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Owen Middle’s National Geographic Bee
Owen Middle’s National Geographic Bee
Posted on 01/23/2018
Owen Middle's top three bee competitors stand in the media center.By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Dept.

Pop quiz:
The easternmost part on the Horn of Africa is located in which country? Or, how about this one: Which state straddles the Tropic of Cancer — Hawaii or Alaska?

Imagine yourself answering these questions in front of your peers to win a seat at the National Geographic Bee. That’s exactly what the students at Charles D. Owen Middle did this week, and they named eighth-grader Charlotte Lannigan their new champion! (Ian Diez and Liam Gildner took second and third place, respectively.)

More than a hundred Owen Middle students participated in the preliminary seven-round competition, which determined the 10 finalists who competed on January 22. Along with 10,000 schools nationwide, students at North Buncombe Middle, Valley Springs Middle, and Koontz Intermediate followed a similar process. Each school’s champion must then take an online test through the National Geographic Society, which will determine the top 100 students in each state. In North Carolina, these state-level competitors will go head-to-head this spring.

At Owen Middle, students sat anxiously in Mr. Wayne Drummond’s classroom while he welcomed them and read the rules for the National Geographic Bee. Drummond is a veteran teacher who began his work with Buncombe Schools in 1995 at Reynolds High. In 1997, he joined the staff at Owen Middle, where he serves today as a specialist for academically and intellectually gifted students. During the week, he splits his time between Black Mountain Elementary and Owen Middle, teaching a different grade each day of the week.

Charlotte Lannigan is named Owen Middle's bee champion!“I try not to talk about my job too much because I have the best job in the building… I don’t want to rub it in,” Drummond joked “I get to teach all subjects and see them grow up over many years. My students are bright, and they challenge me as I challenge them.”

Drummond’s students have competed in the National Geographic Bee for many years, and he recalled a student named Taylor Morris who nearly 20 years ago placed first in the state and sixth in the nation, before attending Harvard University. This year, his students hope to compete for a trip to Washington and a $50,000 college scholarship. But according to the rules, Owen can only send one student out of their ten finalists.

In the initial rounds, contestants were eliminated when they answered two questions incorrectly. The first round was particularly difficult and only three students answered their questions correctly. By the fifth round, only four students remained, and the goal was narrow the pool to two contestants. Liam Gildner secured Third Place before Charlotte Lannigan and Ian Diez progressed to the final round. Three questions were then given, and the student who answered more of them correctly earned the medal. It took two rounds like this before Charlotte emerged as the victor with a huge smile on her face.

“I honestly didn’t expect to be here,” Charlotte said, wearing a shiny medal as she admitted being nervous about two of her answers, but proud to represent her school.

"She made it look easy," Drummond said of Charlotte's performance in the school’s finals, "But all of the students were sharp and earned their way there."

8th-grader Brandon Smith was also one of Owen’s ten finalists. Prior to the bee, he explained that he wanted to participate because of all that he would learn about other cultures and the interesting places he had never visited, such as Paris. This is exactly what Mr. Drummond hoped for with his students -- that the difficult questions would reveal how much there was to learn about the world.

“We want them to be global citizens,” Drummond said.

Now, back to the pop quiz: The easternmost part on the Horn of Africa is located in Somalia, and Hawaii straddles the Tropic of Cancer.

More Information about the National Geographic Bee is available here.

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