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placeholder April 1, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
Berkeley eighth-grader knows his way around the globe

Kieran Halloran

Kieran Halloran, 13, an eighth-grader at the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley, is making his second consecutive trip to Sacramento to compete in the state portion of the National Geographic Bee on April 5. The winner goes on to represent California at the National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

How did you get interested in geography?

I always liked to look at maps and read maps when I was younger. That's how I knew a lot about geography. We have maps in our house, and a globe. Just from looking at that I learned about it.

How do you prepare for the Geography Bee?

I study, once it starts. My brother (Ryan, a third-grader) who also likes geography, asks me questions, or I'll ask him questions. He got a book of questions. For all the students who make it to the school round, (teacher) Señora (Patricia) Scheiner gives us study guidebooks. They're really helpful. They have a lot of hints and questions. I look through the questions, and look at the hints.

Anything online?

Last year they had a daily quiz and I took that whenever I could on the National Geographic website.

Who's eligible for the Bee?

It's fourth through eighth grade. Every class has a class competition before the school round.

What's the school completion like?

It's pretty big. In the parish hall. Third- through eighth-graders come to watch.

Are some study areas tougher than others?

A lot of times it's just memorizing large cities, or capitals or currencies. That might be a little hard because there are so many. I know more and more each year.

How do you advance to the state competition?

We have a test after you win the school, because there are so many schools in California. There are over 2,000 that participate, but only the top 100 go to Sacramento.

How do the school and state competitions differ?

The school competition's a little different; it's mostly about the United States. For the state competition, I have to focus on the rest of the world. They start off with easier questions about the United States, then it gets harder. You have to answer all the questions correctly to advance.

What got you l eliminated last year?

It was about a famine in Somalia.

Do you travel?

I actually haven't left the country, except I went to Mexico when I was younger. We are going to Europe this summer.

What are your favorite places you've traveled to in the US?

Lake Tahoe. My whole family skis and I snowboard. So does my uncle. It's really fun there in the winter, but also in the summer.

Where would you like to travel?

I'd like to visit the Great Wall of China. Maybe India, because my mom's from India. We might go to Ireland because my dad has cousins who live there.

Any rivers or mountain ranges you'd like to see?

We're going to go through the Alps in a train this summer. That will be interesting to see castles.

When you're not studying geography, what do you like to do?

I play soccer in the spring and fall, and snowboarding. Boy Scouts.

At 13, what would you like to be?

I'm not sure. I'll see.

Advice to other Geo Bee hopefuls?

Always be aware of anything you learn traveling or watching TV, or anything, and remember it.

Last words from Principal Kenneth Willers:

It's an honor to have our school represented. We want you to know we're honored you're representing us.

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