One student each from Athey Creek and Wood middle schools advance to state round

Two young geography whizzes from West Linn and Wilsonville competed in the Oregon state geographic bee for a chance to attend the 26th annual National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C.

Justin Carpenter, a seventh-grader at Inza R. Wood Middle School, and Kendall Gordon, an eighth-grader at Athey Creek Middle School, were among approximately 100 students attending the April 4 event. Both of them earned the right to compete at the state level by winning their school’s geography bee.

“There was the classroom tournament, and I won that,” Kendall said. “And there was a grade tournament, where you had to beat other people in the grade, and then the school competition round. I won that, and so I took a regional test.”

After that test, she said, “I pretty much stopped thinking about it, until I got the letter.” From that point on, she spent time studying — “a lot,” she said — mostly by using geography quiz games on her smartphone.

Justin also studied, although he used a different strategy. He looked through his family’s collection of atlases, and he went to the National Geographic Bee website, where 10-question quizzes were posted each day.

“We went to the library and checked out the official study guide,” he said. “We looked at the study guide, and they have a lot of good points in there on how to ace the national geography bee.”

“It’s been fun,” Kendall said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for me, and I enjoy learning. I’ve read all my life, and I’ve always been interested in learning. Most of the knowledge I have on geography comes from that.”

“I just kept going,” Justin said. “It’s always better to know more than you need.”

Although neither student advanced past the state competition, attending it was a victory in itself.

“I feel like there’s all good that comes out of it,” Justin said. “Even getting into the school (bee) is not a failure.”

By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
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