Grayling Middle School seventh grader competes in Geography Bee state finals
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Grayling Middle School students have continued to put the community on the map for students who know the location of countries, places of historical interest, and natural wonders of the world.
Baden Essmaker, age 13, a seventh grader at the Grayling Middle School, competed in the state Geography Bee Finals held at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo on March 29.
All Grayling Middle School students compete in a schoolwide National Geographic Geography Bee. The competition, which is overseen by seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher Craig Hofman, begins the week after the students get back from winter break.
All students start the competition, and it is then whittled down to the top three sixth, seventh, and eighth students determined how successfully they answered the questions.
Essmaker and Aden Parker, also a seventh grader, were the two finalists in the competition this year.
“It was a good competition,” Hofman said. “They were in a playoff basically, so it was just a matter of the first one to get it wrong and the other to get it right, and that’s how he won.”
Baden, the son of Laura and Erik Essmaker, moved fto Grayling from Boulder, Colorado two years ago this July. As a fifth grader, Baden won the school geography bee for the Douglas Elementary School in Boulder, but did not qualify for the state’s competition.
Essmaker took a test for the state finals, and scored high enough to be among the students who particated.
“It was awesome. I was really surprised that I got into it,” he said. “It wasn’t as shocking as the first time, but overall it was nice.”
Essmaker holds a keen interest in World War II and the areas where significant battles were fought.
“I like looking at maps, specifically if has to do with World War II,” he said. “I love looking over those maps.”
Overall, recalling information from different areas of the world is strong within Essmaker’s skill set.
In general, I think geography is something that I can remember better,” he said.
Even one of the video games Essmaker regularly plays is based on geography.
“History, in general, is something I really enjoy,” he said.
There were 108 students from across the state who competed in the state finals in southwest Michigan.
Essmaker was close to making it into the playoff rounds at the finals.
“I was one question away from advancing in states,” he said.
Hofman said he was proud that Essmaker represented Grayling and the quality of education offered from the schools at the competition.
“That’s still pretty good,
Hofman said. “Among 108 kids, he was still one of the top kids to get in and he got a few questions right in the preliminary rounds. He did a nice job.”
Essmaker is considering a career in engineering and software engineering, but did not rule out studying more geography in his future educational endeavors.
“I would like to study more geography,” he said. “It’s definitely an interesting subject.”
In the last 10 years, Hofman said a Grayling Middle School student has qualified for the state finals after winning the schoolwide competition.
“It seems like it cycles,” Hofman said. “Every three years we get somebody in and it’s a big accomplishment.”