Ender Weimer

Schoenbar Middle School seventh grader Ender Weimer holds a plaque that he earned by winning the schoolwide geography bee earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Chad Frey

Around 30 Schoenbar Middle School students tackled tough questions about history and geography during a schoolwide geography bee held this past week, with one seventh grade student taking the final title.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Schoenbar participated yearly in the geography bee competition presented by National Geographic.

Schoenbar filmmaking and social studies teacher Chad Frey told the Daily News on Wednesday that social studies teachers at the school worked together to host their own bee last year, when the National Geographic bee was put on pause due to COVID-19.  The group did the same thing this year after receiving an announcement that the National Geographic program would no longer continue.

"And so the social studies department — Alex Pennino, Joe Mainardi, and myself — we got together and we kind of discussed if we still wanted to do it," Frey recalled. "And we agreed that we wanted to do it. And it kind of freed up a bunch of things. This is our bee, we can pretty much do what we want now."

Frey continued, "And so we kind of decided how the format we wanted, what kind of questions we wanted to ask, and then from there we went on with a date that we picked. So it was definitely just the Schoenbar Middle School geography bee."

The bee was open to all Schoenbar students, although Frey noted that there were several more seventh graders who participated than eighth graders. Sign-up sheets were made available for students, and incentives like extra credit were offered to students.

"And so what we try to do is, we whittle it down to five seventh graders and five eighth graders. And then that's going to be kind of the championship round," he explained.

This year, the championship title went to seventh grader Ender Weimer, after a tense round of competition with seventh grader Noah Robbins.  

"It was multiple, multiple rounds, multiple kinds of questions — because they tied. One would get it right, the other would get it right, one would get it wrong, the other one would get it wrong," he commented.

After tie-breaking rounds, Weimer earned the championship plaque.

Teacher Alex Pennino wrote to the Daily News via email on Wednesday that more than 230 questions were included in the geography bee from start to finish, and Weimer won over Robbins by answering two questions correctly in the final round.

"Some of the questions in the final round were — In the 14th Century the Bubonic Plague first arrived in Western Europe at the port city of Messina on this Italian Island?  (Sicily)," Pennino wrote. "What Eastern European Capital's name comes from the combination of two towns that are bisected by the Danube River? (Budapest).  The Galapagos Islands are a territory of this South American Country? (Ecuador)."