The stage was set, and fifth-graders, along with one fourth-grader, were asked questions about geography. Those questions, developed by the National Geographic Society, were not easy questions and had members of the audience twittering with appreciation and awe at correct answers. Some answers were given orally, others written and some required interpretation of maps before an answer was given. Much of the information in the bee was not covered in regular curriculum, Marge Suek, who headed up the bee, said, although classes do keep up with current events and study some U.S. geography. As students who competed at a classroom level for a chance to compete at the school bee were gradually eliminated, it came down to Tawnya Brown, a fifth-grader in Suek's class, taking third. Shandon Oberquell, a fifth-grader in C. David Ross' class, and Mannie Sanchez, a fifth-grader in Suek's class, advanced to the championship round. Both were asked the same three quesTions and silently wrote answers on a dry erase board. With one correct answer out of three questions centered on world geography, Oberquell came away with the win. While he said he was nervous on the stage, he was all smiles after the competition. "I feel great," he said after having a winner's medal hung around his neck. He attributed his success to his reading of atlases and his work on Web sites keeping up with current events and geographical facts like state capitals. On one Web site, he can complete an exercise that requires the naming of state capitals in 1:05, he said excitedly. Of the continents, Europe is his favorite, he said, adding that his great-grandfather is originally from Germany and taught him how to speak the language. He likes the myths, architecture and other languages spoken in Europe, too, he said. Next, he will complete a standardized written test. If he scores high enough, he will advance to the state-level competition to be held in Billings. The winner of the state bee earns a slot at the national competition, and the winner of that bee wins a $25,000 scholarship, along with other prizes. That money would come in handy when Oberquell pursues one of the careers he is interested in — either as an archaeologist, artist or eye doctor.
Sunnyside geography bee
Published: Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
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