Last year Gilbert Intermediate participated for the first time in the National Geographic Society’s Geography Bee competition, and once again competed Wednesday naming sixth grader Andrew Kitchens the school’s winner.
“I’m excited, last year (Jack Barkley) won and this year all my teachers told me I had to win,” Kitchens said. “So now I’m going to tell them, ‘See? I listened to you.’”
Kitchens will take a state qualifying test online and advance depending on how well he does. If he wins state, he will advance to the national bee.
“All school champions are eligible to win the national championship and its first prize, a $50,000 college scholarship,” the Gilbert press release states.
The national championship takes place May 15-17 in Washington, D.C.
This year’s Gilbert competitors were fifth graders Mason Tulley, Jace Patton and Kooper Vanden Berge; and sixth graders Jack Barkley, Peyton Vanden Berge, Anna Newcomb, Nicole Islas, Andrew Kitchens and Timothy Pursell.
“They have dedicated themselves to this contest and have attended weekly practice. They have studied at home on their breaks and in their spare time,” Gilbert social studies teacher Amanda Stanfield wrote. “They have worked really hard and I’m so proud of them.”
After the fourth round, the competition came down to Jack Barkley — the defending champ — and Kitchens.
Kitchens said he’s going to study hard before the next test.
“It’s also a mental thing. I think I will make it to state,” he said.
Gilbert Principal Mary Laigle said the Geography Bee is a great learning experience for her students.
"They learn about important national and world landmarks; natural and man made," she said. "This brings about a curiosity in a young person's mind that enables them to think outside the box and discover new possibilities for solving bigger problems."