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Kennedy Junior High School — 2018 Geography Bee

Chungtai Tian, Feature Reporter

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Bolivia. Oman. Djibouti. These are just three of the countries that students at Kennedy Jr. High School, located in Lisle, IL, will need to familiarize themselves with to prepare for the annual Kennedy Geography Bee.

The Kennedy Geography bee is made up of five rounds, each eliminating more and more contestants, until a winner is decided. The first round, a test on students’ knowledge of US states, is the easiest, and a minimal amount of students will be eliminated. They simply need to match the names of states with pictures on a map.

The second round, which is in the same format as the first round, is on countries around the world, a much harder topic. As the tests increase in difficulty, less and less students will be able to advance to the up and coming rounds.

The third round is one of the most important, narrowing  down all of the remaining contestants down to the 30 top students.The questions, designed by Kennedy Junior High teachers, are made to be as hard as possible, with an average top 30 cutoff of 32 out of 50. “We design the third round of the Geo bee to be as hard as possible, so that it is much easier to distinguish the top geography students in the school”, said David Hollander, the head of the Kennedy Geography Bee.

While the first three “preliminary” rounds are taken in the classroom, the fourth round, comprised of the top 30 students in the school, takes place in the Learning Commons, and the contestants must answer questions orally, in front of a panel of judges.The questions gradually increase in difficulty, and eventually, the top 10 students are determined after enough contestants answer questions incorrectly. .

The fifth and final round is again held in the Learning Commons. However, friends and family are invited to watch the top 10 students answer  questions about a variety of different geographical topics. Round by round, the contestants are slowly eliminated until only two remain. They continually answer questions until one is wrong and one is right. The winner proceeds to participate in the state bee.

Though the school geography bee ends after five rounds, , it is not the end for the school champion. He or she will  proceed to take the preliminary round of the state bee, and if they qualify, they will compete to become the state champion.

It’s no wonder that the state competition is extremely challenging. The best a Kennedy Jr. High student, Jacob Myers, has ever done at a state bee is second place. “He only missed one question,” said Hollander, explaining how hard the state bee was. “The state bee can come down to a single question.”

And as this year’s geography bee approaches, students had better start studying soon.  

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Kennedy Junior High School — 2018 Geography Bee