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Contact: Kathleen Harter, (906) 337-1104
The Painesdale Minds lived up to their name last Thursday, outwitting the competition to claim top honors in the sixth annual High School Local History Smackdown. The team of four juniors – Emily Manninen, Jonathan Kilpela, Katie Mattila, and Matt Heikkinen, coached by Ken Kangas – answered every question correctly through 10 rounds, demonstrating their knowledge of the history of stamp milling, voyageurs, mining company management, and even Finnish sister cities.
The Minds faced stiff competition from the 12 other teams who participated in the event. Tying for second place were Death's Drill Sergeants from Ontonagon and Lake Linden II from Lake Linden-Hubbell, while third place went to At Least It's Not Canada, also from Jeffers. Each of the 52 students who participated took center stage at the Calumet Theatre to field questions on topics as diverse as immigration history, natural resources, and mining terminology. Each also walked away with a tshirt, while the top teams received pizza parties. Not only did Manninen, Kilpela, Mattila, and Heikkinen take home the traveling Smackdown trophy – Jeffers' first – but they also won jump drives and earned a $100 gift certificate for their school library.
The Smackdown works something like a spelling bee. Teams are asked short-answer questions about local history. Two wrong answers eliminate them from play, leaving the last team standing as champions. Teams can pass on one question, and answers that are not clearly correct are referred to a panel of judges representing the four Copper Country counties. "Jeffers has always competed very well in the Smackdown," said Keweenaw National Historical Park’s Jo Urion. Added Kathleen Harter, also of Keweenaw NHP, "This particular team has been competing since they were freshmen, and their effort really paid off this year."
The contest is part of the Fourth Thursday in History program sponsored by Keweenaw National Historical Park. Additional support for this year’s Smackdown was provided by the Calumet Theatre, as well as Range Bank, River Valley State Bank, Pat's Foods and Festival Foods, Keweenaw Memorial Medical Center, Homestead Graphics, and the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.