01/22/10 — St. Mary student takes top honors in geography bee

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St. Mary student takes top honors in geography bee

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 22, 2010 1:46 PM

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Andrew Boldt, left, sixth-grader and school winner of the recent St. Mary School National Geographic Bee, is seen with runner-up Lawrence Dugom, an eighth-grader. All fourth- through eighth-graders at the school participated in the qualifying test, with top two students from each grade advancing to the school-level bee. Andrew now advances to the next round of competition at the regional level.

Andrew Boldt, a sixth-grade student at St. Mary School, recently won the schoolwide competition of the National Geographic Bee and the chance to earn a $25,000 college scholarship.

The geography bee was held nationwide, with students answering questions on a variety of topics that included geography, math and the interpretation of maps.

Kristy Gross, a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at St. Mary and organizer of its event, said every student in grades 4-8 took the quailfying test before the holidays.

"From there, two from each grade -- 10 total -- went to the schoolwide bee," she said.

She recalls watching the students seated on stage, as the pool was gradually narrowed down to the final winner.

Andrew, she said, had "about 10 family members there supporting him."

"It was neat to watch," she said. "His confidence grew. Every round that he would advance, you could just see him sit a little straighter, his shoulders back."

Jamie Lamont, a fifth-grade finalist, admitted he had been a bit nervous.

"There were three judges and we were sitting in, like, 10 chairs in front of the stage," said Lawrence Dugom, one of the two eighth-grade finalists. "We were more relaxed in our class. We were all comfortable in front of each other."

Students took different approaches in preparing for the bee.

"I looked at an atlas," Jamie said.

"I didn't study, because you have no idea what you're going to be asked," said Lukas O'Daniel, the other eighth-grade finalist.

Some participated in geography bee club after school, while practice test questions were also available online, Mrs. Gross said.

Kelly Ann Kimble, a seventh-grade finalist, remembers when the school held a similar geography bee two years ago, when she was in fifth grade.

"It's kind of interesting seeing what other people know that you didn't," she said.

"It was fun," added Nicholas Beliveau, a fifth-grade finalist.

Unlike the typical spelling bee, though, Lukas quickly pointed out this competition was "not about spelling."

"They ask you questions (on) physical geography, cities, countries, states," he said.

"One of our school's improvement goals is to increase children's geography skills," Mrs. Gross explained.

Another interesting aspect of the bee is that all of the finalists, no matter the grade, are given the same questions.

Several shared their strategies once they made it to the stage for the schoolwide contest.

"Just guess" was Nicholas' suggestion.

Jamie's advice was to "go with the flow."

Lawrence outlasted many of his classmates, coming in second and being named runner-up to the champion.

The next step for Andrew, who received a medal and a certificate, is another written test. If he is chosen for the next round of competition, he will join up to 100 of the top scorers for the state at the state bee on April 9.

State champions and teacher-escorts will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., courtesy of the National Geographic Society for the national championship rounds in late May. First-place winner at that level will receive a $25,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the society and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Andrew admitted the whole process is pretty exciting, but he's just pacing himself as the process unfolds.

"I'm just studying online," he said of his preparation plan.