PALMER — Numerous sixth, seventh and eighth graders participated at Palmer Junior Middle School’s annual Geography Bee contest Nov. 26.
Eighth grader Elijah Loudon won the school’s finals and he’s set to represent PJMS during the state finals.
“It was great. It was really fun, and boy was he excited. I like it when the person who wins, whether it be the Spelling Bee or The Geography Bee, and they’re excited to represent the school,” PJMS teacher Linda Jo Klapperich said. “And being an eighth grader, he knows it’s the last year he can go to state.”
The finalists were tested on their knowledge of geography, including locations of cultural features, landforms, climate, bodies of water, soils, and a various other geographical topics.
The National Geographic Society hosts this national contest each year. It’s open to fourth through eighth graders. Whoever wins the state finals goes onto the national level. The state finals is in Anchorage March 27.
“That’s what makes it kind of interesting… It’s going to be fourth graders competing against eight graders,” Klapperich said. “I always go on that day. I help at the state geography bee as a moderator.”
The National Geographic Society sponsors PJMS along with more than 10,000 schools across the country for the chance to compete on the national level.
PJMS has participated in the Geography Bee for 25 years, according to Klapperich. She said that she’s coordinated for the school for the last 15 years. She said the school finals are well attended by parents.
“Parents are very supportive and it’s wonderful,” Klapperich said.
A total of 37 students from sixth to eighth grade participated in the Geography Bee this year. Sixth grader Spencer Miller placed in second and L.J. Brown took third place. Each student received certificates and trophies for their achievement.
Leading up to the school finals, PJMS held preliminary rounds from classroom to classroom.
The top two students from each social studies class moved onto the school finals in the school cafeteria.
Students, staff and parents all gathered round to watch the finalist compete, cheering them on all the while.
“I just want to get kids involved in school activities because that’s what keeps them interested and coming to school. Participating, this is a big deal for some of these students,” Klapperich said.
The Geography Bee is of several programs featured at the school. Klapperich said that one of the main goals for each program is to encourage students to become involved with their school.
“I think it’s very important to have activities and wide variety of activities which we have to keep students interested in school. Not everyone’s going to be interested in the geography bee but we have the spelling bee, we’ve got the talent show, we’ve got chess club, we’ve got robotics… It helps them feel connected,” Klapperich said.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org