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CURRENT ISSUE:  October 22, 2007
VOL. 45, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Muslim leaders seek dialog with Christians
Retired Maj. Gen. says Abu Ghraib abuse worse than media reported
Library visits pay off for Jeopardy champ
from St. Francis
Rachel Millena is joined by her younger sister Rebecca on the set of the popular television quiz show after her victory.
Raul Millena photos

Ten-year-old Rachel Millena reads at least 10 books from the library each month. Besides preparing her to become a Renaissance woman, the hobby is already reaping other rewards. Earlier this month, the sixth-grader at St. Francis of Assisi School in Concord walked away with $28,000 as a top winner during Jeopardy Kids Week. Rachel’s segment of the popular television program aired Oct. 9.

When she and the other two contestants entered their final round, she had already racked up $16,000. She bet $12,000, then faced the final question: Name the only U.S. president who never lived in Washington, D.C. The answer? George Washington.

This question was a shoo-in for Rachel who devours American history the way some kids inhale fast foods and sodas. “There are so many good books to read,” Rachel shared during a phone interview with The Voice.

Rachel’s Jeopardy adventure began last fall when she saw an announcement on her favorite show about the kids’ competition. She asked her dad, Raul, a BART engineer, to register her online.

She became one of 10,000 registrants who, in March, took an online Jeopardy test. Each participant had 10 seconds to answer each of the 30 questions. By July, Rachel learned that she was one of the 200 finalists selected for an audition. She prepared for the competition in Los Angles by reviewing geography, history, U.S. presidents and literature.

A few weeks later, Jeopardy producers Fed-Exed a letter to Rachel saying she was one of 15 students, ages 10 to 12, who would compete during the Kids Week.

Was she jittery during the filming? “Very nervous,” affirmed Rachel, “but it didn’t show on TV because of my taking drama lessons after school.” Last week, she auditioned for the part of Sara Brown, the Salvation Army missionary in “Guys and Dolls, Jr.,” her school’s upcoming musical show.

Sister Noreen O’Connor, principal, is proud of the Jeopardy champion, who has been at St. Francis School since kindergarten.

Kids Jeopardy champion Rachel Millena poses with host Alex Trebek.
Raul Millena photos
“Rachel is really smart and self-confident, but she’s not a showoff,” Sister Noreen said, adding that the youngster “is to be admired for her intelligence and her courage.”

Besides her school work, drama classes and her reading hobby, Rachel also takes piano lessons, is an altar server at Mass, and loves to play golf as well as Scrabble. Her favorite novels include Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” and all of the Harry Potter books.

Her plans for the $28,000? Most of it will be saved for college, she said, but she’s going to keep enough cash to buy herself a laptop computer “pink or purple, I haven’t decided which, yet.”

And career-wise? “To maybe be a novelist, concert pianist, photojournalist, or reporter.”

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