By Michelle Miller
---- — Cooperstown Central School student Tommy Knight has done it again — he will compete in the 2013 New York National Geographic Bee.
This will be Tommy’s third time competing in the state competition, which will held at the New York State Museum in Albany on April 5. The CCS student has never made it to the final round as an elementary student. But now that he is in middle school, and has been there done that, he is upping his expectations, saying he would like to be included in the top 10.
“You pretty much have to get all the questions right to get that far,” Tommy said. “It is really hard to do.”
The first year Tommy competed in states he got seven out of eight questions right and still did not make it to the final round. The second year he got five questions out of eight.
Tommy qualified for the state competition by passing a written test after winning his district’s middle school geography bee competition in December. During that competition, he did not miss a single question.
According to social studies teacher John Brotherton, Tommy had to get almost all the question right on the written test to qualify for states.
“I believe the test had 70 questions. It covered cultural history, cultural geography, historical geography, geographic terms, analogies and map questions,” he said.
“It is a pretty comprehensive evaluation of a student’s knowledge of geography, and Tommy stands out in all those areas,” Brotherton added. “I’m not surprised that he did well.”
Brotherton said it would be great if Tommy made it to nationals, but feels getting to the finals is a more realistic goal.
“Just to get to the finals at the state competition is a big deal,” Brotherton said.
It has been a long time since the district had a middle school student competing at this level, according to Brotherton. He said the last one to do so was Catherine Anania, who he thought graduated about three years ago.
Tommy said he “obviously really wants to do well,” but is not feeling as much pressure as he does when competing against his peers.
“You know that it is a lot harder and the competition is a lot better, so honestly, for me, the school competition is more nerve-wracking,” he said.
The CCS social studies teacher gives Tommy most of the credit for his well-versed knowledge.
“We do not emphasize geography the way we probably did in the past,” Brotherton said. “A lot of knowledge he has is stuff he has learned on his own.”
Tommy said he has soaked up a lot of information from reading.
The seventh-grader said he is happy to have the opportunity to go to states again.
“It’s one of those things that I have been doing for a long time and it would have been a little bit of a let down if I didn’t do it this year,” he said.
Tommy said he thought the test questions were harder this year compared to the last couple of years. However, he said it made it mean more to him to qualify because students with the top 100 scores are selected from the entire state.
“Usually the people who win it are the eighth-graders,” Tommy said. “They generally have the most experience.”
Tommy said he continues to study in hopes of bettering his chances.
“I’ve learned that if you really want to do well you have to study a lot,” he said. “The people who win are studying for the whole year for like two hours a day. You just cannot compete with that.”
Tommy’s parents are expected to travel to the competition with their son. However, Tommy said they will probably not get to see much unless he makes it to the final round because much of the competition is not done in front of the public.
The state winner will receive $100, The “Complete national Geographic on DVD” and a trip to Washington, D.C., where he or she will represent New York in the national finals at the National Geographic Society headquarters in May. The first place winner of the national competition will receive a $25,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the society. The national winner will also travel (along with one parent or guardian), all expenses paid, to the Galapagos Islands.