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Hastings Middle School Geography Bee winner Spencer Jorgenson has a new atlas to use in his preparation for the next phase of the competition. (Star Gazette photo by Jane Lightbourn)

Spencer Jorgenson wins HMS Geography Bee

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news Hastings, 55033
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

Spencer Jorgensen prepared by studying the atlas.

It worked. He won the annual Hastings Middle School Geography Bee held Jan. 5 in the school auditorium.

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The eighth-grade student now will complete a written exam for possible advancement in the state competition later his spring.

Jorgenson was one of 10 Hastings Middle School students who competed in the final Geography Bee event Jan. 5. Other semi-finalists were Krista Gomez, Alana Ritt, Noah Sunderland, Katie Roach, Forest Close, Tommy Knutson, Jake Meier, Skyler Rawling and Leighton Sundberg. The other competitor in the final round was Skylar Rawling.

Middle School Principal Mark Zuzek and Cody McNary, 2009 Geography Bee winner, were the questioners. Jan Hertel and Christy Warner, seventh-grade geography teachers, were the judges.

Questions were about states, rivers, national parks and famous mountain ridges.

"I didn't think I'd win, as there were the other smart kids," said Jorgenson.

Last year Jorgenson did not make it to the final round of competition. This year, he did a little more studying.

"What I did was read an atlas at night," he said.

Hertel has coordinated the school's Geography Bee for more than 20 years and is an enthusiastic supporter.

"It is really fun to see the kids recognized by their peers," she said. "Plus, I really believe students have to know about their country, their world and what is around them."

This school year marks the 23rd year the National Geographic Society is holding the National Geographic Bee for students in fourth through eighth grades.

All 1,100 Hastings Middle School students participated in the classroom round of the bee, which was in written form. From this, the top 10 in each grade qualified for the intermediate round, which included both written and oral questions. That number was reduced to the 10 who competed last week.

The field of 10 must be narrowed to two finalists by National Geographic rules. When a participant has missed two questions, he/she is eliminated.

Jorgenson and Rawling answered the same three written questions. They were tied at the end of the round. The tiebreaker sealed the victory for Jorgenson. For winning the local bee, Jorgenson was presented an illustrated atlas and a medal. All participants received certificates.

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