Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Havre’s Dolan Tuss traveled to Billings again Thursday to be ready to compete in the Montana National Geographic Bee for the fifth straight year. Dolan has qualified for the state competition every year he has been eligible to compete in the geography bee. “It just comes naturally,” he said. The state competition is being held today, with the winner qualifying to compete at the national level in Washington, D.C., May 20-21. Dolan said he has been interested in geography ever since his parents, Paul Tuss and Pam Hillery, started quizzing him on state capitols while riding in the family car when he was about 5. Pam said they then started asking him what states they would pass through if they drove from, say, Maine to California. “He would name them all, one after the other,” she said. He said his father gave him a tip last year that might have helped him finish better at the state bee, and he wishes he had tried it. Paul told him jokingly that whenever he did not know an answer, he should just say “Fidel Castro.” A question he missed was on the location of the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, when the U.S. government unsuccessfully backed Cuban rebels trying to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. Dolan answered “Haiti,” instead of “Cuba.” “If I had said Fidel Castro I might have gotten it right,” he said. According to the National Geographic Web site, each school holds a bee, with the winner of that competition taking a written test. The students who have the top 100 scores on the test qualify for the state bee, held at Montana State University-Billings in Montana. Dolan said he is thankful Karla Geda has been teaching at the Havre Middle School. When he entered the sixth grade, the school decided it would no longer sponsor an official competition in the bee. It could only be done as a club event, he said. Geda, who has been hired as a principal for the school district next year, organized a club and gave the tests after school for the last three years, he said. Dolan and his mother both said they hope someone picks up the ball and continues to administer the test to let students compete. The club competition has grown, Dolan added, with some 12 or 15 students competing this year. Geda, who also was Dolan’s fifth-grade teacher at Sunnyside Intermediate School before she started teaching at HMS, said she has enjoyed working with him. “It was wonderful, he is a very, very intelligent young man, and has an uncanny sense of geography.” Sunnyside and St. Jude Thaddeus School sponsor competitions in Havre, and homeschooled students also may take the qualifying test. Talon Jones was the winner at Sunnyside this year, but did not qualify for the state bee. Jace Kato was the winner at St. Jude’s, but also did not make the top 100 in the state for the competition in Billings. The students who qualify for the state bee compete at Montana State University-Billings each spring, starting with an elimination round, where groups of about 20 students are quizzed. Each student is asked about eight to 10 questions, Dolan said. The top 10 finishers from that round then compete in finals. The winner receives $100 and qualifies for the national bee, the second-place finisher wins $50 and the student who ends up third wins $25. All of the state qualifiers also receive a certificate and a T-shirt. The competition is open for students from the fourth- through the eighth-grade, and the student must be no older than 15. Tuss said he barely made it into the state bee this year because of his age, and hopes to finish in the top 10 if not as the winner it would be a nice birthday present. “The bee is on Friday and on Saturday I turn 15,” he said.