brittney lohmiller | The Natchez Democrat Sixth-grade Cathedral Elementary student Fisher Iseminger, 11, won the school wide geography bee and will be competing in the statewide geography bee at Hinds Community College April 4. Fisher uses an application on her mother’s phone to study for the upcoming competition.
brittney lohmiller | The Natchez Democrat
Sixth-grade Cathedral Elementary student Fisher Iseminger, 11, won the school wide geography bee and will be competing in the statewide geography bee at Hinds Community College April 4. Fisher uses an application on her mother’s phone to study for the upcoming competition.

Bright Future: Cathedral student has the right APP-titude

Published 12:06am Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NATCHEZ — When Fisher Iseminger has any down time between dance team, softball or ballet, the Cathedral School sixth grader reaches for her mother’s phone to learn more about the world around her.

The countless hours spent using applications on the phone designed to make learning about geography fun paid off in January when Fisher won a school-wide geography bee.

The victory earned Fisher bragging rights around Cathedral, but also gave her a one-way ticket to compete in the state-wide National Geographic Bee April 4 at Hinds Community College.

Each year, thousands of schools in the country participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest, according to the company’s website, encourages teachers to include geography in their classrooms, spark student interest in the subject and increase public awareness about geography.

The 11-year-old will compete against nearly 60 students from participating schools around the state with a chance to move on to the national competition in Washington, D.C. in May.

Fisher is quick to admit she’s nervous about competing against students from across Mississippi.

“I was really nervous at the school competition because I was going up against eighth graders, but I’ll probably be more nervous because it’s going to be a lot of people I don’t know,” Fisher said. “I felt more comfortable with (my schoolmates), but I’m going to be the only one going from this school, so it’s a little nerve racking.”

In the school-wide competition, Fisher made it to the tiebreaker round against an eighth-grade student she thought would win the competition.

“I knew he made good grades and is smart, so I was really scared,” Fisher said. “But I got the question right and won.”

After winning the competition, Fisher had to take a 70-question test and complete an application to be accepted to the state-wide competition.

Last week, Cathedral teacher and geography bee coordinator Melissa Vaughan came into her social studies class with some good news.

“She called me out into the hallway, and I was just thinking, ‘I wonder what this is for,’” Fisher said. “She told me I had been accepted, and I was so excited.”

As the school’s bee coordinator, Vaughan said she instilled the significance of the competition to Fisher.

“I told her that getting this far is such a great accomplishment, and we’re all so proud of her,” Vaughan said. “She’s one of the most highly motivated students, and it’s just great to see her doing so well.”

Preparing for the school competition and the state competition, Fisher said, involve similar study methods.

“I have a geography book that has hundreds of questions to practice with, but I mainly use my mom’s phone to study,” Fisher said. “I have a bunch of apps on the phone, and those prepare you for a lot of the similar type questions you’ll be asked during the competition.”

Fisher said she tried to get in as much practice time as possible between juggling all her extracurricular events, which include dance, softball, basketball and ballet.

“I try to do at least 25 to 50 questions everyday, and that’s whenever I have some free time,” Fisher said. “After school or on the way home and to school, I’ll just ask to use the phone and take advantage of that time.”

Fisher’s ability to multitask and eagerness to learn more about the world doesn’t surprise her social studies teacher Kirk Graham.

“She always goes above and beyond in everything she does,” Graham said. “She’s like a sponge and just wants to absorb as much information as she possibly can.”

Fisher is the daughter of Barry and Paige Iseminger.