Hughes, a seventh grader at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, won Verona’s Geographic Bee competition on January 7 after an intense tie-breaking session with the other semi-finalist, fifth grader Sam Pensiero. Carol Clifford, a fifth grade teacher, served as moderator and Lee Anne Fusaro, Carol Lynn Moy and Mark Rossi, sixth and fifth grade teachers, served as judges. The school-wide bee was organized by Barbara Kistner, who teaches HBW’s gifted and talented classes as well as grade seven social studies.
“The questions were hard so I was happy to finally break the tie,” Hughes said after the Whitehorne Bee. “The students in the audience grew more excited as the tie continued,” added Mrs. Kistner. “Billy and Sam were two great competitors.”
The competition began back on December 13, when students in grades five through eight participated in the classroom competitions. There were seven rounds of tough questions, and then the student with the most correct answers in each classroom took a written test. The finalists of the classroom competitions were fifth graders Sam Pensiero and Nicolas Slawski, sixth graders Connor Silvia and Katie Fernandez, seventh graders Nicole Maladorno, George Tamburino, Billy Hughes and Alex Hardenberg and eighth graders P.J. Walshe and Michaela Fogarty.
To advance to the state competitions, Hughes has had to take a written test that is being scored at the National Geographic Society. The top 100 scorers in New Jersey will be eligible to compete in the state bee, which takes place on April 1. (To get an idea of how hard this is, there were 400 school competitions in New Jersety.) The national championship will be held in Washington, D.C. on May 24 and 25, 2011. The first place winner will receive a $25,000 scholarship, lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
If you want to see if you are as smart as a seventh grader about geography, you can take a sample quiz on National Geographic’s Web site.