WEST CALDWELL, NJ - “What two countries have a population greater than one billion?” Fourteen students from Wilson Elementary School, West Caldwell, took the stage on Wednesday, March 26, to answer questions like this one when they participated in the school’s first Geography Bee.  Coordinated by the teachers and Principal Scott Keena, each third to fifth-grade classroom held a preliminary Bee to determine which students would represent the school.

The fourteen semi-finalists included third graders Thomas Cader, Taylor Cassano-Patti, Jordan Catrambone, James Quagliana, Joshua Scott and Sofia Testa; fourth graders William Cooperman, Konrad Czyzewski, Olivia Macaluso and Emma Trusio; and fifth graders Maggie Devaney, Oliver Tuck, Aashna Vajramani, and Derek Wang.

The competition actually began last spring when a current third-grade student approached Keena with the idea of a Geography Bee. “I told him it was a great idea and to get back to me in the fall,” said Keena. “He remembered, and this fall approached me about scheduling the competition.”

The students, equipped with white boards and pens, wrote their answers and held them above their heads for the judges to see.

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The fourteen students answered twenty questions, and the ten students displaying the highest number of correct answers continued on to the next round. The ten semifinalists answered ten additional questions, and the three students with the highest number of correct answers proceeded to the final round. Participating in the final round were third graders Joshua Scott and Sofia Testa, and fifth grader Aashna Vajramani.

The final round was close, with second and third place being decided by a tie-breaking question. Scott took first place, with Vajramani taking second and Testa earning third. “It was great to see so many students remembering facts, places, and statistics about our state, our country and beyond,” said Keena.  “To know and display the level of detail required compete even at the local level is quite an accomplishment.