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Kendra Baker photos
As part of the annual National Geographic Bee, the winners from Middlebrook School’s team geography bees participated in a schoolwide competition on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
Approximately 20 students, parents and school employees gathered inside the middle school’s media center to watch nine students answer several rounds of questions that tested their knowledge of geography, as well as sociological and historical concepts.

Social studies teacher John Priest moderated the competition, which consisted of a finalist round and a championship round.

In the finalist round, Priest asked each question twice and gave students 15 minutes to answer. Contestants were allowed to have a question repeated or a word spelled two times in the finalist round, and those who answered two questions incorrectly were eliminated.

The finalist round consisted of eight series of questions that gradually increased in difficulty — from United States geography questions like “Which state is bordered by Lake Erie and Kentucky?” to world geography questions like “Slovakia and which other present-day central European country became independent entities in 1993?”

In the finalist round, contestants were asked different questions and answered orally or were read a group question and wrote their answers down on a piece of paper.

After the eighth series of questions, red team eighth grader Jackson Lent and yellow team eighth grader Alexander Koutsoukos were the last two contestants and moved on to the championship round.

Down to two


During the championship round, Priest asked both contestants the same question at the same time and they were given 15 seconds to write down their answers.

Jackson and Alexander answered all three questions correctly, leading to a single-elimination tie-breaker round in which the first contestant to correctly answer a question that the other missed would be named the winner.

Both students answered four questions correctly and two incorrectly in the tie-breaker round, but after Jackson incorrectly answered the question “The Danube River forms part of the border between Bulgaria and which country to the north?” Alexander was crowned champion.

“A well-fought battle that brought out the best in both of you guys,” Priest said to the final two contestants. “Excellent work, very impressive.”

As the school champ, Alexander will take an online test to see if he qualifies for the Connecticut State National Geographic Geography Bee at Central Connecticut State University in April.

Middlebrook has been participating in the bee for more than 10 years, and Alexander was named the state champion last year. Before him, Priest told The Bulletin last year, the school had “always had students advance to the state championships but never finished higher than fourth.”

Students who qualify for the state geography bee will be announced March 4, and the state competition is scheduled for April 1.

The state champion will then go on to compete in a televised national competition, May 22-25, at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about the National Geographic Geo Bee, visit nationalgeographic.com/geobee.