Montpelier Eighth Grader Headed To State Finals For Geography Bee

A Montpelier middle school student is among 55 youth who will be in Columbus March 31 to compete for the state National Geographic Geography Bee.

Thirteen-year-old Brayden JoHantgen won the county championship recently after taking top honors in his classroom and school. The eighth-grader is now preparing for the state finals by taking daily 10-question quizzes on the National Geographic’s web page.

The early rounds involved students answering questions about oceans, countries, continents, rivers and cities, that were read aloud. He felt confident at the class and school levels.

It was the county level competition that gave him pause. That one was done on a computer and he found the questions “weirdly worded.”

The computer test was harder in his opinion. Questions dealt with exports from specific nations, he said.

But he still won the crown and the right to move on.

The information he has learned and faces in the tests have a purpose, Brayden said.

“I can see how it can be helpful,” Brayden said.

During this process he says he has enjoyed learning about the different sports teams of various countries and their exports and imports. He likes to learn what each nation produces, he said.

Both his parents and and school officials have been excited and supportive, Brayden said.

“They (parents) really want me to win,” Brayden said. And his classmates have been encouraging as well, he said.

When not studying up on geography, Brayden likes science and History at school. Of those two subjects, he gets into astronomy and U.S. History the most.

In his free time he likes to read, play video games and get outside when the weather is decent. Bradyen said he enjoys baseball, basketball and golf.

The latest books he has read include “I Had to Stay Alive,” one man’s account of a South American rugby team’s survival after their plane crashed in the Andes. Another was about Thomas Jefferson and his battles with Tripoli.

While it may look as if Brayden sailed through his competition, he said he came close to losing the school Bee. He was up against the defending champion and this was Brayden’s first time in the finals.

“I thought I was going to lose,” Brayden said.

The match came down to one question about a reef. The students had to identify state it was in and two others about it. Brayden could only name the state (Hawaii), but his opponent failed to answer any correctly.

James Pruitt may be reached at

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