Alexander Sessock, an eighth-grade student at MMI Preparatory School, won the school-level competition of the National Geographic Bee and a chance at a $50,000 college scholarship.
The school-level bee was the first round in the 27th annual National Geographic Bee, during which students answered oral and written questions on geography.
The competition involved 10 mid-school students who answered the most questions correctly in their social studies classes in the preliminary rounds. The runner up in the competition was sixth-grader Charles Dick, son of Norman and Tara Dick, Sugarloaf. The other school finalists included sixth graders Hannah Falatko, daughter of Robert and Christine Falatko, Freeland; Emily Ryan, daughter of Sam and Susan Ryan, White Haven; and Ethan Stine, son of Jeffrey and Tracy Stine, Mountaintop. Seventh graders are Ayla Cooper, daughter of Lea Cooper, White Haven, and Jason Cooper, Mountaintop; and Ben Putnam, son of Benjamin and Andrea Putnam, Sugarloaf. Eighth graders include Nicholas Carrato, son of Anthony and Carmine Carrato, Hazleton; Elise Hreha, daughter of Eric and Elizabeth Hreha, White Haven; and Coleman Smith, son of Keith and Laura Smith, White Haven.
Across the country, school winners, including Sessock, will take a written test. Up to 100 of the top scorers in each state will be eligible to compete in their state bee on March 27. The National Geographic Society will then provide an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for state winners to participate in the national championship on May 11-13.
The first-place national winner will receive a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien will moderate the national finals, which will air on television.
Faculty member Grete DeAngelo ’92 oversees the National Geographic Bee at MMI. "We look forward to the geography bee every year by having practice competitions in class," said DeAngelo, who teaches sixth grade geography at MMI. "The kids enjoy cheering for their friends. This year it took several rounds to narrow down the finalists to Charles and Alex, but we didn't need a tiebreaker round in the championship because Alex answered two out of the three questions correctly."
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations and was founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge.” The society’s mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. National Geographic has funded more than 10,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy.