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Greencastle preteen knows her way around the world

February 11, 2008|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Noni Arnoult, 12, said she became interested in geography a year ago because of the maps her parents have around the house.

That interest, and a lot of studying, helped the Greencastle-Antrim seventh-grader beat 19 other contestants in the Greencastle-Antrim Middle School Geography Bee, which was held Jan. 4 and 11.

The question Noni answered to win was: "Name the independent country located within the city of Rome," said Cliff Olson, gifted support teacher at Greencastle-Antrim Middle and High School.

The answer was Vatican City, Noni said.

"I think it's hard to be naturally good at geography," Noni said. "You can't be good at geography without studying."

Noni's house contains maps of countries and states, and a globe, she said.

Her interest in geography is bound to get a boost because in July, she is traveling to Yellowstone National Park with her grandmother.

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The Bee was sponsored by the National Geographic Society and facilitated by Olson, who encouraged her to enter the competition.

"I thought it sounded fun," Noni said. "I chose to do it before I knew how much studying my parents would have me do."

Noni's parents, Scott and Susan Arnoult of Greencastle, helped her study an atlas and two geography books, as well as flashcards, Noni said.

She also went over practice questions with Olson.

Noni began preparing for the competition about three weeks in advance, she said.

Noni estimated that she made more than 200 flashcards. She said that because she is good at remembering what she writes down, the flashcards helped her win.

The first part of the competition, on Jan. 4, was the preliminary round with seven questions. Noni did not miss any and went on to the final phase of the competition, which decreased the number of students from 19 to seven.

Noni said she did not think the questions she was asked were too challenging, but some that went to other students were difficult. The final round was double-elimination, with three questions and a final question. The questions were about capitals, landmarks and economics, Noni said.

The win did not sink in right away, Noni said.

"It didn't seem very big until I got home," Noni said. "(My parents) were a lot more excited than I was."

Now Noni is waiting to learn if she will compete at the state level in Harrisburg, Pa. She had to take a 70-question multiple-choice test and mail it to the National Geographic Society.

"Noni said she thought the written test was easy," Olson said.

Noni said she was confident she did well on the test and would be able to go to Harrisburg, but she was not sure when she would receive the test results.

Noni entered the gifted program at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School this school year.

"To get in the gifted program, students have to score 130 (or above) on an IQ test," Olson said. "Noni's up there."

Noni meets with Olson every six days, along with 10 other middle-schoolers in the gifted program.

"It's mostly just kind of a way to cool off (and) let our brains rest without not learning anything," Noni said.

The national championship for geography is May 20 and 21 in Washington D.C.

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