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Geography Bee battle ends up with Capetown

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Geography Bee battle ends up with Capetown

Paula Hernandez, surrounded by Elizabeth Pardo and William Rutledge, is all smiles after jotting down the right answer.


POSTED January 19, 2009 12:10 a.m.
FRENCH CAMP — Mark Poncardas had to play the Geography Bee waiting game Friday.
The French Camp School seventh-grade student breezed through the preliminary round while the rest of the field battled for the other finalist spot.
Poncardas, 12, needed a tie-breaker against fellow seventh-grader, Amy Dolores, to finally emerged as the school champion.
“I studied every night,” he said in preparation for the Geography Bee.
Poncardas and Dolores fielded nine questions in the tie-breaker, with Poncardas correctly answering “South Africa” in response to Capetown being situated between the Atlantic and Indian oceans.
Matt Hutsell, social studies teacher for seventh- and eighth- grade students,  served as the Geography Bee moderator.
The two finalists along with William Rutledge, Chris Arcos, Paula Hernandez, Jairo Prado, Elizabeth Juarez, Javier Garcia and Alyssa Barretta reached the school-wide event
“Each endured seven grueling rounds (in the classroom) to get here,” Hutsell said.
Dr. Peggy Hauselt from the Department of Geography at California State University, Stanislaus served as one of the judges. “Some of the questions were tough even for me,” she later admitted.
Some students guessed the answer. Take Barretta, for example.
The sixth-grade student was posed the question, “The Imperial Valley, located south of the Salton Sea and known for its irrigated truck farms producing fruits and vegetables, is found in which U.S. state?”
She was surprised that her last-second response “California” was correct.
Meanwhile, Dolores had to edge out Garcia to reach the finals.
She correctly answered “Brazil” when asked, “Sugarcane is used to produce ethanol, which provides approximately 40 percent of the fuel in which large South American country?”
Meddy Alcantara, Poncardas’ uncle, had no doubt the youngster would get “The Philippines” right when asked the location of Manila.
“He was born there,” said Alcantara, who has helped raise the youngster since he was an infant.
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