It was a nail-biting competition with nearly a dozen
tie-breaker questions. But Jackson Cooper secured the win with this
What city that is home to the renowned Ambrosian Library is also the principal financial center of Italy?
seventh-grader at Christ the King School in University City edged out
St. Louis Priory seventh-grader Evan Hugge with the correct answer —
Milan — to win the Missouri state-level competition of the National
Geographic Bee April 6 at Moberly Area Community College.
competed against 100 other students, winning an all-expenses paid trip
to National Geographic’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to represent
Missouri in the national competition May 20-23. As the state winner,
Jackson also won a $200 cash prize and a copy of “National Geographic
Visual Atlas of the World, 2nd Edition.”
Jackson has held an
enthusiasm for geography since he was about six years old. When his
family moved to a new house, he asked his parents for a map to put in
his new room.
Jeff and Cheri Jackson obliged, purchasing him U.S.
and world maps. By age seven, he had memorized every state and its
capital. He saw older students had competed in the geography bee at
school and knew he wanted to compete someday. By fifth grade, he
advanced to the state bee for the first time.
Jackson maintains a
keen memory when it comes to countries and other related trivia. Where
other students in his social studies class will take copious notes on a
recent lesson on the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark expedition,
Jackson instead has it filed away in his memory — frequently raising his
hand to accurately answer his teacher’s quizzing.
“I’ll remember a bunch of stuff about geography, but I can’t remember math homework,” he joked.
the national competition, Jackson is focusing his attention on studying
world geography. He also prepares by exploring random places on Google
maps and taking online geography quizzes.
Society’s interim president and CEO Mike Ulica said the competition,
which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, “rewards students’ curiosity
and inspires a lifelong passion for learning about our interconnected
world. The National Geographic Society furthers global understanding and
supports educators to empower their students to become the next
generation of engaged citizens and responsible stewards of the planet.”
has traveled to six countries: England, France, Switzerland, Costa
Rica, Canada and Mexico. “I want to go to Italy, because I love Italian
food,” he said. “I want to see the Vatican and Rome and everything.”
Vatican now has special meaning to Jackson. As it turns out, he
experienced another major accomplishment recently — two days after he
won the state competition, he entered the Catholic Church at Christ the
King on Divine Mercy Sunday.
His interest was piqued around the
second grade, when he saw his friends making their First Reconciliation
and First Communion. That feeling solidified as he became older.
first it was like I want to be like my friends, but then it turned into
I really wanted to be Catholic,” he said. “I like church — it’s always
been a welcome break from school.” He added that the pastor, Msgr. Mike
Turek, “has been really supportive of me.”
>> Watch national competition
The final round of the National Geographic Bee will be shown at www.natgeobee.org starting May 24. Journalist and humorist Mo Rocca will moderate the competition.
in fourth through eighth grades from 10,000 schools across the United
States have competed in the 2018 competition. Winners of school
competitions advance to the state level, and each state sends one
representative to the national competition.
The national champion
will receive a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the
National Geographic Society, which includes a lifetime subscription to
National Geographic magazine, and an all-expenses-paid Lindblad
expedition to the Galápagos Islands. Second- and third-place finishers
will receive $25,000 and $10,000 college scholarships, respectively.