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Students Vie for Geographic Bee Glory

May 22, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Youngsters from across America and beyond are bringing their worldly knowledge to bear in pursuit of geographic glory _ and a hefty college scholarship.

From Colorado to Connecticut, from North Dakota to Naples, Italy, students in grades four through eight began their battles of wits on Oct. 15, narrowing the field from 5 million participants down to the 55 competitors in the National Geographic Bee.

The final 10 in the competition sponsored by the National Geographic Society gathered Wednesday morning for a faceoff emceed by Alex Trebek, host of the TV quiz show ``Jeopardy.″

The top 10 this year are:

_Isaiah Hess, a 14-year-old homeschooler from Colorado Springs, Colo.

_Aaron Kiersh, 12, a sixth-grader at Bedford Middle School, Westport, Conn.

_Ryan Felix, 14, who attends eighth grade at the American High School in Naples, Italy. He represents Defense Department schools.

_Benjamin Detrixhe, 11, a fifth-grader at Clyde Elementary School, Clyde, Kan.

_Calvin McCarter, a 10-year-old homeschooler from Jenison, Mich.

_Nathaniel Mattison, 13, an eighth-grader at H.C. Crittenden Middle School in Armonk, N.Y.

_Alex Smith, 13, who attends eighth grade at Turrentine Middle School in Burlington, N.C.

_John Rice, a 14-year-old homeschooler from Maddock, N.D.

_Matthew Russell, 14, an eighth-grader at Fretz Middle School in Bradford, Pa.

_Erik Miller, a 14-year-old homeschooler from Kent, Wash.

Last year Kyle Haddad-Fonda, 14, of Shoreline, Wash., triumphed by knowing that a region of melting and evaporation in the lower portion of a glacier is called the zone of ablation.

Haddad-Fonda, a student at The Evergreen School, a private school, won a $25,000 college scholarship. It was his third try; he also represented Washington in 1999 and 2000.

The top prize this year is again $25,000. Second and third place collect scholarships of $15,000 and $10,000.

It’s not unusual for state winners to repeat; indeed, 11 of the 55 competitors this year have made the trip before. North Dakota’s Rice was his state’s representative each of the last two years.

Though she didn’t make the final 10 this year, the national competition is a family tradition for Mallika Thampy of St. Louis. She also represented Missouri in 1999. Her brother Eapen represented Missouri in the finals in 1997 and 1998. Another brother, George, was second in the National Geographic Bee in 2000 and won the National Spelling Bee a week later.

Debbie Biehl of Saluda, S.C., also followed two brothers to the national finals. David represented South Carolina in 1998 and 1999, winning on his second try. His brother Thomas was the state representative in 2001.


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National Geographic Society: http://www.nationalgeographic.com

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