David Patnaude wins WJHS Geography Bee

Post date: Jan 25, 2019 11:47:31 AM

Before a large audience of excited students and staff assembled in the Ward Gymnasium at Wells Junior High School on January 23rd, seventh-grade student David Patnaude became the school’s champion in the local portion of the National Geographic Bee. Jackson Koh, another 7th-grade student and a good friend of David’s, became runner-up.

For a little over an hour, the ten contestants responded to challenging geography questions in the school-level of competition for thousands of the nation’s 4th through 8th-grade students in the 31st National Geographic Bee sponsored by the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C. According to this organization, the contest is “an annual competition designed to inspire and reward students' curiosity about the world.”

The other eight competing were Tad Allaire (grade 6), Owen Clarke (grade 8), Matt Gahagan (grade 7), Spencer Carpenter (grade 7), Nick Olsen (grade 8), Eli Potter (grade 6), PJ Fortin (grade 6), and Ryan Chase (grade 8). All of these students were the highest scorers from the classroom-bees held earlier in January. This process allows for every student, grades 5-8, to have a chance to compete.

“This year's competition was really fun to organize,” said social studies teacher and contest moderator Bonnie Dill. “The contestants were all very motivated to compete and have always been highly interested in geography as students in class over their years at WJHS.”

“This (event) engages the student body audience because they all know what it is like to be answering questions,” said Bonnie Dill. “Kids can relate to the notion that you have to know your stuff but there is still an element of luck-of-the-draw with a bee format."

In the final championship round, with just Patnaude and Koh remaining, the two continued on with nine tie-breaking questions until Patnaude broke the stalemate successfully by answering a question that Koh missed. "Making it to the championship round was well-deserved for both of these boys; they have great work ethics," commented Dill. Patnaude, who is in line to represent WJHS at the state bee on March 29th at the University of Maine at Farmington, must now pass a brief written test.

Judges for the bee included teachers Susie Dugovic and John Covino. The timekeeper was Dan MacLeod. Prizes for the 10 finalists included a Toblerone chocolate bar, a puzzle ball keychain and a certificate. Patnaude and runner-up Koh each received a state quarters’ collector map. In addition, the champion received a quality atlas provided by the Wells-Ogunquit CSD and a medal provided by the National Geographic Bee.

Winners at the state level will be invited to the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington to compete in the National Geographic Bee Championship May 19th through May 22nd. The top prize is a $25,000 scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

(left to right) Tad Allaire, Owen Clarke, Matt Gahagan, Spencer Carpenter, David Patnaude, Jackson Koh, Nick Olsen, Eli Potter, PJ Fortin, and Ryan Chase.

(l to r) Bonnie Dill, David Patnaude and Jackson Koh