- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2003

James Williams, a home-schooled 14-year-old from Vancouver, Wash., won the 15th annual National Geographic Bee yesterday.

James captured the title by knowing that Goa, in India, was formerly a colony of Portugal.

That answer gave him a tiebreaker victory over Dallas Simons, a 13-year-old from Nashville, Tenn.

Sean Rao, 14, from Hubertus, Wis., placed third in the competition.

James said being home-schooled was a big help in the competition because it gave him extra time to concentrate on things he enjoys, like studying geography.

James made the trip to the competition here after participating in a science bowl competition in Ohio; later in the year, he will go to another competition as a member of the Washington-Oregon science bowl team.

The top three were among 5 million students from across the country who took part in local contests that narrowed the field down to 55 local champions for the finals in the District.

First prize is a $25,000 college scholarship, a lifetime subscription to National Geographic magazine and a week at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Adventure Camps. Second and third prizes are scholarships of $15,000 and $10,000.

Joining the three winners in the contest’s 10 finalists were:

• Jacob Felts, 14, of Highland High School in Jonesboro, Ark., who also represented his state last year. Jacob enjoys country music and would like to be a political scientist or ambassador.

• Kathryn Prose, 13, of D’Evelyn Junior High in Denver, who enjoys opera, and studies Mandarin and Latin.

• Thomas Meyerson, 13, of Blessed Sacrament School in the District, who also represented the capital city in the contest last year. He’s a Boy Scout, plays saxophone and basketball and would like to be a stand-up comedian.

• David Goldman, 14, of Nova Southeastern University School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who tutors in Hebrew school and would like a career in politics.

• Christopher Butler, 13, of Shaker Heights Middle School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, who collects license plates and composes music.

• Samuel Brandt, 11, of Roosevelt Middle School in Eugene, Ore. Samuel plays trombone, sings in the choir and would like to be a broadcaster one day.

• Karan Takhar, 12, of the Gordon School in East Providence, R.I. Karan plays piano, enjoys reading and would like to be an entrepreneur and introduce new products and ideas.

Nearly half this year’s contestants — 25 — are 14 years old and some are as young as 11. They came to the District from every state as well as the District, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Pacific territories and military schools overseas.

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