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Obasahan competes in bee

Justice Obasohan can rattle off state capitals, rivers, oceans, mountain ranges and countries like most sixth-graders can their favorite sports teams. While this feat might leave some with their jaw hanging to the ground, it is really simple, he said.

“You have to use your memory,” Obasohan said.

Obasohan qualified to compete at the state level of the 2009 National Geographic Bee at Samford University earlier this month. While the School of Discovery student did not make it past the preliminary rounds, he said the experience, while nerve-wracking, was like nothing else.

“It was fascinating,” he said.

Obasohan said there is a little strategy involved. It is all about patience, he said.

“You have to think about the question before you spit out the wrong answer and can’t take it back,” Obasohan said.

Throughout the school year, Obasohan participated with between 14 and 30 other students in a geography study group at WCCS supervised by Dr. Ellen Carter. Carter started out teaching them state capitals from the west coast toward the east. Then, they moved to Africa, which has the most countries out of the seven continents.

“We get rid of the hardest first,” Carter said.

Beginning last June, the students attended the study group on Sunday and Tuesday. Carter said many volunteers from around the community, including the Kiwanis Club, helped the children study. Without the volunteers, Carter said the program would not have succeeded in its first year.

“This community came together on this project,” Carter said. “We have kids at state our first year. That’s pretty special.”

About 100 fourth to eighth-grade students from across the state participate in the National Geographic Bee. Obasohan, who will enter the seventh grade next year, will have a couple more tries to reach the national level.

To his parents, it does not matter how far he goes in next year’s competition. His mother, Uyiosa, said they are happy to see him learn how to work hard toward a goal and accomplish it.

“As a family, we were glad that he made it,” she said. “They have really worked so hard.”