COLUMBIA — Isaac Pasley, a 14-year-old 8th grader at West Junior High School, became a top 10 finalist in the 2008 National Geographic Bee after he beat out 45 other state-level winners in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Isaac will compete today for the top prize of a $25,000 college scholarship; he won $500 for making it to the finalist level.
Sandra Logan, principal of West Junior High School, is not surprised by Isaac’s success.
“If anyone could win the National Geographic Bee, it would be Isaac,” Logan said. “I truly believe he will win.”
After missing just one question on Tuesday, Isaac is also upbeat about his chances of winning.
“I am feeling pretty confident, but that Benjamin Geyer guy has been in the competition before,” Isaac said.
Geyer, a student at the British School of Washington, has represented Washington, D.C., in the National Geographic Bee every year since 2005.
Though Isaac may be new to the competition, he has been studying geography for quite some time. His mother, Karen Pasley, said Isaac has always looked at every atlas and map that came his way. She went on to describe her son’s steady routine of reviewing physical geography terms, taking practice quizzes available on the National Geographic Web site and trying to focus on five to 10 countries per day. He usually spends an hour or less per day reviewing.
Isaac said he has not given much thought to which college he might like to attend, even with all of the potential scholarship money within his grasp. Second prize winners receive a $15,000 scholarship, and third prize winners receive a $10,000 scholarship. As for the $500 he has already earned, Isaac excitedly speculated about a family trip to Europe.
The family accompanied Isaac on this trip to Washington, D.C., as did one of his teachers, Kristin Lierheimer. Plenty of people in Columbia are supporting him as well.
“He’s an incredible kid,” said Elizabeth Jordheim, a neighbor of the Pasley’s for five years. “Besides being brilliant, he’s one of the most loving, considerate young men I’ve ever met. I’ve always told his parents that he has the social skills I wish most adults had. He can come to any party and converse with anybody about any topic and have a good time doing it.”
The final round of the National Geographic Bee will be moderated by “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek and will be broadcast nationally at 4 p.m. Wednesday on the National Geographic Channel. It will air again at 2 p.m. Thursday on Kansas City Public Television.