We arrived at 10:00 am to the most beautiful non-college campus I have ever been to in my life. Green grass, several monuments, two museums, one library, a chapel, and a visitor center occupied the open grounds of the presidential library's campus. The Geography Alliance was very grateful because we were allowed access to the facilities for no cost.
For two hours we prepared for the competition. Going over the rules, looking over the questions to make sure we could pronounce all the unfamiliar words, and creating the score boards for each group. Lunch was provided and Catholicgauze had his Lenten cheesy breadsticks.
At noon we helped with the sign in process and talked with the contestants and their parents to put them in a less-intense state. Several speakers came to discuss the bee and remind everyone they were the top 100 geography bee students in the state and therefore they were all winners.
After the speeches it was time to break up into groups for the individual rounds. The group I was in was "Red Group." The questions ranged from two-choice softballs to one's that can only be equated to being repeatedly mauled by an extremely angry bear. After eight rounds we had one student get seven right, several get six right, and most kids getting five or four right. One of the fellow judges repeatedly commented to the other judges and me that this was "the result of No Child Left Behind," over and over and over again. It went well beyond any reasonible political point and deep into just be annoying. She was not happy with the group result.
A group of judges got together to pick the ten best students overall. Much to the surprise of the "No Child Left Behind" judge, several kids earned perfect scores and a few more earned sevens. All of the top ten either answered eight or seven questions right. No more mention of politics or educational policy were uttered. In the meantime, I broke off to join the other judges and helped distribute T-shirts, cookies, and punch to the contestants and their parents.
It was time for the final around at 3:30 pm. The motley crew was pretty much an even distribution of public schooled, Catholic schooled, and home schooled children. Two of the ten were students of Indian descent (the one's from Asia). The double elimination round went quickly. After a back-and-forth face-off, a public schooled ethnic Indian student won third. There were then two left: a Catholic school girl and the second ethnic Indian student. After three questions it was clear who the winner was. It was the same as last year- the same ethnic Indian student now in the seventh grade.
After the championship round I discussed the results with another judge who happens to also be an ethnic Indian. He told me how that the "creme of the crop" of Indians are the ones who are immigrating to America to improve their fortunes even further. Education is deeply stressed in their children. The winner and his dad reviewed almost daily for a year on geography. I in turn told the other judge about how private school have the mostly-accurate stereotype of being more academically challenging than public schools.
I received a packet on "My Wonderful World" and a T-shirt for helping out. I also had time to hit up the presidential library's gift shop to purchase a coffee mug, post card, and a seventy-five cent air plane glider (hey, cheap fun cannot be beat!)
On the way back the clouds began to darken as a thunderstorm rolled in. When I returned to my residence it started to rain. Soon a lovely spring thunderstorm began to commence.
So hear I am. It is now time to retire after a swell day of geography.