheering on the students.


The winner and semi-finalists of the contest will be awarded prizes from the tourism industry like railroad tickets, sightseeing tours, hotel packages and restaurant gift certificates. In addition to prizes, the grand prize winner is invited to help the Mayor of Anchorage throw the switch at the holiday tree lighting in Town Square on November 25th.


The audience can also match wits with the students this year – each attendee will be given a slip of paper to write down their answers at the same time the students are quizzed. Those who complete the process will be asked to put their submissions in for a door prize drawing given away that night.


Schools participating this year:

  • Central Middle School of Science
  • Goldenview Middle School
  • Wendler Junior High
  • Family Partnership Charter School
  • Mirror Lake Middle School


Additional sources:

Erika Ninoyu, School Business Partnership Coordinator and Band Director

Central Middle School of Science

1405 E Street

Anchorage, AK 99501




B-roll opportunity:

students will be practicing in Critter University 11:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. at Central Middle School on both FRIDAY/Nov. 4th and MONDAY/Nov. 7th

*contact Erika Ninoyu regarding filming students


Teaser study guide questions:

  • What year did the first Alaska Territorial Legislature convene? (Answer: 1913)
  • What president came to Alaska in 1923 to drive the last spike into the Alaska Railroad? (Answer: President Warren G. Harding)
  • How many nights in Alaska does the average visitor stay? (Answer: 10 nights)
  • What percentage of the state is covered in glaciers? (Answer: 5% …..29,000 square miles)
  • How many miles of paved trails does Anchorage contain? (Answer: 120 miles)
  • How many resident moose call Anchorage home? (Answer: nearly 1,500)

Visit Anchorage’s mission is to attract and serve visitors to the Municipality of Anchorage while building and diversifying the Anchorage economy. Visit Anchorage’s marketing functions are funded by one-third of the bed tax collected by lodging facilities. One-third goes to the Municipality’s general fund, and one-third to service the bond debt and operations of the Anchorage Convention Centers. Visit Anchorage receives no state or federal funds. Visit www.Anchorage.net for more information.


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