Owen Thompson wins middle school Geography Bee for the second year in a row

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Owen Thompson and Grant Wrich competed in the final round of the Geography Bee school event. Thompson won the final competition by defeating the other school finalists.

Lauren Tomita, Staff Writer

On January 11, seventh-grade student Owen Thompson defeated nine other finalists and won the annual school Geography Bee for the second time. He will now advance in the competition and will potentially competing against other students in the state competition if he passes the written test.

The Geography Bee is a program that takes middle school students from around the country and has them participate in a series of competitions related to geography. It gives students a new way to learn in social studies.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to have fun learning social studies and and have a chance to earn money for college,” said Geography Department Chair, Mr. Cy Fredrick.

The winner of the national Geography Bee will receive a 50,000 dollar scholarship for college, according to Fredrick.

The Geography Bee began with a preliminary competition where all middle school students in social studies classes at Faith Lutheran answered a series of questions. The winner of each social studies class took a written test that narrowed the competitors down to nine students that competed in front of the school. The winner was determined from that group of people. This year, middle school students Kenneth Thompson, Denida Rahmani, Grant Wrich, Stephan Orlovich, Jax Lewis, Josh Diaz, and Michala Du Paix advanced to the school competition which took place on January 11.

The school finalists felt a mix of emotions when they entered the Geography Bee.

“I enjoy geography, but I’m excited and nervous for the competition,” said Rahmani prior to the Geography Bee.

Some competitors in the Geography Bee prepared for the event. Thompson studied maps and apps to prepare for the school competition.

The finalists felt nervous during the event.

“At first I was pretty nervous, and I didn’t know because everyone was doing so well, especially when it came down to the last round. That was pretty tough because we both got the first two questions right, and I started getting nervous,” said Thompson.

Thompson won the Geography Bee and felt joyful when he won.

“It was really a surprise when I won. It was really, really exciting and especially because everyone was cheering,” said Thompson.

This is the second year in a row that Thompson won the school Geography Bee.

“It’s fun to do it again with people who love geography as much as I do,” said Thompson.

Thompson advanced to the state competition in 2015. He placed in the top five, but did not make it to the national competition.

“I tied with a seventh grader from Reno. To go onto nationals, you have to get first. The only person who made it from last year was an eighth grader from Elko,” said Thompson.

Thompson is using tools to preparing for this competition.

“For Christmas, I got a bunch of National Geographic study guides for the Geography Bee. I’ve been using those to prepare and study because they give you the same kind of format that will be on the test,” said Thompson.

Although Faith Lutheran has participated in the competition in previous years, no student has made it to the national competition in Washington DC judged by Alex Trabek. According to Thompson, there will be a change in advancing to the state competition. The written test will now be taken online. Thompson feels confident about the upcoming state competition in Reno on April 11.

“Now that I know what it’s like, I think I have a better chance of winning and possibly going onto the national competition,” said Thompson.

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