‘Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’: Lawrence teacher appears on ‘Jeopardy!’

photo by: Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Elizabeth Devereaux, a Southwest Middle School teacher, appears on the game show "Jeopardy!" during an episode that aired on July 21, 2021.

When Elizabeth Devereaux was in middle school, she was voted by her classmates as “most likely to appear on ‘Jeopardy!'”

Last week, the Lawrence middle school teacher saw her classmates’ prediction become a reality when she appeared on the Wednesday episode of the beloved trivia show that requires answers to be provided in the form of a question. Devereaux, a teacher at Southwest Middle School, appeared on the 213th episode of the show’s 37th season.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an incredible honor,” Devereaux recently told the Journal-World. “I’m so grateful I got to do it.”

As her middle school classmates noticed, trivia is a big part of Devereaux’s life. Devereaux grew up watching “Jeopardy!” and after graduating from college, she hosted trivia events.

But stepping on the “Jeopardy!” stage was a whole new experience. She said it was overwhelming at first as the show’s producers prepared the contestants for filming. Eventually they held a rehearsal on the show’s sound stage, which was the contestants’ first time on the show’s famous set.

“Walking in there and never having seen it (in person), I was super nervous,” Devereaux said. “Things look a little smaller in person than you imagine them on TV. It was a different perspective.”

photo by: Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Elizabeth Devereaux, right, a Southwest Middle School teacher, appears on the game show “Jeopardy!” during a taping in April 2021. The episode, which was hosted by ABC anchor Robin Roberts, left, aired on July 21, 2021.

Devereaux said she had a “hit of adrenaline” realizing her appearance on “Jeopardy!” was really happening. But when the filming began, Devereaux said host Robin Roberts made her and the other contestants feel at ease. Roberts, who is also an anchor for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” is one of the several guest hosts filling in for the show as it searches for a full-time replacement for longtime host Alex Trebek, who died last November.

Although she didn’t win the competition, Devereaux was happy to compete. She said her favorite part of the experience was selecting a Daily Double on the board and answering it correctly.

“I was pretty excited about that,” she said.

Devereaux said she applied to be a contestant at the beginning of 2020 and passed a few rounds of tests later that year. In March she was contacted to be a contestant. She then flew to Los Angeles a few weeks later.

Although taping of her appearance occurred during the school year, Devereaux could not tell her students that she was on the show. She said she’d be curious to see if any of her students who are still at Southwest Middle School this fall had caught the show.

However, Devereaux did reach out to her former teachers to let them know about her accomplishment. As an educator, she said she knew she would want to hear from one of her former students in similar circumstances.

“If any of my students ever did this, I would definitely want to know,” she said.

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