Students Meet Match in ‘Ancient’ History

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Times Staff Writer

They weren’t much when it came to ancient history--topics such as Fidel Castro taking over Cuba, or “Roots” author Alex Haley taking on his family tree.

But five Studio City children proved they were experts on more contemporary topics Saturday when they won a television quiz show for their school.

Carpenter Avenue Elementary School defeated San Pedro’s Taper Avenue Elementary School in the season finale of “KidQuiz,” a children’s game show on television station KCBS.


Al Fasani, principal of Taper Avenue school, said 16 schools in the Los Angeles Unified District competed.

Members of the Taper Avenue school team, coached by Andy Vitalich, were Louie Montes DeOca, Franco Cittadino, Michael Morton, Tanya Taylor, Hsian Chao and Arthur Milliken.

The five-member Carpenter Avenue team racked up 230 points to Taper Avenue’s 130 during a three-match game taped last week and broadcast the same night.

The sixth-graders did it by correctly identifying pictures of such places as Yosemite Valley and Al Capone’s supposed underground hotel vault, and by answering questions about such people as Libyan Col. Moammar Kadafi and golfer Jack Nicklaus.

The children won medals for themselves and a trophy, an Apple computer and a World Book encyclopedia for their school.

They were not upset about the questions they missed.

“The show ‘Roots’ was a long time ago, as far as I know,” winning team member Jeri Wohlberg, 12, said of the acclaimed 1977 television series.


“We weren’t old enough to watch it. I think we have to read about it when we get to junior high,” she added.

Sixth-grade teacher Zorado Jones coached the Carpenter Avenue team through three preliminary rounds leading to Saturday’s championship game. She said the children boned up for the show with practice questions submitted by other students at the campus.

The real game show questions were created by the quiz show’s judge, Jeanne Yamamoto, the principal of Brooklyn Avenue Elementary School in East Los Angeles.

Yamamoto said quiz show participants were picked by Los Angeles Unified School District administrators from all sections of the city.

She said she spent eight hours preparing 100 questions on standard school subjects and current events. The questions had to have one-word answers that could be quickly blurted out by the first player to press a buzzer for show host Maclovio Perez.

Perez said he was surprised when children could not answer the Fidel Castro question. “But when they knew that etymology was the study of words, that blew my mind,” he said.


“Kids that age are young enough to be eager but old enough to know the answers to questions like that. They act natural. We don’t want a bunch of little Shirley Temples up there tap dancing.”

Other winning team members, Jon Sorenson, Jason Enzer, Jeff Polakow and Patrick Updegraff, said they got that message.

“You have to be aware of yourself on TV,” said Jeff, 11. “If you have a habit of tapping your foot or something, you have to not tap.”