- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 7, 2017

FREEPORT, Ill. (AP) - Do you know what present-day country you’d have to be in to visit the ruins of Persepolis, an ancient ceremonial capital of Persia?

There’s a good chance that students in the Freeport School District geography bees know the answer is Iran.

In mid-January, both Carl Sandburg and Freeport Middle School participated in the National Geographic Bee. Each classroom has its own bee, and roughly 15 to 20 students were given the opportunity to participate in the schoolwide competition. Participation is voluntary, and about 35 students showed up for the Carl Sandburg competition.

The final round at Carl Sandburg was a showdown between eighth-grade AVID student Elijah Cooper and fifth-grader Camden Maves. Cooper prevailed after correctly answering a tough question about the Hawaiian Islands.

“Frankly, I just felt so excited,” Cooper said. “My blood started rushing and my heart started pumping so fast. I just didn’t expect myself to actually win.”

Maves said he also felt good about his performance.

“I’ve never been that good with geography, but I studied hard,” he said. “I thought I was going to be dead in the first round, but I guess both experience and luck was holding me up.”

At Freeport Middle School, the final round included three students. Eighth-grader Kiera Watson finished in third place, sixth-grader John Helms was the runner-up and eighth-grader Sydnee Forrester was the victor.

Cooper and Forrester were to have to wait until Feb. 6 to take an online test that will determine if they can compete in the state bee on March 31. If they move on, they’ll have an assortment of old questions to study, as well as websites and apps. Cooper said he already has a solid foundation.

“I like history a lot so I look at a lot of maps, historical texts and I’ve even started paying attention to cities, too,” Cooper said. “I just have that background experience.”

The school district has competed since the bee was created 29 years ago. Cheri Crawford, a middle school teacher who runs the bees, said the subject is important because kids need to be aware of their surroundings.

“They need that awareness of where everything is,” she said. “You don’t want them to think China is right next to us or that England is just right across the Mississippi River instead of the Atlantic Ocean.”


Source: The (Freeport) Journal Standard, https://bit.ly/2k9hjB0


Information from: The Journal-Standard, https://www.journalstandard.com/jshome.taf

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