Two Red Wing students advance to state geography beeRed Wing eighth-grader George Nemanich and fifth-grader Jonah Leise both have a long-standing love for geography and social studies.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing eighth-grader George Nemanich and fifth-grader Jonah Leise both have a long-standing love for geography and social studies.
“My dad was a social studies teacher,” Nemanich said. “He got me interested in it. I started reading about it.”
“It’s always been my favorite subject,” Leise agreed. “I like the different cultures, the diversity. I like categorizing things.”
So it’s no surprise that both have qualified to compete in the 2012 Minnesota Geographic Bee next Friday in St. Cloud. Previously, Red Wing students Michael Diercks, Philip Mitchell and Tony Poss advanced to state in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively. Max Christensen competed at the state level in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Though this year is the first time ever that a Red Wing fifth-grader has advanced to state.
“For Jonah to make it as a fifth-grader is outstanding,” Twin Bluff Middle School geography bee coordinator Bonnie Mettling said.
For both students, the path to the state competition began with a written geography test that all fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders took in December. All students, regardless of their grade level, took the same test.
From there, the top scorers then competed in their school’s bee. One was held at Twin Bluff for fifth- through seventh-graders and a second at the high school for eighth-graders.
Nemanich, the son of Mary and George Nemanich, is no stranger to these school-level geography bees. As a sixth-grader, he finished second and placed third as a seventh-grader.
“I was hoping I would do well,” Nemanich said of this year’s competition, which includes both written and oral answers about geography, countries and populations.
For Leise, the son of Michelle and Jim Leise, this was his first school geography bee. And even though he was competing against students one and two years older than him, he said he wasn’t too nervous.
“It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be,” Leise said.
After taking the top spots in their schools, Leise and Nemanich each took a timed, written test to qualify for the state round. And though only the top 100 scorers in the state can compete in St. Cloud, both boys thought they had pretty good chances.
“I was feeling pretty good after that test,” Nemanich said.
“I felt pretty confident that I made it,” Leise said.
Earlier this month, their suspicions were confirmed, when both were invited to the state competition.
“I was pretty excited because I knew I was going to a higher level,” Leise said of when he learned he had advanced.
Now Leise and Nemanich are preparing for next week’s bee.
“I’m studying a little bit, looking at maps,” Nemanich said.
Leise is having his older sister, Elise, quiz him and studying a world atlas his uncle gave him for Christmas.
And while both are taking the competition seriously, neither is stressing out over it.
“I’m pretty excited, but not really nervous,” Nemanich said, adding that he’ll be happy with wherever he places in the competition.
For Leise, there’s really not that much pressure, even though the majority of the competitors will be eighth-graders.
“I can always make it next year,” he said. “And I’ll get to meet people who have the same interests as me.”