MGAES Holds Geography Bee After National Event Gets Canceled

On January 14, Owen Fleck, a seventh-grader at Meadow Glade Adventist Elementary School, won the school’s geography bee competition for the third time. It was Owen’s fourth time competing in the annual school bee.

Following Fleck's first win as a fourth-grader in 2019, he advanced to the state National Geographic Bee competition.

Last year, when the National Geography Bee was postponed, Malaika Childers, MGAES fifth-sixth grade teacher, organized a virtual school-sponsored bee with representatives from grades three-eight.

It is a long-standing tradition for MGAES students to do well at the National Geography Bee, and occasionally even sends students to the state competitions. So when this year's event was permanently cancelled, organizing a school-sponsored event was prioritized. 

This year's hybrid geography bee was modeled after a structure similar to last year's. After taking a written test to determine eligibility, the contestants met in the gym with Ric Peinado, principal; Childers, bee coordinator; and Josh MacLachlan, athletic director and geography bee assistant.

Although MGAES is meeting in-person for learning, it is still a closed campus to visitors. So, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles logged onto Zoom from the comfort of their homes to watch students participate. Simultaneously, fellow students watched from their classrooms as the event was projected on classroom screens.

The hybrid model created a surprising advantage for some of the younger viewers who needed help understanding the questions. Janet Rich, first and second grade teacher, said, “I was able to really engage my students in the whole process ... we could talk about each question, make our own guess, and cheer when we got it right. Also, I love being able to point out my former students who are participating. I subtly let my class know I am expecting to see them up there one day. I think it would be fun to actually have some maps and atlases out next time, to look up [answers to] some of the weird but true questions.”

The bee began with a short video introducing each of the contestants. Students then took turns answering geography questions. Contestants were eliminated from the competition after their third incorrect answer. 

Fleck and Roegan Jones were the final two contestants participating in the championship round. Fleck became the 2022 geography bee winner by correctly answering a question about the Great Lakes.

With appreciation for participating, Roegan commented, “I am thankful I was in the geography bee because I like being ‘friendly rivals’ with my friends.”

"I liked that it wasn’t in-person with a bunch of people staring at me," said Fleck. "I feel like there is less pressure when there isn’t a giant audience.”

Fleck is no stranger to school geography bees. Following his first win in 2019, he passed a qualifying test to advance to the state competition. He also participated in the 2020 bee. He had his second win in the school's 2021 geography bee.

This year, Fleck was awarded a $100 cash prize for his win. The prize was donated by a friend of MGAES who learned the school was once again holding an independent bee.

The competitors at MGAES included fourth-graders, Jacob Bolotnikov, Ian Dowie and Josiah Perrin; sixth-graders, Jordan Hall, Avery Heinrichs,and Paxton MacKenzie, seventh-graders, Owen Fleck and Roegan Jones and eighth-grader, Selah Hurtado. 

Peinado said, "For the second year in a row, Mrs. Childers has pulled off an outstanding School Geography Bee for the benefit of all our students in grades three through eight. All of our participants are to be commended for their accomplishments of being grade level representatives. It was quite exciting to participate in a hybrid bee (with students being virtual and in-person). A huge shout-out to our geography bee [winners, Owen Fleck in first place, and Roegan Jones in second]."

Featured in: March/April 2022


Malaika Childers

Meadow Glade Adventist Elementary School fifth- and sixth-grade teacher