The following was provided by the Pleasantville Union Free School District:
Pleasantville Middle School hosted its first school-wide National Geographic Bee on January 28, at which eight finalists competed for the school championship in front of the entire student body.
Prior to this, a series of competitions winnowed the field to two grade-level winners each from grades 5-8. Faculty members Melissa Brown and Robert Slotoroff, who organized the event, explained the rules and read several rounds of questions (including: A large inland lake called the Salton Sea is located in the Imperial Valley in which state? Antietam National Battlefield, site of a major Civil War conflict, is located near the Potomac River in which mid-Atlantic state? Name the large chain of volcanic islands that stretch about 1200 miles westward from the Alaska Peninsula.), narrowing the field to two—Ben Richmond and Andrew Song—for the Championship Round.
Each answered one of two questions correctly, which brought up this tie-breaker question: Name the narrow body of water that is the western entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.
Ben answered correctly (the Strait of Gibraltar) and became the school’s first National Geographic Bee champion; Andrew is the runner-up.
The next day, Ben took a qualifying test to determine whether he will be one of the 100 students to participate in the statewide competition that will be held on April 4 in Albany. (State winners will advance to the national finals to be held May 20-22 in Washington, D.C.) The other finalists were Daniel Schuster (3rd place), Delaney Cotter, Mary Kate Crowe, Katie Dietz, Susannah Lahiri, and Jack Martin.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the National Geographic Bee, a contest sponsored by the National Geographic Society for schools with students in grades four through eight. It is designed “to encourage teachers to include geography in their classrooms, spark student interest in the subject, and increase public awareness about geography.”
The goal of Pleasantville Middle School’s participation is “to foster a culture within the middle school that embraces geographic awareness and challenges.”
Plans are already underway for next year’s competition.