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Eastwood Middle School students in Pemberville struggling with world capitals may want to ask Kyle Henry for help.
The eighth-grader is not only the first Eastwood student to qualify for the state geography bee, but he's qualified two years in a row, said Anne Michel, a sixth-grade social studies teacher.
"I've had an interest in it for as long as I can remember," Kyle said. "I've always been interested in the world and what's out there."
The geography bee is a program of the National Geographic Society designed to encourage teaching and studying geography. The bee is open to students in grades four through eight who are no older than 15. Questions address the subject of geography in its broadest sense and the bee requires that students know where certain places, cultures, and physical features are located.
After winning his school's geography bee in January, Kyle passed the qualifying test to advance to the state level with as many as 99 other students throughout Ohio. The state competition is tomorrow at an Ohio State University regional campus in Mansfield, Ohio.
Though he said he wants to eventually study to be an architect - a field he admitted doesn't require a lot of geography - Kyle said he's always enjoyed looking at maps and reading geography books as he grew up into the 14-year-old he is today.
"It's just something I'm good at," he said.
And all that knowledge comes in handy for competitions.
"When it comes to the geography bee, I never really study for it," he said, acknowledging that he will occasionally look at the geography books he has at home in hopes to make it past the state preliminary rounds this year.
"There were people who really knew their stuff there," he said, adding that he is pretty good at world capitals.
This year, he said he hopes to do better, but doesn't plan on doing anything differently.
"I'll try my best again and stay focused," he said.
The winners of all state-level competitions will get $100 and a trip to Washington to the national-level competition, held May 24 and 25 at the National Geographic Society's headquarters. The winner of the national geography bee will win a $25,000 college scholarship.
"We'll stay home and keep our fingers crossed for Kyle," Mrs. Michel said. Along with geography, Kyle said he enjoys playing baseball and golf and is a member of the honors band, student council, National Junior Honor Society, and quiz bowl at the middle school.