Wildcat Has Knack For Geography

MINSTER — One local student has qualified to advance to the Ohio State Geography Bee — a feat that Minster Local Schools hasn’t seen since the mid-90s.

Minster seventh-grade student Nick Chalk was named the winner of the Minster Elementary School geography bee on Jan. 17, having out-answered 11 other Minster students from fifth to eighth grade. Chalk was presented with a medal and a certificate for his accomplishment. He then took a 70-question multiple choice exam from the National Geographic Society, which was sent on to Washington, D.C., to determine his state eligibility.

Earlier this month, junior high social studies teacher Mike Wiss received a letter of congratulations explaining Chalk had scored high enough to move on to the next level of competition.

“In past years, you always get this little post card that says, ‘Thank you, but sorry, your kid didn’t pass the test,’” Wiss said. “This one was a form letter that says all this good stuff, we’re happy for him. We have not had anyone advance past this exam since my first year here — that’s 17 years ago. That was Phillip Prenger, the youngest child of Bob and Doris Prenger ... So we wish Nick good luck.”

Although Wiss was unsure exactly how long the geography bee has been held, he said he has records back to 1975. The schoolwide geography bee consisted of two rounds — a final round and a championship round.

The final round featured questions about the United States, with the answers to each question being one of the 50 states. Questions during the championship round — when there were only two students remaining in the bee — could be pulled from anywhere in the world.

The state geography bee will feature a similar methodology, with questions presented in different ways and either answered orally or written down, Wiss said.

“There will be overheads that they will have to answer questions from,” Wiss said. “A lot of it, obviously, will be oral. But if anything, it’ll be a good experience.”

Chalk spoke of the upcoming experience.

“I’m a little nervous,” Chalk said. “But excited, too.”

Chalk has already started to prepare for the state competition, he said.

“We ordered a study guide from the website,” he said.

The Ohio State Geography Bee will be held March 30 at the Ohio State University — Mansfield Campus. One winner from each state and territory will advance to the national competition, which will be held May 22-24 at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C. The 2012 Final Round competition will be aired on May 24 on public television, and it will be moderated by Alex Trebek of Jeopardy.

Nick is the son of Kevin and Lisa Chalk.