Last modified: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 11:55 PM EDT Marblehead student to compete in geography bee By Laura Paine / For the

Item MARBLEHEAD - Graham Jackson has proven he is gifted when it comes to knowing geographical locations. The Marblehead Veterans Middle School eighth grader will use his knowledge and skill in the National Geographic Bee's state competition on Friday at Worcester State College. "Ever since fourth grade I have really been talented at knowing where countries are and where locations are on Marblehead Veterans Middle School eighth the map and I just kind of went off from there," Jackson grader Graham Jackson, right, along with seventh grade Social Studies teacher Noah said. Pasackow. According to seventh grade Social Studies teacher Noah Pasackow, who is responsible for the school's involvement with the Bee, approximately 500 seventh and eighth grade students, each grade broken up into two teams, competed to move on to the state level competition. "We ended up with two seventh grade winners and three eighth grade winners, because there was a tie on one of the teams, so then with those individuals we determined a champion for the school in which Mr. Jackson won out, I believe after round four or five," Pasackow said. One hundred students in grades four through eight across the country and U.S. territories are competing for the chance to win $100, the National Geographic Collegiate Atlas of the World and an all-expensespaid trip to the National finals in Washington, D.C. next month, giving them a chance to be crowned National Geographic Bee champion. "I know other people who are good at geography are going to be there. I am not very confident I am going to win, but I think if I try hard enough I can go pretty far," Jackson said. "People say that the spelling bee is a much bigger deal, but the Geo-Bee, in my opinion, takes a lot more skill. You have to know more than just spelling a word." Pasackow said that Jackson's participation in the National Geographic Bee is exciting. "I'm excited and eager," he said. "We sent a seventh grade student to states last year. He didn't make it through the preliminary round, but we are looking forward to some success and some representation from Marblehead." The national competition will be moderated by Alex Trebek, of "Jeopardy!" fame, for the 22nd year. First prize is a $25,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. A teacher from the winner's school district will also be invited to the summer's Geo Teachers' Institute at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Second place winners will receive a $15,000 college scholarship and the third place winner will receive a $10,000 college scholarship. In addition to the scholarship, the national winner, with a parent or guardian, gets an all-expenses-paid trip.

"The prize is a trip to the Galapagos Islands, so that would be really cool," Jackson said. "I never really have been in a competition as big as (the national level), it would be kind of a thrilling experience." Jackson enjoys traveling. He said that he has been to a number of destinations including Europe, his favorite stop being Venice, Italy. "I went on a gondola ride and I got a taste of the culture," he said. The state Geographic Bee will be held on Friday at Worcester State College, 48 Chandler St., Worcester, with the preliminary rounds beginning at 1:45 p.m. The final round will be held in the Sullivan Auditorium at 3:15 p.m.

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