GeoBee winners find their way to state championships
BENNINGTON — Don't tell these geography students you can't get there from here. They already know the way.
A half-dozen local Northshire students qualified for the state National Geographic State of Vermont GeoBee Championship at Southern Vermont College on March 29.
The competitors, school champions, qualified by surviving classroom competitions that led to schoolwide GeoBees, where they had to outlast the best at their school.
Those school champions then advanced to the state championships.
Earning their way to the state GeoBee this year were Mettawee School sixth-grader John Smith, eighth-grader Brett Rosenbauer from The Dorset School, seventh-grader Jack Citera from Flood Brook Elementary, eighth-grader Vanessa Kusel of Long Trail School, seventh-grader Isaac Vernon of Manchester Elementary Middle School and eighth-grader Eli White of Maple Street School.
They earned the right to join close to 100 fellow geography students from throughout Vermont to compete for a top prize of $1,000 as well as a trip to Washington for the National Championship, which will be held at National Geographic Society headquarters from May 19 through 22.
Just to survive the school competition and qualify for the state GeoBee wasn't easy.
John Smith, for example, had to survive the hotly contested Mettawee School GeoBee competition that was held in January.
Third-grade instructor, Mark Rampone, organized the event and also served as the official judge and scorekeeper. School librarian, Kelly Ahlfeld, moderated the GeoBee and art teacher, Amy Harris, pitched in as timekeeper. But the center attraction was the kids.
"I am so proud of all the students who were on stage answering the challenging questions in front of the whole school," said Mettawee Principal Brooke DeBonis. "They were all so prepared and poised."
The Mettawee finalists for the Geography Bee were the top finishers for each room, plus a few extra contestants who earned a spot by answering at least six of seven qualifying questions. After an elimination round, seven finalists moved on to the final contest: Weston Graf, Lily Sargent, Alyssa Sargent, Nahui Navarrete, Luke McChesney, Robert Smith, and of course, John Smith.
Our ensuing Mettawee champion is no stranger to geography. "I've always enjoyed science and reading history and maybe that helped a bit," Smith said quietly. "But long before I ever even heard about GeoBee, I loved reading the National Geographic Magazine. I'm pretty sure that came in handy."
In the end, the Vermont state champion turned out to be Vegarandhura (Vega) Tariyal, a sixth-grader from Charlotte Central School.
But with the best geography students in the area putting their minds together, they'll be planning their route back to the state competition before too long.
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