Knowledge of geography comes in handy for John Huynh

John Huynh is congratulated by Greencastle-Antrim Middle School principal Gerald Crable after he emerged the Geography Bee champion. He will now seek to qualify for state competition.

And then there was one. John Huynh, a seventh-grade student at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School, bested 15 competitors to win the local Geography Bee Dec. 10.

Seventh and eighth grade social studies students were tested to become eligible to participate in the academic activity. The top eight in each grade made it to the stage. They answered questions presented by principal Gerald Crable, with scoring trusted to teachers Casey Brookens and Fred Yelton. Fellow students and parents watched with baited breath.

While one student was absent, the rest fared well with Round 1, comprised of 10 questions. They wrote answers on dry erase boards in unison. Questions included: Which state has the largest area, Connecticut or Oregon? (Oregon) and Which city was a stop on the transcontinental railway as it entered the Great Basin - Ogden, Utah or Topeka, Kansas? (Ogden).

Four students were eliminated based on the number of correct answers.

In the finals round, questions were much tougher. Each student received separate questions and responded from a microphone. The queries included: The Thousand Island International Bridge stretches from Canada to which state east of Lake Ontario? (The guess was Michigan and the answer was New York).  Also, The Lookout Mountain ridge from Georgia to Alabama, a Civil War battlefield, is located close to Chattanooga in what state? (The guess was Nevada and the answer was Tennessee).

Everyone gave a wrong answer to their first question, so the format returned to writing on the dry erase boards. Eight went down on the question: The Wabash River is part of the border between Illinois and what other state? (Indiana).

Three remained, and viewed a map of the contiguous 48 states. One question was: The coordinates of 45 degrees north latitude and 90 degrees west longitude intersect what state? (Wisconsin). John Huynh and eighth graders Alana Ebbitt and Colton Holt passed the first round. Eventually, Huynh and Ebbitt squared off for the title. One question Huynh answered correctly was: Tet is a holiday for the new year in what country west of the Gulf of Tonkin? He correctly responded Vietnam.


Huynh was happy to earn the championship.

“It feels great to win,” he said. “We beat the eighth grade, which was tough.”

He checked books out of the library to study, although he concentrated on countries while most of the questions related to states.

“My sister got out a book, too,” he added. “It helped a lot. If not for that book, I wouldn’t have done so good to win this contest.”

Huynh will take a test in January to try to qualify for the state competition.

He received a medal, National Geographic atlas and tee shirt. The other contestants also received the shirt and certificates. They were: eighth grade - Bridget Arnoult, Alana Ebbitt, Tony Dunagan, Colton Holt, Morgan Bush, Alex Jackson, Amber Heffernan, absent Joe Sellers; seventh grade - Drake Conaway, Cole Eberly, Michael Goldbach, James Hines, Kevin Noble, Scott Harrison and Montana Scott.

Alanna Ebbitt gives a correct answer during the Greencastle-Antrim Middle School Geography Bee. She is flanked by the others in the final three, John Huynh and Colton Holt.