Matthew Gahagan wins top spot in geography bee

Post date: Feb 08, 2018 2:55:24 PM

`Before a large audience at Wells Junior High School on January 26th, sixth-grade student Matthew Gahagan won the school level of the National Geographic Bee. Brian Fetzner, another 6th grade student, became runner-up.

For about an hour, 10 students responded to challenging questions in what was the first level of competition for them and thousands of other 4th through 8th grade students around the nation in the 30th National Geographic Bee sponsored by the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.

"He will be very excited to win and he'll represent our school very well," said bee organizer and social studies teacher Bonnie Dill of Gahagan who still must pass a written test to represent WJHS at the State National Geographic Bee held the University of Maine at Farmington on April 6th.

The WJHS 10 were the highest scorers from earlier geography bees held in the school's various social studies classrooms. The other eight students competing on the 26th were Zack Carpenter, Ryan Chase, Jonah Curley, Nick Days, Olivia Noury, Nick Olsen, David Patnaude and Eli Potter.

This is the 29th year of WJHS's participation in this national contest and Bonnie Dill has been instrumental in it since the 1989-90 school year. Among her roles, she is the "questioner" for the bee. "It's great that we have been able to participate in the National Geographic Bee for 29 years," said Dill.

Dill described this year's competition as "stiff" and thought that some of the questions were more difficult this year. As a result, contest judges had to be consulted a few times to move the contest forward. Judges for the bee included teachers Susan Dugovic and Bruce Pelqouin. The timekeeper was Dan MacLeod.

Prizes for the 10 finalists included a Toblerone chocolate bar and a certificate. Gahagan and runner-up Fetzner each received a puzzle and an atlas. In addition, National Geographic provided a medal and a beach ball globe for the school champ. "The ten finalists are always excited about receiving a Toblerone bar at the end which is a symbol of their sweet success being in the school bee," said Dill.

Those who win at the state level will be invited to the headquarters for the National Geographic Society May 20th─23rd to compete in the National Geographic Bee Championship. The top prize is a $50,000 scholarship.

Regarding this year's audience of students, school staff and parents watching the bee in the Ward Gym, Dill noted, "I am always proud of the pride that the audience shows in sending one of our students to the state bee."

Photo information:

Caption: (left to right) Nick Days, Ryan Chase, David Patnaude, Eli Potter, Matthew Gahagan, Brian Fetzner, Jonah Curley, Zack Carpenter, Nick Olsen, and Olivia Noury.

Caption: (l to r) Brian Fetzner, Bonnie Dill, Matthew Gahagan.