Gaeta 7th-grader to represent DODDS at national bee
GAETA, Italy — Andrew Jefferson is used to the questions people ask as he walks around his school.
Is the seventh-grader nervous? Excited?
Tougher questions will come next week when he faces 54 other pupils — and maybe “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek — at the National Geographic Geography Bee.
“I’m really happy, and really nervous, too,” said the 12-year-old Gaeta American School student. “I just study my hardest, but go on with a normal day.”
Andrew will represent the Department of Defense Dependents Schools in the May 19-21 bee in Washington, D.C. Trebek will moderate the competition once it’s whittled down to 10 pupils.
The bee, open to all fourth- to eighth-grade pupils in U.S. public and private schools, has three stages. Andrew qualified by first winning oral and written competitions at his school and at a DODDS-wide level.
The questions don’t cover just geographical locations. They also encompass political, economical, cultural and historical matters.
For example, a past winning national question was: Pashtu and Dari are the official languages of which mountainous, landlocked country in southwestern Asia? Answer: Afghanistan.
Andrew, a sci-fi book fan, prefers the historical topics. He’s pored over books and played computer quiz games like Hangman, taking time out of class to study in the library.
“My dad’s had several talks with me about how they’re going to be proud of me no matter how I do,” he said.
Traveling with him to the States will be his dad, Richard, an electronic technician on the USS La Salle, plus his mom, brother and sister.
“I think my brother’s jealous; he seems to be extra mean to me lately,” Andrew said with a smile.
Also going on the trip is his world geography teacher, James Coyle.
“I just want him to be proud of what he’s done so far, go there and have a blast,” Coyle said.
The top three contestants get college scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $25,000.
For more information on the bee, go to http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ geographybee/.