By Dan Cosgrove
Calhoun Geography Bee Coordinator

Mt. Zion, WV - Alec Richards (above) a 7th grade student at Calhoun Middle-High School, won the county-level competition of the National Geographic Bee on January 19, 2012 and a chance at a $25,000 college scholarship. The school-level Bee, at which students answered oral questions on geography, was the first round in the 24th annual National Geographic Bee. This year's Bee is sponsored by Google.

Thousands of schools around the United States and in the five U.S. territories are participating. The school winners, including Alec, will now take a written test; up to 100 of the top scorers on that test in each state will then be eligible to compete in their state Bee March 30, 2012.

Students in 5th through 8th grades competed over a two week period at the school. The preliminary competition included seven rounds of questions to determine the first, second, and third place winner for each grade. The competition was so tough that many students were tied at the end of the Preliminary Competition and they continued deep into the tie-breaking questions provided by the National Geographic Society. Once identified, all the top three grade-level winners entered the final competition to determine which two would move to the championship round.

Once again the competition was tough with four students hanging in tight, again having to answer tie-breaking questions. Finally, the two finalists, Alec and Laura Webb (a previous county winner) were identified to go head-to-head in the Championship Round. Yet again, after the championship round, (Championship) Tiebreaker Questions were used. Alec won the bee with a question about the Rhineland. He knew the answer thanks to a trip to an amusement park and a ride on a Rhineland River Adventure. It doesn't matter how you learn, it just matters that you learn!

Congratulations to the winner Alec, 2nd place Laura, third place David Marks and fourth place winner Kaleb Nicholas. Grade level winners included:

5th grade: 1st Alicia Mills, 2nd Josh Schoolcraft, 3rd Shyanne Morgan

6th grade: 1st Sarah Bell and Kaleb Nicholas, David Marks, Natalie Allen

7th grade: 1st Laura Webb, 2nd Addie Shimer, 3rd Alec Richards

8th grade: 1st Mariah Jones, 2nd Haley Knotts, 3rd Brandi Whited

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