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Burrow wins Whitmore Charter Geography Bee
Geography bee finalists
Bronson Burrows, (right) an eighth-grader at Whitmore Charter School for the Arts & Technology, won the Geography Bee held Thursday afternoon. At left was runner-up Andrew Sanchez. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Eighth-grader Bronson Burrow outlasted nine other competitors to win the Whitmore Charter School of Art and Technology Geography Bee sponsored by the National Geography Society Thursday afternoon.

Burrow won the championship round against seventh-grader Andrew Sanchez.

Bronson will be given a qualifying quiz that will be forwarded to the National Geography to be considered for the State Geographic Bee and possibly the 28th annual National Geographic Bee where $50,000 in college scholarships will be doled out to the champion. Up to 100 of the top scorers on that test in each state will be eligible to compete in their State Bee scheduled.

The competition held at the school - which occupies the Berryhill Elementary School campus - started out with 10 competitors in fifth grader Hannah Methvin; seventh-grader Jason Keifer; sixth-graders Avery Bezanson and Sam Caulkins; and eighth-graders Ian Babb, Jacob Oller, Mallory Marker, Qalidra Sengsoury and Bronson. To reach the competition, the 10 competed in seven rounds and beat out 24 of their classmates.

In the first round of questions centering on U.S. geography, seven of the 10 students answered correctly. Methvin, Bezanson and Oller were dismissed in the first round of eliminations. In the first round, Methvin incorrectly identified Thomas Jefferson's Monticello as being in Montana when it is in Virginia. Avery Bezanson incorrectly identified New York as sharing the Delmarva Peninsula with Virginia (correct answer is Maryland). Oller incorrectly identified Oregon as the state where the Pamlico Sound borders with Cape Hatteras when the correct answer was North Carolina. On a white board students were asked to write the name of the state which borders Niagara Falls with Canada. Methvin's incorrect answer of Michigan, Bezanson's answer of Washington, Oller's answer of Michigan proved to be their second wrong answers and resulted in their elimination.
The questions grow increasing more difficult. In the second round of eliminations, Caulkins and Babb were gone, leaving just Sanchez, Keifer, Marker, Sengsoury and Burrow. Questions touched on a U.S. map with physical features but minus state names. The audience was allowed to see the same map on an overhead projection screen. Andrew Sanchez correctly identified the highest peak in Colorado as being Mount Elbert. Jason Keifer correctly identified Lake Champlain as being located on the border of New York and Vermont. Caulkins was right when he answered that Lake Superior is the most northern of the Great Lake. Ian Babb incorrectly answered that Lake of the Ozarks is in Utah rather than Missouri. Mallory Marker was right when she noted that the mountain range east of Seattle is the Cascades. Qalidra Sengsoury correctly identified the mountain range in northern Alaska as the Brooks Range. Bronson named correctly that Chicago is located on Lake Michigan. The group was collectively asked to write down the name of the ocean which Fremantle, the principal port in east Australia, is on. The correct answer was Indian Ocean, which Caulkins, Babb and Sengsoury answered wrong.

The final round of questions posed different questions of the remaining contestants. The tough questions then eliminated Keifer, Marker and Sengsoury. Jason Keifer was asked what country administers the Canary Islands and he incorrectly said Africa (it is Spain). Marker was asked what country Hammerfest - the northernmost town in Europe - is in; she incorrectly said Sweden when the answer was Norway. Sengsoury gave an incorrect answer to name the country which has the easternmost point on the Horn of Africa; she said Egypt when the answer was Somalia. Burrow was not eliminated but did incorrectly answered that the state of Tabasco was in Brazil when it's actually in Mexico.

The contest came down to Sanchez and Burrow who remained for the championship round. Only three questions were asked at the same time with answers going on individual white boards. The one who correctly answered the most questions became the champion. Teacher Matt Huttsel asked for the name of the state in which President Obama created the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Both correctly answered Hawaii. The second question centered on Vedas, the ancient text originally composed in Sanskrit, and to what religion it was sacred. Both failed to answer Hinduism incorrectly - both answered Buddhism.

The last question settled the contest. It asked the name of the smallest country in Southeast Asia with the largest port in the region. Sanchez failed to answer Singapore correctly and answered Bangladesh.

"It turned out to be interesting because Andrew Sanchez stepped in yesterday because another student was absent and he ended up getting second place," commented teacher Tara Younker.

Gift cards were given to the two finalists.