Barral ’14 Claims GeograBee Championship with Twice the Points of Second Place Competitor

Jack Barral ’14 swept the school-wide GeograBee competition on Tuesday, winning two- times as many points as his closest competitors. Barral, who won 36 of the possible 90 points, broke a lead early in the competition. Mick Wopinski ’11 won second place with 18 points, while Daniel Aronov came in third with 12 points. The other GeograBee finalists included Charlie Cockburn ’11, Junius Williams ’14 and Nick Tonckens ’12. Barral said, “It was a huge shock to be the GeograBee champion. I was really excited, though I did not expect to win the competition [beforehand].” Each participant qualified for the school-wide GeograBee finals after winning their cluster final or day student competition. The GeograBee, held in Upper Left, drew a student and faculty crowd. Peter Drench, Instructor and Chair of History and Social Science, emceed the GeograBee, and Susanne Torabi, International Student Coordinator, organized the event this year. Torabi said, “A few years ago, a Junior day student won the GeograBee and competed in the final rounds his following three years at Phillips Academy. I know that Jack will be back again next year.” Barral answered several questions before Drench finished asking them. Barral had previously competed in a few geography competitions when he was in middle school, but had never made it to the final rounds. He said that he did not prepare at all for this competition. Wopinski said, “I had heard that Jack was a really strong candidate, but I did not realize that he was that [knowledgeable] until the competition had started. He truly deserved his win.” To win the GeograBee, students must attempt to get the most questions correct out of the thirty questions asked. Contestants receive three points for each correct answer and one point for an incorrect answer, with a maximum of ninety points possible. During the competition, contestants pressed buzzers to answer questions and then responded to each one orally. Barral said, “I both liked and disliked the GeograBee format and the buzzer- system. It was really exciting because there seemed to have been a lot more action that there would have been if students were simply scribbling down answers. You had to hit the button as quickly as possible in order to be able to answer the question.” “On the other hand, it was nerve-racking to answer the questions orally, and I never really knew where I stood in the competition,” he continued. Aranov said, “It was really frustrating to have to ring in on the buzzer because it simply tested reflexes and how quickly you could determine the question, rather than necessarily your knowledge of the question.” Barral said that there was a wide range of questions. “Some of them were as easy as those in the preliminary dorm competitions, while others were very difficult,” said Barral. Torabi said that she felt worried after the cluster finals that the questions would be too difficult for the contestants. “It turned out to be a perfect mix of questions and the students were answering them quickly and accurately,” said Torabi. None of the contestants could answer the final question, “What common landform is associated with orographic precipitation?” Barral said that he thought the most challenging question appeared in the practice round, that asked, “What cardinal direction is Washington, Pennsylvania from Pittsburgh?” The answer was South-West. Every dorm but one participated in a preliminary round, where dorm representatives qualified to participate in the cluster competition. Both the dorms that had 100% participation and 50% of the first round questions correct as well as the cluster with the highest participation will be rewarded with a special pizza munch. This year, all of the dorms that participated earned a pizza munch. West Quad South had the highest participation rate. Nels Frye ’99 started the GeograBee in 1997 with the help of the former International Students Coordinator. Torabi said that the GeograBee has continued to grow and attract participants. “The GeograBee is a yearly reminder for me that students continue to think globally and will continue to educate themselves about global issues, locations, peoples, and cultures,” said Torabi.