“I’ll take Exceptional Teens for 200, Alex.”
“The answer is: 15-year-old Chamblee High School sophomore who made it to the final round of Teen Jeopardy and won $42,600.”
“Who is Kailyn LaPorte?”
Well, that didn’t actually happen on the television show Jeopardy but Kailyn LaPorte really did make it to the finals and finish as runner up on the show’s teen tournament.
LaPorte, who was born in Georgia and raised in the Chamblee area, said that her Chamblee Middle School academic bowl team coach John Donegan e-mailed her a link to the qualifying test for the teen tournament and she took it, not really expecting anything.
“I had taken [the test] the year before so I just took it again, not expecting anything to happen because nothing happened the previous year. I got the [acceptance] e-mail when I was on spring break and it was just really, really surprising,” LaPorte said.
She took the qualifying test along with 10,000 other students and managed to make the cut. The show was taped in Los Angeles on Dec. 6 and 7, and the final contestants were narrowed down from 15 teens from around the country who also passed the qualifying test.
“I was really, really nervous when I got there but once I got into the game and started playing it, that helped calm me down,” LaPorte said.
To prepare for the show, LaPorte brought some books to school and had her friends quiz her so she could practice answering in the form of a question. She also said that being on her high school’s academic bowl team helped her as well.
“Our academic bowl team has buzzers and going to practice helped me work on buzzing in quickly,” LaPorte said. She also explained that working with the academic bowl team also helped her answer questions at the drop of a hat. “Getting asked questions about trivia was good for getting [my] brain prepared for the recall…bringing up the facts.”
Aside from the academic bowl, LaPorte is also on the cross country team, soccer team and is a member of the German Club, so most of her free time is spent doing homework or studying. Her favorite subjects in school are social studies and literature and she enjoys reading adult fiction and fantasy books in her spare time.
When she was younger LaPorte had an ambitious dream of what she wanted to be when she grew up.
“I wanted to be an astronaut for a long time, but in fourth grade I found out that you needed perfect vision and I wear contacts, so it kind of stopped that dream,” LaPorte said.
Most of the $42,600 she won on the show will go toward paying for college but she’s still unsure of what school she wants to attend. LaPorte said she isn’t making too many plans for the future but she wants to spend some of her money on going to a concert because she’s never been to one before.
“I want to go see Franz Ferdinand, Snow Patrol, Muse or OK Go, but I think it would just be nice to see any band whose music I’ve heard just to get the experience,” LaPorte said.
Unlike the college tournament, Jeopardy’s teen tournament is a once in a lifetime chance, so once you’ve been a contestant on the show you can’t qualify to go on it again. LaPorte said that one question she missed that she will never forget was in the category ‘Copping Out at the Movies,’ about a bumbling detective who was featured on the silver screen.
“I said ‘The Pink Panther,’ instead of Inspector Closeau…but the category was ‘Copping Out at the Movies,’ so it wasn’t much help,” LaPorte said.