The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

June 14, 2013

Students do well in history competition


DANVILLE — Three North Ridge Middle School students proved they know quite a lot about history.

Eighth-grader Guin Zillman, seventh-grader Peyton Blodgett and sixth-grader Sourin Paturi competed against more than 400 sixth- through ninth-graders from across the country in the National History Bee Championship held June 1 in Atlanta.

The National History Bee is an individual academic competition for elementary and middle school students that tests the knowledge of a wide range of historical topics.

“They finished up in the top 50 percent, which is higher than I expected for our first time out,” said math teacher Lori Woods, who is sponsor of the extracurricular program.

All three students are North Ridge MATS (Motivating Academically Talented Students) students.

“It was well-organized, but it was crazy. It was a quicker tempo than we expected,” she said of the national competition. “It was a great experience for them, though. They met kids from Alaska and California.”

The national competition consisted of eight preliminary rounds — four rounds in the morning and four rounds in the afternoon.

“Every kid had to play six of the eight rounds, and there were 30 questions in each round,” Woods said.

“It was intense — everybody was on the buzzer — but it was an amazing experience.”

Guin agreed. “They would say two words of a question and people would start hitting the button.”

Still, the overeager contestants didn’t tarnish Guin’s experience.

“It was really fun,” the eighth-grader said. “It was a good experience.”

Peyton noted, “It was much tougher than regionals, but it was still fun.”

He, too, agreed with Guin that the premature buzzer-hitting was frustrating, but “I tried not to let that intimidate me.”

Peyton said he was continuing to study world history, ancient history and geography over the summer so he’s better prepared for next year’s history bee competitions.

Something that the North Ridge team didn’t realize until they arrived in Atlanta was that ninth-graders were allowed to compete in the national competition, which wasn’t the case at the Chicago regional finals that the North Ridge group attended on April 1.

“Sourin, a sixth-grader, competed against a lot of eighth- and ninth-graders and did a nice job,” Woods said.

Sourin said he thought the national competition “was pretty hard.”

“Most of the people were hard to beat,” he said. “Most of the people who got in the finals were in eighth grade.”

Sourin, however, said he thought the challenging competition helped him in other ways.

“I’m pretty ready for seventh grade now,” he said.

Unlike the regional competition, in which the North Ridge students had to learn a 45-page study guide, the national competition had a 100-page study guide.

Woods said the students remained enthusiastic despite the hard work and are eager to try competing in next year’s history bee events.

“They’re excited to try it again, and we know what to expect now,” she said.

Back in August, Peyton, Guin and Sourin, as well as two other North Ridge students — eighth-grader Kendall Campbell and Sourin’s twin brother, Suvan Paturi — began studying for the history competition.

After completing an online regional qualifying exam, 120 of the highest scorers in each of 35 regions across the U.S. then competed at the regional finals that were organized and staffed by the National History Bee.

The North Ridge students were among the top students from their region to participate in the regional finals held April 1 at OA Thorp Scholastic Academy in Chicago.

Peyton placed sixth overall at the Chicago regional finals, which qualified him to advance to the national championship in Atlanta, while Guin and Sourin qualified for the national competition based on their score on an online regional history exam and their participation in the Chicago regional finals competition.