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April 05. 2014 12:20PM

Bedford student wins state geography bee


The 26th annual National Geographic Bee top three finalists at Keene State College on Friday, third place winner Joe Depalma of Daisy Bronson Middle School, first place winner Kevin Owens, a seventh grader at the Ross A. Lurgio Middle School and second place winner Daniel Taylor of Hampstead Academy. (MEGHAN PIERCE/Union Leader Correspondent)

KEENE – For the third year in a row, a Bedford student has won the New Hampshire National Geographic Bee.

Kevin Owens, a seventh grader at the Ross A. Lurgio Middle School, took first place at the 2014 New Hampshire state-level Geographic Bee at Keene State College Friday afternoon.

Daniel Taylor of Hampstead Academy took second place and Joe Depalma of Daisy Bronson Middle School took third place.

Owens won the bee out of 100 other middle school students from across the state who competed in the 26th annual National Geographic Bee Friday.

After winning, Owens said fellow Bedford resident and former two-time winner of the state geography bee, Neelam Sandhu, helped him study in preparation.

Sandhu is now a Bedford High School freshman. Last year she helped a U.S. team win gold at the 11th National Geographic World Championships, held in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Owens said it felt good to win first place, adding the competition was fierce.

"It was fun, but nerve-wracking," he said, adding he plans to start studying for the national bee that night. "I'm a little bit nervous, but it feels really honoring to be able to do that."

Owens has been competing in geography bees since the fifth grade. Representing a different school he competed in the state bee last year and narrowly missed being a top ten finalists.

His interest in geography started with a map, he said. "My dad works for a printing business and printed a map of the world and I just studied and studied it."

As the state winner Owens will receive $100 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to represent New Hampshire in the national finals of the Bee on May 22 at National Geographic Society headquarters.

The National Geographic Bee is organized by the National Geographic Society. This year's state sponsors are Google and Plum Creek.

The first prize in the national competition is a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and an all-expense paid to the Galápagos Islands.


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