MARSHALL - Holy Redeemer School student Sam Garvey will be among the best geography students across Minnesota today at Saint Cloud State University.
Garvey, an eighth-grader at HRS, qualified for the 2012 Minnesota Geography Bee after winning the school's fourth-grade through eighth-grade competition and then passing the written state-qualifying test. Garvey will be one of 100 students to compete for the top 10 places.
"I feel good about it," Garvey said. "I've been practicing a little bit, and I'm hoping for the best."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Holy Redeemer School eighth-grader Sam Garvey will be one of 100 students across the state to participate in the 2012 Minnesota Geography Bee today at Saint Cloud State University. It’s the second straight year Garvey has advanced to the state level.
Garvey also advanced to the state competition a year ago as a seventh-grader, so he has that experience to build on.
"It was a good experience last year," he said. "It was difficult. There were quite a few people there. Only the top 10 get placed. I'm hoping to place in the top 10 this year. That would be amazing."
Kim Louwagie, HRS seventh- and eighth-grade social studies teacher, believes that heading back to state for the second straight year will be an advantage for Garvey.
"Being back a second year, he knows so much more," said Louwagie, who also coordinates the school bee. "And he's very self-motivated."
Louwagie also doesn't feel she needs to push Garvey to improve his knowledge any more than he pushes himself.
"I don't need to give him any advice," she said. "He is very, very interested in geography and he studies up on his own. He does practice quizzes online and I know he watches 'Jeopardy.' I don't have a lot of other ideas for him because he's doing all those things already."
Garvey has also participated in Knowledge Bowl for the past two years.
"That's another way of building that knowledge, through Knowledge Bowl competition," Louwagie said. "Sam can continue that through high school."
More recently, Garvey has familiarizing himself with maps of the entire world.
"I've looked at atlases, looked at questions from last year and previous times that I went to Geography Bee at state," Garvey said. "The questions aren't just about the U.S. either. It's the whole world."
Garvey's hoping to he doesn't get any questions about islands, though he expects a good deal of questions about current events.
"My weakness would probably be islands," he said. "There's so many islands. I'm good with current events, but you just have to stay up to date. A lot of questions last year were about Haiti. I need to go home and study some more on current events."
Since starting the National Geography Bee at HRS four years ago, Louwagie said the school's winner has advanced to the state competition all four times. But this is the first time that Louwagie herself has been able to accompany the school representative.
"Teachers are always welcome to go," she said. "They also allow two other adults to go with each child. This is the fourth year I've sent someone, but this is the first year I'm attending. I'd like to see how it goes."
For the preliminary round at the 2012 state competition, students are placed in one of five rooms.
"You pretty much go into the classroom at St. Cloud State," Garvey said. "You go and hope you get some easy questions. It's mostly oral questions."
Garvey remembers being given seven rounds of random questions last year.
"The best 10 people go on to finals," Garvey said. "If you get seven out of seven, you automatically go on. If you get five or six right, depending on how everybody else does, you might go to a tiebreaking round. Even to get there would be nice."
The final round of the competition narrows the field down to two finalists, who will then compete in the championship round.
While the competition is fierce, there's one thing Louwagie knows for sure.
"It's tough competition," she said. "But I know Sam will do a good job representing HRS and the community."