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Geography Bee Kicks Off at St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West, Finalist Advances to State Competition

Brenden Devine, an eighth-grader, won the school-wide bee.


Geography questions unfolded Friday morning at St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West at the school-wide geography bee.

The annual tradition took place amongst finalists from each social studies classroom. More than 800 students, staff, parents and community members attended the event.

The winner, eighth-grader Brenden Devine, advances to the state-level competition. From there, he has a chance to move on to the national competition for a $25,000 scholarship.

Social studies teacher Ryan Canton wrote a description and summary of the geography bee, and detailed what took place throughout the competition:

An early January tradition continued Friday morning at Middle School West as students participated in the 4th annual school-wide Geography Bee. A capacity crowd of well over 800 students, staff, family, and community members filled the gym at West to take in the competition to crown this year’s champion.

All students at Middle School West participate in preliminary rounds in their social studies classrooms. From there, a pool of 32 contestants, 8 from each grade, is determined. The 32 semi-finalists are then narrowed down to a final pool of 10 finalists.

This year’s finalists were Heather Christman (Grade 8), Natalie Cierzan (8), Ryan Copeland (8), Brendan Devine (8), Chase Liefert (6), Joey Och (7), Allie Pegg (8), Lilly Roberts (7), Josh Tutland (8), and Lucas Willis (6). Joey Lombardi (5), was the first alternate and took the place of 7th grader Lilly Roberts who was unable to attend. The second alternate was another fifth grader, Colton Schmoyer. Both Devine and Liefert were among the finalists last year as well.

The format was simple. These 10 would be narrowed down to two for the Bee's Championship Round. They would be asked a series of questions, increasing in difficulty, about national and world geography. Some questions would require an oral response, others written. All answers had to be given in 15 seconds or less. Two incorrect answers would mean elimination.

The questions were far from easy, and after seven rounds the two finalists were determined. Eighth grader Josh Tutland rebounded from an opening round miss to earn a spot in the finals alongside fellow eighth grader Brendan Devine who sailed through the opening rounds without missing a single question.

The Championship Round was a slightly different format. Each contestant would be asked to write their answer for the same three questions, and the contestant with the best score from those three would be crowned this year’s champion. The tension mounted in the gym as the contestants mentally prepared themselves for the next questions.

Continuing his flawless performance Brendan successfully answered the first two questions with Josh missing both, thus earning Josh second place honors and crowing Brendan as this year’s champion.

Brendan advances to the next level of competition, a written examination in an attempt to qualify for the State level bee. From there he has the potential to advance to the national competition in Washington D.C., where first price is a $25,000 college scholarship.

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