Sixth-grader returns to state geography bee
NL student earns spot at event
By Scott Bellile
Will Hoover is hopeful his second state geography bee will end more successfully than his first.
In the words of the New London Intermediate/Middle School student, the 2016 Wisconsin National Geographic State Bee was a “tragic turn of events.”
The night before the bee, he came down with a “horrible, horrible” 101-degree fever and lay in his hotel room. At the bee, he didn’t answer enough questions correctly to qualify for the finals.
While the illness was out of his control, he took note of the high level of competition at state. He pushed aside weightlifting and tree-climbing and amped up the studying for this year’s goal: get seven of eight questions right, a number he believes could earn him a shot at the final round.
The 2017 Wisconsin National Geographic State Bee takes place Friday, March 31 in Madison. To qualify, Will won his school geography bee, then placed in the top 100 for a statewide written exam.
At the state bee, the 100 qualifiers will be narrowed down to 10 finalists and then one champion. Each state champ across the country will win a trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Geographic Bee Championship from May 14-17.
Will Hoover, the son of Maxine and Terry Hoover, will be one of nine sixth-graders competing at the state bee.
“It’s kind of indescribable, really,” Will said. “Getting there, all the work pays off really once you study for countless hours and stuff, so it really feels good when you have a shot at doing something like this.”
“We’re excited for him,” Terry said. “It’s fascinating too for him to be able to meet kids from all across the state that have the same kind of passion.”
Will’s interest in geography formed around age 3 when he started reading children’s maps, Terry said. Within a couple years, he memorized the states and their capitals.
Carol Steinert at Readfield Elementary fostered his geographical interests in third grade.
“His third grade teacher really encouraged his world knowledge and global knowledge, and we think she’s been a great help to him,” Terry said. “… She’s always been a big fan of his, encouraging him.”
Will said sixth grade social studies class has helped prepare him. He has yet to get a question wrong on his quizzes or homework, he said. Class also improved his weak spot: physical geography, the study of landforms and weather.
As for his strong suit?
“How do I say this? Cities and stuff, and countries and capitals is my biggest weapon I think,” Will said.
Terry added: “His interest in geography is not just names of places, but it’s also the people and the cultures that go with places around the world. And he’s become very fascinated with different cultures and their traditions, how they live, what their local economies are like.”
The Hoovers plan to take Will to Washington, D.C. this summer to see the history and sights. Terry said they’ll see what happens if Will goes in May for the national bee.
For now, Terry said it’s “pretty cool” that his son is hooked on geography and doing great things with it at his age.
“We’re very proud and excited for him,” Terry said.