MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 15, 2013

Dozens tax their brains for schools

By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Mayor Bob Coburn opened the 2013 Trivia Night at the Muskogee Civic Center with a thank-you to the 350 people who showed up to test their brainpower.

“I’m glad you are all here to be an investment,” Coburn said.

Dubbed “The Battle of the Brains,” this year’s event marks the fifth anniversary for the trivia night, which is put on by the Education Foundation of Muskogee.

Proceeds from the benefit go into an endowment, the interest of which is used to provide grants to teachers in the Muskogee area. The endowment allows 4 percent of the interest to be meted out each year.

Randa Johnson, the president of the Education Foundation board, said a stronger community is why the event is so important.

“The more we can help support the teachers, the stronger our schools get, and that gives us a stronger community,” he said. “That’s why we put such a priority on this. There’s a crunch on schools right now, and we want to be able to help the teachers and kids.”

About 350 people were seated in the arena of the Civic Center on Friday night, assembled into teams and ready to answer questions about topics such as television and music pop culture, “The Wizard of Oz,” and more. There were six categories with six questions each.

Roger Davis, a local artist, said this wasn’t the first time he had brought a team to the event.

“It’s always a fun and entertaining night,” he said. “Then we all find out how stupid we really are.

“The night is all about supporting education, plus it’s February, so it’s nice that everyone can get out and have a social event even though the weather is bad.”

Davis also said he’d assembled a team based on genuine brainpower.

“I don’t know if it’s a crack team,” he said. “We’ll see about that later.”

After each round, runners collected the answer sheets from each team and delivered them to the judges, who assessed them and tallied the scores. Teams also were allowed to purchase “mulligans,” which gave them extra chances to correctly answer a question.

Trivia masters were not allowed to use their smartphones or talk to other tables, and the master of ceremonies, Jermaine Mondaine, encouraged the eager competitors to keep their voices low when discussing their answers.

“If I can hear you up here, everyone else can hear you too,” he said.  

In addition to the trivia, there was also a silent cake and pie auction that gave participants a chance to help the cause and satisfy a sweet tooth.

Bethany Bowline Shipley, the treasurer for the Education Foundation, said that although the event takes a lot of planning, it’s always fun.

“We have fun working it and seeing everyone come out,” she said. “It’s well worth it.

“We’re going to be able to give out $14,300 worth of grants this March because of our trivia night last year. We hope to be able to do at least that much again next year.”

You can reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or tsloat@muskogeephoenix.com.