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Global-wise students win geography bees

by Jo Rafferty

Area elementary and middle school students have shown an aptitude in world geography.

In the past two and a half months, students in fourth through eighth grade at six Carson Valley schools answered questions like: “Which state has a climate suitable for growing citrus fruits – California or Maine?” or “Which country has the world’s largest Muslim population – Indonesia or Mexico?”

The six first-place winners of the National Geographic Geography Bee will now be considered for state competition in Henderson on March 31, depending on how their scores compare to other winners in the state. There are 100 students chosen to compete at the state level, according to the Web site http://www.nationalgeographic.com/geographybee.

The winners at the six schools have been announced:

n Meneley Elementary School – first-place Stevie Kinzy, sixth grade; second-place Alex Torres, sixth grade;

n Jacks Valley Elementary School – first-place Jack Crawford, fifth grade; second-place Becky Grabow, sixth grade;

n Minden Elementary School – first-place Cameron Morefield, sixth grade; second-place Shaelin Morefield, fourth grade; third-place Nicholas Maestretti, sixth grade;

n Carson Valley Middle School – first-place Thomas Wicker, eighth grade; second-place Bart Niday, seventh grade; third-place Daniel Trent, eighth grade;

n Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School – first-place Ben Syang, eighth grade; second-place Nathaniel Ramirez, eight grade;

n Piñon Hills Elementary School – first-place Brittney Lathrop, sixth grade; second-place Ali Johnson, sixth grade; third-place Calum Richey, fourth grade.

If the six winners compete and win at the state level, they will be invited to National Geographic headquarters in Washington, DC, in late May to compete in the National Geographic Bee finals for scholarships in the amounts of $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000.

Bart Niday, Carson Valley Middle School’s second-place winner, came in second in state competition last year.

“The northern counties have been dominating the competition for several years now and Douglas has been right in there,” said Kathy Chipman Wicker of Minden, mother of Carson Valley Middle School’s first-place winner Thomas Wicker.

Thomas has placed in the top 10 in the state competition each year – ninth as a fourth grader, fifth as a fifth grader, second as a sixth grader and fourth as a seventh grader.

Kathy said she and her husband Bob Wicker lived in Germany for many years, where Thomas was born.

“By living in a foreign country you become more aware of the world around you.”

Their interest in the world may have rubbed off on Thomas.

“Thomas just kind of picked up on that,” said Kathy. “We’re proud of him, because he’s able to recall so much knowledge.”

n Jo Rafferty can be reached at jrafferty@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 210.