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‘Brain Games’ fundraiser for adult literacy scheduled

By Staff | Mar 13, 2015

Organizers of the Eastern Panhandle’s longest-running trivia tournament are spicing up this year’s competition with a format change borrowed from a long-running television quiz show.

The 18th annual Brain Games will be held Sunday, April 12, at James Rumsey Technical Institute, 3274 Hedgesville Road, west of Martinsburg. Registration and player check-in will begin at noon, with the games scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

The event is a fundraiser for Literacy Volunteers of the Eastern Panhandle. The Martinsburg-based organization helps adults in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties improve basic literacy skills in reading, writing and numeracy. For community members whose first language is not English, it provides access to English language instruction. LVEP’s services are provided free of charge by volunteer tutors trained to state and national standards.

As has been the case since the first Brain Games in 1998, the contest will consist of four rounds of 25 questions each. Teams of three to six players will have 15 minutes to come up with the answers in each round. Questions will include a mix of pure trivia and general knowledge of subjects ranging from history, geography, and literature to sports, pop culture and more.

In the first three rounds, as before, teams will be credited with one point for each correct answer. This year’s final round, however, “could change everything because it will be worth 75 points,” said Judy Malone, Brain Games coordinator.

Round Four will be played “Jeopardy!”-style. The questions — phrased in the form of “answers” as they are on the popular TV show — will be grouped into five categories and valued from one to five points in ascending order of difficulty. Correct responses will earn a team the corresponding number of points, but incorrect guesses will result in those points being deducted from a team’s total.

“The risk-reward factor will add an element of strategy that didn’t exist before,” said Bob Fleenor, a former five-time “Jeopardy!” champion who wrote this year’s quiz. “How aggressively do you want to play?”

It also means the battle for the trophies to be awarded to the top three teams will be wide-open, according to Fleenor.

“In the past, many teams were already out of the running before the final round,” he said. “Now, every team will have at least a mathematical chance to win.”

“It will be fun and exciting and challenging,” Malone said.

In another change this year, the registration fee of $25 per player — which hasn’t increased in many years — will include lunch. Pizza, sandwiches, soft drinks and other beverages, cupcakes and other food items will be available free of charge to all participants. Donations will be accepted but not required.

Participants will be encouraged to browse a selection of donated books, games and puzzles which will be available for purchase. Anyone who has such items to donate for resale may bring them on the day of the event.

There will also be a silent auction of items, including gift certificates, donated by a number of Eastern Panhandle businesses.

“Remember, every penny you spend at Brain Games helps teach an adult to read,” Malone said.

Registration forms have been sent to past Brain Games participants. If you didn’t receive one or are interested in forming a team, contact Malone at 304-754-7581 or at LVEPBrainGames@aol.com.

Literacy Volunteers of the Eastern Panhandle (LVEP) is based in Martinsburg. LVEP helps adults improve their basic literacy skills in reading, writing, and numeracy, and, for community members whose first language is not English, provides access to English language instruction.

For more than 30 years, LVEP has offered tutoring in basic literacy and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) in both one-on-one and small-group environments, based on availability.

Services are provided free of charge by volunteer tutors, who are trained to Literacy West Virginia and ProLiteracy America standards. LVEP’s tri-county literacy project serves Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan County adults who need to develop or improve basic literacy skills, including those individuals for whom English is not their first language. Tutoring outcomes focus on basic skills, knowledge, and attitudes that empower students, often low-income, to function well in their families, communities and workplaces.

LVEP is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and is a registered charity in the state of West Virginia. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. LVEP is a United Way Partner Agency, a CFC Federation Member #55578, an affiliate of Literacy WV, and ProLiteracy America. For more information about LVEP, go to www.lvep-wv.org/.