Monday, April 8, 2013

Anchorage 8th grader to represent Alaska in National Geographic Bee

Kenny Petrini is congratulated by Brian Ross, Bee moderator.
Kenny Petrini, eighth grader at Central Middle School in Anchorage, took top honors at the 2013 Alaska Geographic Bee held April 5 at the Egan Center. The state winner received $100 and the “Complete National Geographic on DVD” and will represent Alaska in the national finals at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., May 20-22.

Petrini topped 88 other students in Friday's event. "I was half nervous but the confidence I felt played a role," he said. Petrini had been studying for the Bee since October. This is his fourth and last year to compete, as the competition is for fourth through eighth graders.

The winning question was: "Which Russian city, home of the Heritage Museum, lies on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland?" The answer was St. Petersburg.

The other top 10 contenders were:

Brendan Gerdts, Rogers Park Elementary, Anchorage

Anthony Cole, Begich Middle School, Anchorage

Joseph Hogenson, Randy Smith Middle School, Fairbanks

Kallie Kenner, Soldotna Middle School, Soldotna

Marley Archer, Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, Juneau

Ben Ng, Auke Bay Elementary School, Juneau

Justin Smith, Montessori Borealis, Juneau

Andrew Hull, Goldenview Middle School, Anchorage

Alex Courtney, Midnight Sun Charter School, Wasilla

Bee Coordinator Kristin Shea told the students, "Your hard work and dedication to geography brought you here today. Geography touches nearly every aspect of our lives and a sound knowledge of geography is essential to understanding our world."

Calling the students "the brightest geographers in the state of Alaska," Shea said she hopes they all continue to learn about our planet.

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan greeted the contestants in the opening ceremony. "Our world is such a fascinating place. Over thousands of years we have learned so much but there is so much still to learn. You'll be the ones to discover things. You are all winners just to get here," he said. He gave a special thanks to the teachers who inspired the students and the parents for their support.

Ella Flood, a competitor from Anchorage, said, "I especially like the history you learn from geography. The world's pretty interesting."

Katherine Parnell, fifth grader from Kodiak, said she was excited to get to travel to Anchorage and stay in a hotel. She took second place at her school in fourth grade and when the winner moved on to middle school, she saw a chance to go for the prize. "Geography is fun," she said. "My brother won twice and I thought if he did it I could too."

The National Geographic Bee is organized by the National Geographic Society. This year’s state sponsors were Google and Plum Creek. The Geography Department, a program of the University of Alaska School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, helped with the event.

First prize in the national competition is a $25,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. Second- and third-place finishers receive $15,000 and $10,000 college scholarships. The national winner will also travel (along with one parent or guardian), all expenses paid, to the Galápagos Islands. The winner will experience geography firsthand through up-close encounters with the wildlife and landscape of Galápagos. Travel for the trip is provided by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.

National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD will air the final round of the 2013 National Geographic Bee, moderated by “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, on Thursday, May 23, at 7 p.m. ET/PT. It will be aired later on public television stations; check local television listings for date and time.

The officials were all smiles. From left are timekeeper Brian Brettschneider, senior scientist at SWCA Environmental Consultants; judge Katie Kennedy, UA Geography Program Education and Outreach Coordinator; judge Terri Morganson, account manager with ESRI.

Rachel Bylsma, special assistant to Gov. Sean Parnell, congratulated Kenny Petrini.

Prizes awaited the winners!

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