Six from county enter state geography bee

March 30, 1997


Staff Writer

Colin Makin remembers getting really excited about geography as a second-grader at Fountain Rock Elementary School, when Project Challenge teacher Colleen Stone introduced him to map reading.

It opened up a world of differences, said Colin, now in fifth grade, who discovered an interest in how things vary from place to place.

"Like, in France, they eat snails. In Vietnam, they eat cats and dogs. In Polynesia, they used to eat people," said Colin, 11, who often amazes parents Tom and Susan Makin with his vast knowledge of world geography, culture and history.


It would be nice, they said, if their son's interest takes him all the way to the National Geography Bee finals in May.

But the Makins are taking things one step at a time, they said, focusing first on the state-level geography bee competition, which happens Friday afternoon at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.

"I'm like the first person in my school to go," said Colin, one of six Washington County students who qualified to compete in this year's state-level competition.

The competition will feature up to 100 students in grades four through eight who won their school competition, then scored in the top 100 on a written exam.

Other Washington County students are Collin Calhoun, a seventh-grader at Clear Spring Middle School; Justin Warner, a seventh-grader at E. Russell Hicks Middle School; Travis King, a fifth-grader at Emma K. Doub Elementary School; and Staish McCarter, an eighth-grader at Smithsburg Middle School.

Seventh-grader Caitlin Pauze Sherman won Washington County's Son Light home schooling group's bee but has since moved to Virginia.

Caitlin, 12, still will compete in the Maryland bee, said her mother, Denise Pauze.

State-level competitions will be held Friday in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.

Winners will each receive $100 and an all-expenses-paid trip with a teacher escort to Washington, D.C., for the National Geography Bee finals May 27 and 28.

The top three national winners will receive a total of $50,000 in scholarships.

The first prize of a $25,000 scholarship would be fantastic, Colin's parents said.

Colin said it would be "nifty" to make it to the finals and get to meet moderator/"Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek. The boy likes to watch the quiz show with his father.

Still, just competing in Annapolis is "awesome," he said.

"I thought it would be exciting to be at state, to be competing with different counties and everything," said Colin, who won his school's geography bee last year but didn't score high enough on the follow-up test to go on.

In addition to reading books, magazines and maps, watching the news and playing geography games - things he does even when he's not preparing for a bee - Colin said he's been studying and getting his parents to quiz him.

His weakness, he admits, is the United States. So his mom has been concentrating on U.S. questions in her drills.

Colin is hoping his lucky T-shirt and the assortment of charms he'll stuff in his pants pocket will keep U.S. questions to a minimum, though.

He's not scared about competing, he said, because he knows from watching others that getting nervous can make you forget what you do know.

He said he's glad that the written part is over, since oral competition is a lot easier.

"You have people to encourage you," said Colin, who'll have both parents and teacher Colleen Stone to cheer him on in Annapolis.

Justin Warner, 13, will have his father, Doug Warner, and his school's bee coordinator with him in Annapolis, said his mother, Jan Warner.

It will be Justin's first state bee, said his mom, who said he won his first school geography bee as a fifth-grader at Bester Elementary School.

Geography is one of Justin's many interests, she said.

"Justin's thing is just trivia in general,'' his mother said. "His mind collects these kinds of things and catalogs it."

Like Colin, Staish McCarter, son of Jan and Jim McCarter of Smithsburg, has an avid interest in geography, his mother said.

Staish, 14, will be at Friday's state bee, she said.

But he hasn't really been studying, just playing his favorite geography game and reading his almanac, she said.

The Herald-Mail Articles