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May 6, 2009 > Tri-City Student places sixth in California

Tri-City Student places sixth in California

By Praveena Raman
Photos By Arvind Krishnaswamy

Anirudh Kumar, a sixth grader at Challenger School (Newark) and a first time contestant placed sixth in the California State Final Geography Bee which took place on April 3 at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento. The California Geography Bee has the largest number of contestants in all 50 states. This year the top 100 students of over 100,000 4-8 graders from more than 2000 schools were picked to participate in the State final rounds of the competition. The State winner then goes on to participate in the National Geography Bee at Washington D.C.

Influenced by his love for travel and learning about new places 12 year old Anirudh, a Fremont resident, developed a keen interest for Geography a few years back. His passion grew as he started watching Geo Bee shows on TV and collecting the DVD's of all the previous National finals in Washington D.C. Inspired by last year's California State Geography Bee winner, Nikhil Desai, also a student from Challenger (Newark), Anirudh decided to have a goal and try to be the Geography Bee champion at Challenger School in 2009 and go to the finals. He started preparing for the event in the summer of 2008.

In the first step towards his goal, he became the sixth grade class winner in the Geo Bee contest. Next he won the School Geo Bee final competition to become the 2009 Champion at Challenger School. Anirudh then joined other school champions from over 2000 schools in California to take a written test to qualify as one of the top 100 State Bee contestants. Successfully qualifying, he went to Sacramento to participate in the State Finals. Anirudh survived all the preliminary rounds; in the last of the preliminary rounds, about 8 questions were posed to the remaining contestants and 19 of them, including Anirudh, got all 8 questions right, moving to the elimination round to determine the top 10 places.

Anirudh says "the questions on historical geography (based on historical events) and those based on Google Earth images were difficult and I was happy to get them right." Once in the top 10, contestants are eliminated when they made 2 mistakes. Anirudh went through several rounds of 9 or 10 questions each before being eliminated and ranked sixth. Asked if he had been nervous Anirudh says, "I was extremely nervous but once the preliminaries were completed and I got 8 out of 8 correct and my place in the next round was certain, my confidence grew. I knew that I had a real chance to win even though this was my first attempt in the State finals and there were many who were competing for the second or third time."

The Bee lasted 10 semi-final rounds and 17 final rounds with the Champion decided after 3 rounds and 2 tie-breaking questions. Other Tri-City students who were in the top 100 finalists to go to Sacramento were Trisha Agrawal (Fremont), Isaac Hung (Fremont), and Ankit Shah (Fremont). Anirudh plans to prepare even more and participate again next year. "I hope I can make it to the top next year and represent California in the National Finals," says Anirudh.

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