Kanawha Co. Student Wins State Geography Championship

April 07, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ A sixth grader at John Adams Middle School in Kanawha County is West Virginia's 2008 Geography Bee state champion.


Sam McClung claimed his title on Friday in Charleston. For his efforts, he received a globe, $100 from National Geographic, a binocular package and a certificate from Plum Creek for an all expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national competition.  Collin M. Gaus, an eighth grader at St. Vincent de Paul School in Ohio County, finished second and received $75, a globe and the binocular package. Jacob Ramthun, a seventh grader at Athens School in Mercer County, finished third and received $50, a globe and binoculars.


Nearly 100 fourth through eighth grade students earned their chance to compete on the state level by winning local geography bees and getting a top score on a written exam prepared by the National Geographic Society. All competitors received a National Geography Bee T-shirt, a West Virginia State Geography Bee 2008 backpack and a participant certificate.

State geography bees also were held in the other 49 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The National Geography Bee is May 20-21 in Washington, D.C. First place in the national competition is a $25,000 scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. Second and third place finalists will receive $15,000 and $10,000 scholarships, respectively.  

“Geography knowledge plays an increasingly important role in today’s global economy where students are not only competing with students in other states but those in other countries,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “It is imperative that students are prepared to live in a diverse and tolerant society if they are to succeed. These students have grasped that knowledge and will benefit from it.”

The state level events in West Virginia and six other states were sponsored by the National Geographic Society in partnership with Plum Creek, the most geographically diverse private landowner in the nation with more than 8 million acres of timberland. The West Virginia Department of Education also co-sponsored the West Virginia event.

“The Geographic Bee is truly an outstanding program that provides students a unique opportunity to better understand our world and the events happening around them,” said Bob Jirsa, president of the Plum Creek Foundation.

The National Geographic Society developed the National Geographic Bee in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. In a 10-country Gallup survey conducted for the Society in 1988 and 1989, Americans 18 to 24 years old, the youngest group surveyed, scored lower than their counterparts in the other countries tested.

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