"I'll take famous Bellflower residents for $1,000, Alex."

"This locally born and raised teacher at Woodruff Elementary School will be a featured contestant on `Jeopardy!' Wednesday night." "Steve Van Noord. Who is Steve Van Noord?"

"Correct."

OK, so maybe that question or answer never came up. But Van Noord did get a chance to fulfill a longtime dream recently when he was taped on an episode of the popular quiz show, and the rest of us will get a chance to see how he did when the show airs tonight at 7.

Van Noord is not allowed to reveal how he did until after the show. When asked if he's still working, Van Noord said, "I am still working, so you can extrapolate from that."

A longtime couch player of the game, which Van Noord said is so much easier, the 53-year-old third-grade teacher said about two years ago he took an online test for the show at the urging of family members.

He didn't think much of it, until a contestant producer called and asked him to come to Culver City to audition.

It was there Van Noord and several hundred other contestants took another test, interviewed and played mock games.

Van Noord left with no idea whether he'd ever hear from the show again, being told only that he was now in a contestant pool. About a year later, however, Van Noord was asked if he'd be willing to be an alternate contestant for the "Teacher Tournament," in case any contestants had to bow out.


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None did, and Van Noord got to spend a day in the green room of the game show studio.

However, because of his willingness to stand in, Van Noord moved to a more prime area of the contestant pool and got a chance to appear on a regular showing of "Jeopardy!"

Before the show, contestants were given tips on strategy and working those fickle clickers. The recipe for success, Van Noord said, was a combination of knowledge and reaction time.

After host Alex Trebek finishes reading an answer, players have to react to a series of lights - jump early and they're temporarily locked out, first in after the light blinks gets first shot at the question and five seconds to answer. While revealing nothing about his outcome, Van Noord did note that he had a great time and was treated exceptionally well.

Van Noord's wife, Michelle, and his 15-year-old daughter, Caylene, attended the taping, and Van Noord says he has rented out part of Don Jose's Mexican Restaurant, 11805 Artesia Blvd. in Artesia, for a viewing party.

greg.mellen@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2093