By Shirley Shuman
Fifty-five Braxton County Middle School students from all three grades competed in the school’s recent revival of the Geography Bee. Director Alicia McPherson explained that the Geography Bee had been held for six years before the pandemic, and she thought it was time to bring it back. “Formerly, we registered with the National Geography Bee on their website, and they sent us a list of questions,” she said. “Our school winner took a test, and if he or she qualified, then that person went to the West Virginia Bee. The winner at state level competed in the national event.”
That procedure was not possible this year, however, because when McPherson went online to register BCMS, she discovered there is no longer a National Geography Bee. Therefore, she faced the problem of producing enough questions for the initial elimination rounds, the competition among the 10 finalists, and the final competition between the top two finalists. The director explained that they used questions used from past Geography Bees and added questions of their own.
Eighth-grader Alexis Herndon won this year’s Geography Bee. Runner up was Brynnley Lusby. Herndon entered the bee, she said, because she “thought it would be fun,” and she found it to be just that. Asked how many rounds she competed in, she said, “seven and the final 12 including finals.” Questioned about the most difficult round, she responded, “I’d say the round where we just named the country.” In that round, she explained, students were given geographical information about a country and asked to name the country. Herndon enjoyed competing in the bee, she said, “because I thought it was a nice experience to do something like that involving all grade levels.” As the winner, she received a wooden trophy in the shape of a world globe made by the middle school’s CTE class.
Director McPherson explained some of the procedures Herndon mentioned. She said that competing students were divided into two groups, and each group had the same questions. Everything was done orally, she noted. It took seven rounds of questioning to narrow the 55 participants down to 10 finalists. For the 10 finalists, those running the bee used a different set of questions. Each finalist received the same question and had to write the answer on a whiteboard. Those who answered correctly remained in competition which continued until only two remained. Those two, Herndon and Lusby, received three questions, and the winner was whoever answered two correctly.
The BCMS Geography Bee was obviously a success, and McPherson hopes to see it continued next year.