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Sixth-Grader Sweeps Geography Bee

Nationals Bound

Partha Narasimhan has always had a good sense of direction. And that sense of direction paid off at a geography bee last month.

The sixth-grader at Mercer Middle School in Aldie, placed first in the 2007 Virginia Geography Bee Friday, March 30, at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

Partha said he studied many different topics: geography, history and culture with his mother, Sanghmitra Narasimhan, and other family members, in preparation for the state bee. He also studied with social studies teacher, Pamela Dolgin.

Dolgin described Partha as a "highly motivated student."

"Even as young as he is, I would call him a life-long learner," she said. "He seems to have a natural desire to learn that is from deep inside, even at the ripe, old age of 12."

Partha attributes his win to "quite a bit of luck," he said, but his stats tell a different story. He placed third at the state-level bee last year as a fifth-grader at Hutchinson Farm Elementary School.

"I’m just plain good at memorizing," he said.

PARTHA WILL represent Virginia at the national finals May 22 and May 23, at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C. He is eligible for a $25,000 scholarship and a round trip ticket.

"I’d like to go to Rome or St. Petersburg," Partha said.

The sixth-grader said he is considering going to Oxford University, but hasn’t settle on one school yet, because he has a lot of time.

For now, he is busy preparing for the national bee in the same manner he did for the state competition, going over maps and books with his mother and other family members, he said.

"And he’s getting quizzed by me," Dolgin said.

He will compete against 55 students from across the country in grades five through eight. The majority of students are in the seventh and eighth grade.

STUDENTS FROM 10 Loudoun County Public Schools, including Sterling, Belmont Ridge, River Bend, Blue Ridge and Smart’s Mill middle schools and Newton-Lee and Potowmack elementary schools, participated in the state bee.

Tatiana Lozano, a seventh-grader at J. Lupton Simpson Middle School, placed third in the state bee, and Yohan Sumathipala, a seventh-grader at Farmwell Station Middle School finished in the top 10.

The participants won their school-level geography bee and took a test to qualify for the Virginia Geography Bee. The National Geographic Society invited the students with the top-100 scores to compete at a state-level competition, held in each of the 50 states and in five U.S. territories.