Geography mastery

February 6, 2015

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Apollo, Newcastle crown geography bee champs

GeoBee

Ever since he was little, which, admittedly, wasn’t too long ago, Apollo Elementary School fourth-grader Arthur Gwozdz often found himself staring at a globe.

“I don’t know why,” he said, fully aware that to some, it may sound a bit unorthodox. “I just like to do it.”

Idle time spent spinning and exploring the world from the comfort of his Newcastle home was certainly not a waste, though, as evidenced by the 10-year-old’s victory in Apollo’s 2015 geography bee Jan. 13.

Arthur was the last one standing, defeating fifth-grader Henry Nguyen in the competition’s final round.

It wasn’t easy, Arthur admitted, and he certainly looked nervous as he scribbled answers on a white board.

“I was thinking, ‘I’m going to lose at any moment.’ I mean, I’m going against fifth-graders,” he exclaimed.

The contest’s 10 finalists gathered in the school cafeteria in front of an audience of their classmates, parents and a distinguished guest, Issaquah City Councilwoman Mary Lou Pauly, who was a judge.

Apollo Principal Susan Mundell moderated the event, asking questions from the National Geographic Society. As students answered incorrectly, they were told one by one to leave the stage.

“I’m very proud of you for taking risks like that and challenging yourselves,” Mundell said as contestants exited the competition.

Arthur said he studied 20 minutes a day for two weeks. He will now have an opportunity to take a written test, with a chance to qualify for the state championship.

The other Apollo competitors were fifth-graders Sanjana Addanki, Joel Kinney, Henry Nguyen, Eyan Pell, Ryan Reamy, Serena Sherwood, and fourth-graders Garrison Hanses, Prachi Sangani and Zefanya Sihotang.

Two-time champ

By Christina Corrales-Toy Newcastle Elementary fifth-grader Pravir Chugh won his second straight geography bee Jan. 23.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Newcastle Elementary fifth-grader Pravir Chugh won his second straight geography bee Jan. 23.

Newcastle Elementary School fifth-grader Pravir Chugh felt the pressure.

He knew that coming into the school’s fourth annual geography bee Jan. 23, he was the favorite. After all, he took the top spot at last year’s competition.

“Oh, man, I felt all the pressure, especially during the championship round,” he said.

Pravir made it two wins in a row with his victory over classmate Leon Bahn in the final round.

The fifth-grader said he was nervous, even though he had last year’s experience to build upon. It helped that he already knew the competition and question formats, Pravir said.

“This year was definitely harder,” he said. “Leon was a great competitor.”

Pravir said he spent less time studying for this year’s competition. His parents asked him questions for about 15 minutes every day for two months.

Newcastle Elementary Principal Richard Mellish moderated the event, while Newcastle City Manager Rob Wyman and city community activities liaison Wendy Kirchner served as judges.

Pravir, like Arthur, will now have an opportunity to take a written test, with a chance to qualify for the state championship.

The winner of the state championship wins a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Geographic Bee. The national winner receives a $50,000 scholarship, a lifetime subscription to National Geographic magazine, a Galápagos trip and $500 cash.

The other Newcastle competitors were Daniel Flash, Rachel Hoki, Alex Lamtagne, Dhruv Naik, Morgan Ringwood, Jacob Rubenstein, Hunter Scheppat and Jensen Wolff.

 

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