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BY LINDLEY ESTES
The first "Jeopardy!" question Emily Gilmore correctly guessed was about the Boston Celtics.
She was 6 years old in her parents' living room and knew then that she wanted to be on the game show someday.
"It was a show that adults played, and I got the right answer," she said.
Last September, after seven years of taking qualifying tests and hoping the show's producers would contact her, she got to be a contestant.
Her stint on "Jeopardy!" will air Thursday.
"It was incredible even before we started playing the game, just walking on the stage," said Gilmore, 32. "I felt like it was the coolest thing I've ever done. The fact that I ended up there is amazing."
Out of the 100,000 people who take the qualifying test online every year, about 2,000 are called to audition and 400 appear on the show.
To prepare, Gilmore said she brushed up on state capitals and presidents, and read books about the game itself.
She said that her nervousness about playing vanished once she was on the stage, though.
"It was so much fun," she said. "And there was a real camaraderie between the contestants. It's a really thrilling experience you can never do again."
Gilmore said host Alex Trebek was a lot more charming than she expected.
"He told me that I look like his daughter, who is also named Emily," she said. Gilmore teaches Latin at Stafford High School, which she also attended.
"The students have been hounding me about it since I got back," she said. "They're really excited about it."
But Gilmore said she's not sure if she'll be able to watch herself on television.
Gilmore is at least the third local Latin teacher to appear on "Jeopardy!" in recent years. Liberty High School Latin teacher Lori Kissell, a Stafford resident, competed in the show's teachers' tournament in 2011, winning $50,000.
Emily Jusino, a Courtland High graduate, was teaching at the Governor's Latin School in Richmond in summer 2010 when she was invited on the show. She won nearly $19,000.
Gilmore said that even though the experience was thrilling, there's something sad about achieving her life-long dream.
"Now it's weird because I don't have it to want to do," she said.
Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976
WHAT: Stafford High School Latin teacher Emily Gilmore competes on "Jeopardy!"WHEN: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. WHERE: ABC