POCANTICO HILLS, N.Y. -- Seventh-grader Faisal Saquib was crowned champion for the second year in a row at the National Geographic Bee held at Pocantico Hills School last month.
Thousands of schools participate in the annual competition for students in grades 4 through 8, and for the last two years, Saquib beat out the nine other finalists. Christian Kirchmann, an eighth- grader, was runner-up in this year’s competition.
The students on stage represented the top two finalists from each grade, and the school winner goes on to test online to qualify for the state finals, so these were tense and anxious moments, according to a release from Pocantico Hills Central School District.
Saquib made it to states last year, and very nearly went on to nationals. However, Interim Principal Adam Brown wanted to make it clear that all finalists deserve a cheer. “Let’s give them a big round of applause, because these 10 finalists are already winners!” he said at the start of the competition.
Rounds alternated between written and oral questions as the competitors faced tough questions that tested the students' knowledge of state locations and geographic features including rivers and mountain ranges, as well as landmarks, the release said.
As the students moved into the fourth round, the questions became more global.
Between rounds, Brown engaged the audience by asking them questions and fielding the crowd’s answers.
On stage, two wrong answers resulted in elimination, and eventually the field was down to two. The championship round took six difficult questions to resolve, including three single-elimination tiebreakers, culminating with Saquib as champion and Kirchmann taking the second spot. The two then enthusiastically celebrated with the other finalists.
Saquib will test online to qualify for the state competition on Friday, March 31, in Albany.