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'G' is for geography bee

CCMS students participate in competition

by: MICHELLE BERTALOT/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Eighth-grade Kayla Miller and fellow student Oliver Ellsworth concentrate during the Crook County Middle School geography bee. She later went on to win the competition while Ellsworth came in second.

Last night, 10 Crook County Middle School students faced off in the National Geographic Bee.
   Eighth grade student Kayla Miller isn't new to the geography bee.
   "I was in it last year and I was the first one out," Miller said.
   Before the competition Miller admitted she was nervous. "It's pretty scary up there," she said.
   The eighth-grader hoped to stay in the competition longer this year and she did.
   Miller placed first in the geography bee, winning a sack full of $50 in silver dollars, free pizza for her family from Papa Murphy's, a T-shirt, and a medal.
   "Besides always being a good student, I think she studied extra hard and is very deserving of this," said Lara Polen, Miller's social studies teacher.
   The eighth-grader said studying the encyclopedia and maps were helpful preparation tools.
   Oliver Ellsworth, also an eighth grader, placed second in the geography bee. He won $25 in silver dollars, free pizza at Papa Murphy's, and a T-shirt.
   There were six eighth grade competitors, three in seventh, and one six grade student.
   The geography bee is sponsored by National Geographic magazine and is open to students in fourth to eighth grade.
   The school holds class competitions in every social studies class and 10 students are chosen to face off in the school geography bee.
   "It's not something that we study specifically for, but by being in social studies from fourth on up, it's an accumulation of knowledge," explained Polen.
   She has been teaching for about 12 years, and last night was the first time she has seen a girl win. Out of the five years she has been at CCMS, three students have gone on to the state competition.
   On Monday, Miller will take a written test for the geography bee and the top 100 Oregon students with the highest scores from their written tests will meet for another geography bee.
   "She's got a few more days to practice," Polen said.
   The student who places first at the state level will go on to Nationals, which are held in Washington D.C.
   The winner of the entire National Geographic Bee wins a $25,000 scholarship.