PCMS navigates Geography Bee

PCMS navigates Geography Bee

PCMS navigates Geography Bee

With butterflies in their stomachs, 10 students filed into the PCMS library on Jan. 9. They competed in the first round of the 2018 National Geographic Geography Bee.

John Keitz moderated the annual contest. As a social studies teacher, Keitz stresses geographic skills.

“We deal with countries all over the planet as friends and enemies,” he said. “But many Americans have no idea where those countries are located and know little to nothing about who lives there.”

Whitney Phillips, the school librarian, judged.

“They are so nervous,” whispered Phillips, as the students took their seats.

Dozens of parents, grandparents and siblings came to watch.

Taylor Garland, Conner Fecht and Katie Moore represented the sixth-grade.

Seventh-grade contestants included Wyatt Diaz, Jack Knight and Darius Muse.

The eighth-grade geographers included Nick Flores, Dakota Herring, Kylee Fuller and Dmitrii Zveniatckovskii. For them, it was the last middle school geography bee. They’ll explore high school next fall.

Each student earned a seat at the table. They scored the highest for their grade levels on a school-wide test of geographic knowledge.

Keitz stood behind a podium flanked by shelves full of books and trophies. He asked the audience to refrain from recording or taking pictures during the Bee.

Schoolwide contests continue through February 2018, at 10,000 schools across the United States. Fourth- through eighth-graders may compete.

That’s a lot of butterflies.

The questions must remain closely-guarded secrets.

The PCMS students took turns rising to the challenge. Sometimes wild guesses turned out to be accurate. Other times, the kids seemed to have the answers at their fingertips.

One by one, several students found themselves eliminated. They watched the rest of the contest from the audience. The questions got tougher as the Bee progressed.

Finally, only three finalists remained: Wyatt Diaz, Conner Fecht and Dakota Herring. Ultimately, Diaz seized the win. Fecht made runner-up; Herring came in third.

Asked which geographic locale he’d most like to visit, Diaz didn’t hesitate.

“I’d choose Florida because of the water,” he said. “And I have a little brother and little sister who would like to see Disneyworld.”

Maybe one day he’ll get his wish.

But first, Diaz navigated his way to the computer. Each school-wide winner takes an online test. The top 100 qualify for the state competition in Las Vegas on Friday, April 6.

The champion from each state competes in the National Championship in Washington, D.C., May 20 — 23, 2018.

Keitz urges his students to learn about the different regions of the world.

“Without this understanding, we are unable to make informed decisions about the issues regarding those regions, the opportunities they present and the dangers we face,” he said.