Can you name the country in which the ancient lost city of La Mosquitia can be found? How about the state that is home to the marine national monument known as Papahanaumokuakea? Can you name the country and state that borders Niagara Falls? Or can you tackle these geography puzzlers: name a country whose people speak the language of Wolof; or name the two states that border Lake Havasu.
Well, Majid Ali Shabbeer, a seventh grader from Saint Joseph of Cupertino School can answer these and many more challenging questions about world geography. He participated in and won Saint Joseph of Cupertino’s School Geography Bee on January 31, sponsored by the National Geographic Society. Over 10,000 schools participated in this year’s National Geographic Bee, an annual competition, designed to inspire and reward students’ curiosity about the world. This year’s Bee included categories such as: State Savvy, History Happens, Ocean Wonders, Weird But True/Name a Continent, World of Science, and Cultural Connection.
As a school winner, Majid was invited to take the qualifying test for the National Geographic Society’s state competition for California. Last week he, his parents, and his teachers received the exciting news–his was among the top 100 scores throughout the state, qualifying him as a state semifinalist. He will now participate in the California State Bee on March 31 at California State University, Fresno.
Majid has been a member of the Saint Joseph of Cupertino’s Geography Club ever since it was introduced three years ago as one of the many components of the school’s project-based extracurricular academic program. Students are offered a wide variety of extracurricular academic offerings. They can choose to participate in the projects which appeal to their particular areas of interest. The goals of this extracurricular academic program are to foster intellectual curiosity and provide opportunities to expand students’ knowledge beyond the regular elementary curriculum. Each year about 20 students from 5-8 grades choose to participate in the Geography Club, with meetings and interactive lessons planned and conducted by moderator Sharon Cosentino. The Club meets year-round, from October through May. Mrs. Cosentino prepares a myriad of information for the members each week, and shares study guides and links with their parents so families can work together at home on expanding their geographic knowledge. This skill will bear much fruit for these students in the future, as our world “grows smaller” each day. It is apparent that global events are heavily influenced by the geography of a region, and the Geography Club is geared toward those students who want to develop a deeper understanding of how and why geography plays such an important role in world history and current events. Majid will be studying very hard during the coming month as he prepares for the state finals. Michael Lee, his principal; Erin Fuelscher, his teacher; and Mrs. Cosentino all know he will represent himself, his family, Saint Joseph of Cupertino School, and the Diocese of San Jose proudly.