Lasal Mapitigama ’21, winner of the 2018 GeograBee, walked away with $100 last Sunday. For 28 years, the annual GeograBee competition has allowed students to test their geography knowledge against their peers. “It rooted from the bee that National Geographic started in 1989. The goal was to improve geography literacy among young people. Here at [Andover], it was pioneered here by a former alumni Neil Fry [’99],” said Jose Peralta, Instructor in Biology, in his introduction to the event.
The event was organized by Peralta and staffed by Victor Leos, Fellow in Community Engagement, and Diamond Gray, Teaching Fellow in Art.
Peralta wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “GeograBee is a vehicle for us to keep geographic knowledge of people and places in our students’ minds.”
This year, 40 students competed for the grand prize. The event, hosted by Evelyn Wu ’18, followed a quiz-bowl-style competition in which competitors buzzed in to answer questions.
Unlike in the past, this year’s GeograBee had no dorm contests or cluster finals. Instead, anyone who wanted to participate could register for the GeograBee online.
Audience member Valerie Tang ’20 said, “It was intriguing to see that people were actually really interested in geography, and I didn’t really know there were so many things to ask about geography.”
Audience member Susan Esty, Director of Wellness Education, said, “One thing I learned is how fast you have to think — you have to answer even before the question is finished.”
In the competition, players competed in three preliminary rounds. From there, only three contestants progressed into the finals. Mapitigama, along with Isaac Newell ’18, who won second place, and Annika Sparrell ’18, who won third place, competed to earn points by answering questions correctly.
“I think I got a little cocky coming from the preliminary rounds,
and I’d done fairly well, so I was extremely aggressive. When I went into the finals and I guessed on the first three or so, I started off with negative ten points,” said Mapitigama.
Mapitigama continued, “I just kept guessing, so I had to tone it down and wait a little bit, and that helped me come back from behind.”
In addition to prize money, Mapitigama also won a surprise munch for his dorm, Rockwell House. In addition, Mapitigama’s name will be added to plaques outside of the Dean of Students and Community and Multicultural Development offices.
“It felt good getting to win the bee. The cash was nice, but I also got something for my dorm as well. It feels really good getting to win something not only for myself but for my peers,” said Mapitigama.