STMA’s two middle schools participated in a National Geographic school-wide geography bee on Jan. 10, with 8th grader Jake Green taking the school championship at Middle School East, and fifth-grader Jacob Lappin winning for Middle School West. This marks the first time in school history that a fifth grader won the GeoBee championship.
Middle School West teacher and GeoBee organizer, Ryan Canton, said their GeoBee was the most exciting in memory. The semifinal competition was down to Lappin and last year’s winner, Henryk Zielinski, a 7th grader who Canton said is known around the school as “Mr. Geo Fact of the Week” due to his recurring segment on the school’s Knightly News Broadcast. Lappin and Zielinski had to go into five rounds of tie-breakers to finally crown Lappin the winner.
“The crowd was super into it,” Canton said. “Both kids were super sharp and on their game, and it wasn’t until the 5th tie-breaking question that Jacob emerged the winner to huge cheers from the crowd…and one heck of a ‘dab’ and massive smile from Jacob. Pure joy.”
Canton added that Zielinski reacted to his loss with “pure class,” immediately patting Lappin on the back and shaking his hand.
“Such an awesome gesture – and one that numerous students commented on to me, definitely didn’t go unnoticed,” he said.
About the GeoBee
National Geographic’s GeoBee aims to inspire and reward students’ curiosity about the world. Every student from participating schools take an initial paper quiz, then top scorers from each class compete in a second round to determine a school champion. Runners-up included Jaxen Saville and Samantha Kieley at East, and Zielinski, Caleb Matheson and Trystyn Knapp at West. The questions range from geography-related topics to ancient and world civilizations, cultures, and physical features.
School champions will take an online qualifying test as their next step, and the top 100 scorers will qualify for the Minnesota GeoBee in March. Winners of the state GeoBees receive an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the National GeoBee this spring, where they compete for cash prizes, scholarships, and an expedition to the Galapagos Islands aboard the National Geographic Endeavor II.