Ten Students Advance to Geographic Bee Finals

Jennifer Vernon
for National Geographic News
May 20, 2003

Test Yourself. Try answering some of the questions asked today at the national-level preliminary competition of the Geographic Bee: Go>>

After an impressive demonstration of knowledge and poise, the top ten finalists emerged from the preliminary rounds of the 2003 National Geographic Bee, held earlier today at the Wyndham City Center hotel in Washington, D.C.

Today's finalists (see the full list below) will compete tomorrow at National Geographic headquarters in Washington to determine this year's National Geographic Bee champion. The event will be moderated by Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, webcast live at 10 a.m. eastern time on nationalgeographic.com, and televised on the National Geographic Channel and on public television stations around the country (see local listings for details).

With a 15-second time limit to respond, the 55 state and territory Bee winners in today's preliminary round rallied to answer questions on physical geography, world cultures, economics, history, and current events given in a range of formats from verbal to visual.

After results from the five preliminary rounds were compiled and seven clear winners were named, a tie-breaker round was held to determine who out of the remaining 13 highest scorers would fill the last three slots.

"I'm really excited," said Dallas Simons, Tennessee, a newly deemed finalist. "But a little nervous, too."

Here for his second Bee, Jacob Felts, Arkansas, was the only finalist to get a perfect score in the preliminary round. "Ever since the third grade, people said, 'Wow, he's really got a knack for this—he could really go far.' So I had a lot of encouragement from my teachers and parents."

This year's bee had the highest number of girls competing—7 out of 55—since 1990, when a girl last won the championship. Kathryn Prose, Colorado, the lone girl to make the finals, was unfazed by her unique status. "I'm the only girl in most of the clubs I'm in at school. So I guess I'm used to it!"

Despite the competitive spirit permeating the Bee, staff, teachers, and parents worked hand-in-hand to promote a relaxed atmosphere.

"This really is a great amount of fun," said Laura Pizzuto, mother of contestant David Pizzuto, Delaware. "The object, I think, is to meet other kids and to enjoy—that's really the whole point." David's teacher, Todd Helmecki, agreed. "You can't skip out on the important things in life."

Although David did not make the finals, the Pizzutos were undeterred. "We had nothing to lose, and everything to gain, from being here," Mrs. Pizzuto said. "After all, they're all winners."

Check Nationalgeographic.com tomorrow for more news about the champion and runners-up.

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