Today’s news:

Poly Prep alum takes Jeopardy challenge

Marine Park−raised Kadeem Cooper isn’t fazed by bright lights or big questions.

Cooper is among 15 of the country’s brightest college students competing in the “Jeopardy!” 2009 College Championship, which airs May 4−15 on ABC.

The 20−year−old attended Poly Prep Country Day School in Bay Ridge and is currently a junior majoring in politics at the University of Virginia. His area of expertise, he said, is pop culture.

Cooper conceded that the quiz show is more challenging live than it is on the couch. “The thing about the show is that the contestants know most of the answers (or questions, as the case is with “Jeopardy!”).

“The trick is buzzing in on time,” he said. “There are bright lights in your eyes, make−up people coming up to you on breaks — it’s show business.”

The winner will take home a grand prize of $100,000. The second−place contestant is guaranteed a minimum of $50,000, and third place takes home $25,000.

Since 1989, over 150 colleges and universities have been represented in the tournament, with nearly $3 million in cash prizes awarded to students. With a total of 13 appearances, Harvard has been represented more than any other school.

In October, Cooper tried out for the popular and long−running game show on a lark. He was watching “Jeopardy!” one day when he saw a commercial advertising online try−outs for the 2009 college championships. “I took the test and found out that I made it to the regional competition,” held in November in Washington D.C., he said. He took another test, and made the final cut.

“I have so much homework that I didn’t really have time to prepare,” he recalled. “I just did it for the experience.” Contestants received an all−expense−paid trip to Los Angeles, and were put up at the Hilton, Cooper noted. “It was an awesome experience,” he said.

He recommends that prospective contestants follow his example: “Just take a leap, take a risk, and maybe it will work out,” Cooper said.

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