On January 27, Salem Jr High held its second annual Geography Bee. The Geography Bee is a contest, resembling a spelling bee, but, instead of asking the spelling of words, the Geography Bee asks the names of countries. The purpose of the Geography Bee is to encourage eighth-grade students to learn geography. According to Mrs. Van De Graaff, a teacher at Salem Jr, who both ran and acted as a judge at the Bee, it was very successful at fulfilling this purpose. She says, “I had twenty kids in [my room] for the last month… learning country locations.” This year, Silas Wallentine, Bryn Riley and Josh Abbott took first, second and third places, respectively.
To determine who will participate in the Geography Bee, 8th graders take a test. The top 35 scorers are invited to participate. Participation, however, is optional. Only 29 of the invited 35 actually chose to participate this year.
The Bee itself is split into three rounds. In the first of these, the preliminary round, acts as an elimination round. The top 10 contestants in this round move on to the finals. In the finals, participants are asked questions, and, once they miss two of them, they are eliminated. The final two in this round go on to the championships. Answers in the championships, unlike previous rounds, are written, not spoken. Three questions are asked, and the person who gets the most right wins. If necessary, there can be further tiebreaker rounds.
The winner of the school-level Geography Bee can continue on to compete at state and, if they win there, national-ranking contests. While the prizes at smaller school Bees, atlases and board games, may seem trivial, the winnings at these more prestigious competitions are, as would be expected, much more illustrious. The grand prize of the national tournament is a Galapagos vacation and a staggering $50,000 scholarship.
Considering the success and reception of the Geography Bee, it is planned that it will continue to be a yearly event at Salem Jr High, much to the delight of teachers and parents. Hopefully, it will continue to inspire learning and knowledge in our students.