Thinking globally

RI students compete for chance to represent state on national GeoBee stage


For the past 31 years, Rhode Island students in grades four through eight have competed for top honors in the Rhode Island Geography Bee and the chance to travel to the national contest in Washington, D.C.

Students begin their GeoBee journey in their own classrooms and earn their way to the state tournament through school-wide competition. On March 29, 49 stu-dents from across the Ocean State gathered at the Scottish Rite Audi-torium next to Rhodes on the Paw-tuxet in Cranston to test their knowledge of the world and vie for a trip to the nation’s capital.

In the end, Eli Terrell, a return-ing contestant who is in the eighth grade at Barrington Middle School, took first place. But many local students were in the running and made it to the event’s final rounds.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and state Education Commissioner Ken Wagner welcomed the contestants to the competition before students were divided into three groups.

“This is exciting for our stu-dents, but also very nerve-racking,” Denise M. Moretti-Foggo, state coordinator for the Geography Bee, told the parents, family members, teachers and oth-ers in attendance for the day’s event. “We have spoken to the contestants about good sportsman and ask that you show respect for them as well.”

Moretti-Foggo introduced Dr. Paul Lucier from the College of Business Administration at the University, who has served as the event’s moderator for nine years. Lucier explained the format of questions, rules for disqualification and accepted behaviors.

In addition to Terrell, the stu-dents who made up the top 10 fi-nalists were Nate Gray, a seventh-grader from Moses Brown; Aidan Paplauskas, a fifth-grader from St. Mary’s School in Cranston; Kieran Jameson, a seventh-grader from J.H. Gaudet Learning Academy in Middletown; Brandon Pierel, an eighth-grader at North Smithfield Middle School; Adam Turner, a seventh-grader at Vincent J. Galla-gher Middle School in Smithfield; Riley Thorpe, a seventh-grader at Warwick Vets Junior High School; Aidan LaRue, a seventh-grader from Wickford Middle School; Dylan Waddell, an eighth-grader from Curtis Corner Middle School in Wakefield; and Jacob Klein, a fifth-grader from Henry Barnard School in Providence.

In the first round, the finalists were given locations of famous museums in the U.S. and were required to name the state in which each is located. No one was elimi-nated in this round.

The second round was based on March being designated as Women’s History Month. Each contestant was given a photo of a woman who impacted society ei-ther in the past or present and con-testants had to identify where each made their contribution.

The third round was multiple choice, while the fourth was based on award-winning journalist Paul Salopek’s 21,000-mile “Out of Eden” walk.

There were more multiple-choice and country identification rounds leading up to round nine, after which Terrell and Klein were the two remaining finalists. In the final round, both were asked three questions.

Terrell emerged with a perfect score. His prize included a $1,000 award, an almanac, a banner and a medal, in addition to the trip to the national competition in May.

All participants received a T-shirt, lanyard, name pin, reusable shopping bag, pencil and certifi-cate.

To learn more about the Bee, visit


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