Geography Bee Stops All but One
Pierce, Victoria, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Victoria Pierce Daily Herald Staff Writer
Parnell Dean of Mokena is probably one of the few people in the United States who could name the capital of Turkmenistan without first looking it up on a map.
The eighth-grader's extensive knowledge of maps, history and obscure country facts paid off Friday when he correctly answered Ashgabat, becoming the Illinois National Geographic Bee champion at the competition in Warrenville.
Parnell competed against 100 other students from across the state and will represent Illinois in the national geography bee next month in Washington, D.C.
"I'm pretty glad to get this far," said Parnell, who attends Mokena Junior High School. "It's really not about looking at maps. It's finding out information about a country's economy, culture and geography."
Parnell made it through an hour-long round of finals, beating out nine other students including second-place finisher Dan Diamond of Oak Park and Taylor French, a seventh-grader at Hadley Junior High in Glen Ellyn, who placed third.
Other local students who made it to the finals were Nathan Cheng, an eighth-grader at Jefferson Junior High in Naperville and Charlie Poole, a home-schooled seventh-grader from West Chicago.
"Those questions were pretty tough," said Cheng, who was making his second trip to the finals and slipped up when he forgot that Ahmadabad is a city located in India.
But Cheng knew that Lake Managua was in Nicaragua and that Fredericton, Canada, was in the province of New Brunswick.
Although there is only one state champion, none of the 101 students participating in the state geography bee were slouches when it came to knowing how to read a map and how to apply it to the history and culture of the world's countries.
Many had spent hours poring over an atlas, looking up information on the Internet, watching the news and reading newspapers and National Geographic magazine, which sponsors the contest. …