Almost completely destroyed during World War II, Minsk was rebuilt and is the most populous city in which landlocked European country?
A port city along the Indian Ocean on the Horn of Africa, Mogadishu is the most populous city in what country?
Located near extinct volcanic cones and home to Waitemata Harbour, Auckland is the most populous city of what island country?
If you knew that Belarus, Somalia and New Zealand were the correct answers to the questions above, you might just be Middle School Geography Bee material. This week, eighth graders Ahebwa Muhumuza, Nick Musso, Ryan Richard, Baylen Sim and Hayden Singh competed in Episcopal’s 2020 National Geographic Geography Bee on the VPAC stage in front of the entire Middle School. After five rounds of competition and a tiebreaker, Ahebwa Muhumuza was declared the Episcopal Geography Bee Champion.
The geography knowledge exhibited by this group of Middle School students was remarkable. “Perhaps the best aspect of the Geography Bee was that all contestants went through the first three rounds without missing a question,” says Division Head Mark Engstrom. “We also had a tie after five rounds that led to a tiebreaker.” Despite the difficulty of the questions, the answers seemed to come easy for the students. “The speed with which they could rattle off answers like Myanmar and Yemen was extremely impressive,” says geography teacher Kristina St. George. “While we study these areas in class, the students' intrinsic motivation to learn about our world goes well beyond what we do in a classroom setting.”
The competitors’ teachers weren’t the only ones impressed by the performance. As the bee progressed, the tension in the VPAC among the student spectators was palpable. Murmurs could be heard among the crowd as each student somehow correctly answered questions about remote islands or ancient civilizations. There was a sense that the students truly appreciated the knowledge on display. Once Muhumuza was crowned the winner, the tension broke and everyone enthusiastically congratulated him and the others. In speaking with the competitors, they seem humble and unphased by their geography recall. They say their knowledge is simply a compilation of information they’ve picked up throughout their studies.
Now that the school geography bee is complete, Muhumuza will take an online exam in an attempt to qualify for the state geography bee in March. The winner of the state geography bee then moves on to the nationals in Washington, D.C. this spring for an opportunity to win cash prizes and college scholarships. Good luck, Ahebwa. We’ll be cheering you on!