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Greece was the only country that stood between Sam Grandaw and Griffin Dunsinger.
By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Greece was the only country that stood between Sam Grandaw and Griffin Dunsinger.

Grandaw knew Greece is home to Mt. Olympus, making him Big Park Community School’s geography bee winner.

Grandaw is a sixth-grade student at Big Park.

Dunsinger, a fifth-grade student, was the runner-up.

“I’m really into geography and I read a lot about different countries,” Grandaw said.

Big Park’s bee is part of the larger National Geographic Bee taking place across the country.

Classroom bees in fourth- through eighth-grade classrooms determined school competitors.

A point system, rather than single or double elimination, was used until there was a clear group of students who had more points.

Each of the 22 participants answered questions during the preliminary round until the group was cut down to seven students for the final round.

Grandaw, Dunsinger, eighth-grader Jade Lewis, seventh-grader Kyle DeTar, sixth-grader Trace Brainard, fifth-grader Sam Priano and fourth-grader Zane Turner were the top seven.

From there, Grandaw and Dunsinger advanced into the championship round, where each was asked the same three questions.

Big Park Principal Steve Gardner moderated the bee.

As the bee progressed through the rounds, the questions became harder.

In early rounds, students where asked easier questions and given two options.

“Which state is more likely to experience a blizzard — Idaho or Arkansas?”

Later, students were asked about cities, countries and continents, but given no choices from which to select their answer.

Big Park librarian Tana Williams organizes the event each year to isolate geography as an area of study.

Geography was taught independently in the past, but has now been combined with social studies and humanities, Williams said.

“The world’s getting smaller,” Williams said, “and the kids need to know where these things are.”

Grandaw now takes a 70-question written geography exam like other Arizona school winners to determine who will compete at the state level.

Students who score in the top 100 on the exam will participate in the state bee on Friday, March 30, at Arizona State University.

State winners advance to the national bee on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 22 and 23, in Washington, D.C., where they will compete for a $25,000 scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.

Alex Trebek, host of “Jeopardy,” will host the national finals on May 23. This segment will air on television.


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