The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 8, 2013

North Ridge student advances to National History Bee finals

BY CAROL ROEHM
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Playing a game of Trivia Pursuit with North Ridge Middle School seventh-grader Peyton Blodgett could prove to be frustrating.

“When you play Trivia Pursuit with him, you might as well forget it,” said Peyton’s mom, Tonya Salomon.

Peyton was one of five North Ridge MATS (Motivating Academically Talented Students) students who participated in the National History Bee regional finals April 1 in Chicago, where he qualified to advance to June’s national championship 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.

Peyton and the other four North Ridge students — eighth-graders Kendall Campbell and Guin Zillman and sixth-grade twin brothers Suvan and Sourin Paturi — have been studying for the history competition since August in math teacher Lori Woods’ extracurricular program she started this school year.

“There were two or three tests they had to take online,” Salomon said. “She (Woods) does an excellent job with the kids.”

After completing an online regional qualifying exam, 120 of the highest scorers in each of the 35 regions across the U.S. attend and compete at the regional finals that are 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 on April 1 at OA Thorp Scholastic Academy in Chicago. Woods accompanied the students to Chicago.

The regional finals in Chicago consisted of three preliminary rounds of head-to-head buzzer competition, followed by a final championship round.

“Chicago is the hardest regional competition,” Woods said. “It’s not just students from Illinois. There are students from Wisconsin and Indiana there, too.

“We were the only school to have five students in the competition,” Woods added.

“They wanted to try this,” she said of her students’ interest in the History Bee. “They had a monstrously large study guide.”

In addition, the students did not know the questions that would be asked ahead of time.

“Some of these questions were very complicated,” said Woods, who holds bachelor and master’s degrees in history. “It was a lot like ‘Jeopardy.’ A very high level of knowledge was needed.”

Peyton said a Russian history question had him stumped momentarily during the competition.

“Russian history is always tough,” the 13-year-old said.

Peyton praised the knowledge of his fellow North Ridge team members and the efforts of Woods, the school sponsor.

“They were all really good,” he said. “She’s a great coach, and we practiced (answering questions) with a buzzer over spring break.”

Peyton said he got “a cool medal” at the end of the competition.

Peyton and the top 10 students from each of the regional finals across the U.S. will advance to the National Championship on June 1 in Atlanta.

Salomon said she initially wondered how well Peyton would do competing against older students, but wasn’t surprised when he placed sixth among the 120 students.

“He’s in Scholastic Bowl and a straight-A student. He loves ‘Jeopardy,’” she said.

“He’s so dedicated, and he loves school and he loves to study,” Salomon said. “He loves it so much; it’s not like studying to him.

“We’re so proud of him. He knocked it out of the park,” she added.