By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Every January, in schools across the state of Massachusetts, fifth- to eighth-grade students participate in a National Geographic State Bee Competition. This competition continues until hundreds of students are eliminated; only a select few keep advancing forward.
Connor Mongeon is one of those students. With help from his history teacher Jason Ponticelli, he was the school champion from the Oak Middle School after winning several rounds of questions and then still had to take a qualifying test that was submitted to the National Geographic Society. Connor was one of a 100 top-scoring students to be invited to compete in the State Bees.
As the National Geographic State Bee semifinalist, he competed April 6 at Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee. He was also a State Bee semifinalist last year. While he was not the winner, the experience was one in which he will never forget.
“I wasn’t really nervous while competing against my peers at school but once I was at the actual National Geographic Bee competition, I was definitely nervous,” Connor recalled. “I had to be up really early to make the drive out to Chicopee…The test lasted an hour, which consisted of eight verbal questions directed at each of the students. We got a break halfway through. By the end of the day I was exhausted. While I was disappointed as soon as I found out that I was not moving on, I still felt a sense of pride and accomplishment for how far I did come.”
“Last year when he made it as a semifinalist we didn’t know what to expect,” said his mother, Tanya. “This year we did but Connor was still a bit nervous. His dad, Ken, and I are so proud of him. The whole experience was really exciting.”
The top three winners each get a cash prize, a copy of the National Geographic Visual Atlas of the World, 2nd Edition, and a trip to Washington, D.C., to represent their state in the National Geographic Bee Championship at the national Geographic Society Headquarters May 20-23. There are monetary prizes for second and third place as well. The first place national champion will receive a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the society, a subscription to the National Geographic magazine and an all-expense paid expedition to the Galapagos Islands provided by Lindblad.
Connor considers the whole experience as an honor. He had a lot of fun throughout the competition and he is proud to be considered the best in the state at something.
“For me to be one of the best in the state in geography is pretty cool,” said Connor.
In his free time, Connor loves playing baseball and video games. If he can’t play baseball professionally, he wants to pursue a career as a geography teacher.