Cathedral student competes in geography bee

Published 1:54 am Thursday, April 10, 2008

NATCHEZ — For a 9-year-old, Payton Ryan is a worldly kid.

With an affinity for geography and a family that’s traveled the majority of the states, Ryan was practically the obvious choice to represent Cathedral School in the National Geographic Bee’s geography bee.

And last Friday, Ryan was the Natchez representative in the state level competition of the geography bee.

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But Ryan was not simply picked to represent Cathedral in the bee, he won his spot in the competition.

Ellen Siskind a spokesperson for the National Geographic Bee said Cathedral had to sign up to participate in the contest and Ryan entered the state level competition through a process of elimination.

“He represents one of the top 100 in the state,” she said. “It’s an accomplishment.”

After competing among classmates Ryan successfully completed a 70 question written exam to advance to the next level of the contest.

For Ryan, who did not participate past the state level, the experience was a positive one.

“When I got the letter in the mail me and my mom were like ‘Oh Yes!’” he said of receiving his notification to participate in the mail. “It was great,” he said.

Ryan said participating in the competition did make him a bit nervous and could only recall a question dealing with precipitation in Nebraska as a contributing factor to crop growth as one of the questions he had to answer.

“But it was fun,” he said.

Ryan was also the youngest student in the geography bee.

Ryan said geography is his favorite subject because it provides unique insights into other parts of the world.

“It’s interesting stuff,” he said.

But Ryan’s teacher, Stephanie Anderson, said she isn’t at all surprised by Ryan’s attraction to geography.

Anderson said Ryan’s family almost constantly makes cross-country trips.

“He gets a lot of exposure to all kinds of things when they travel,” she said. “He knows things most fourth-graders don’t know.”

While Ryan’s mother, Kelli, said the trips were not deliberately planned to be educational Anderson said she’s certain they have had an impact on Ryan.

In addition to having traveled most of the country at a young age Anderson said Ryan has keen analytical skills that help him to excel in both geography and geometry.

“Even if he’s not sure of where a place is, he can study the way the name sounds and make a pretty good decision,” she said.

Ryan said one of his favorite trips recently took his family on a journey across much of North America when they drove to Alaska in an RV.

Ryan’s mother said she is extremely proud of her son’s recent accomplishment.

“He learns so much from just going out and doing things,” she said.