Westminster geography bee winner has eye on next year's competitions


April 08, 1996|By Lois Szymanski | Lois Szymanski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

DO YOU KNOW what level of the atmosphere holds all life? Eleven-year-old Matthew Van Fossen knows the answer: troposphere. He answered this and many more geography questions in a recent test at William Winchester Elementary School in Westminster.

Matthew speaks with maturity, his brown eyes sincere behind wire-framed glasses. He said he likes "social studies and geography." It was that interest that helped Matthew become the winner of the National Geographic Geography Bee at his school.

Matthew is the son of Karen and Bryan Van Fossen of Westminster. He has a 10-year-old sister, Mallory. "I was really excited when I found out that my brother was going to compete on the state level," Mallory said, proud and excited over her brother's accomplishments.

Matthew said the entire fifth grade at his school took part in the geography bee. "We had questions in social studies [class] for several days," he said. Then, the top 10 finalists at the school took a written test and took part in an oral geography bee in the auditorium.

Scores from the finalists' written tests determine whether a school's winner may participate on the state level. Matthew is the first student from William Winchester to compete on the state level. This is the eighth year Maryland held a state final in the National Geographic Geography Bee.

On March 29, Matthew was one of 100 state finalists who met at Montgomery College in Rockville to compete in the state competition, sponsored by National Geographic and Chrysler Corp. Although Matthew did not win, he said he felt it was an honor to have participated.

"It was thrilling," he said, "kind of exciting. I was nervous at first, then it got better. I've never done anything like that before."

At the state finals, the top fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students competed on the same level. Five were from Carroll County, including Brad Dyjak of Carrolltowne Elementary, Katie Bray of Winfield Elementary, Matthew Coyle of Mount Airy Middle School and Sean Davis of West Middle School.

Matthew returned home with a hunter green National Geographic Geography Bee T-shirt, a subscription to National Geographic's magazine, a certificate and a newfound determination. "I want to go back again," he said with conviction. "I want to try again next year."

Mrs. Van Fossen said that many of the participants had competed on the state level the year before.

"He's always been interested in this kind of thing," Mrs. Van Fossen said of her son. "He asked for a globe when he was in preschool and he still has it."

"I did well in the physical geography parts," Matthew said with a smile. "The questions about things in the world today, and in the news were the hard ones."

Listening to Matthew speak and hearing the determination in his voice leaves me with no doubt. This young man will be learning about geographic concerns in the news and the world today, and is looking ahead to next year and another opportunity to compete in the National Geographic Geography Bee.

Easter ham raffle

Silver Run/Union Mills Lions Club recently held its annual Easter ham raffle. During the past months, 400 tickets were sold, offering purchasers five chances to win a Hahn ham for Easter dinner. The winners of this year's hams are: Chad Messinger of Littlestown, Pa.; Bill Blessing of Westminster; Laura Timmons of Westminster; E. A. Sanders of Littlestown, Pa.; and Kim Stuffle of Union Mills.

Silver Run/Union Mills Lions Club wishes to thank Munches Cafe and Westminster Bank & Trust (the Union Mills and Weis Market branches) for helping them sell tickets, and the community for its support.

In keeping with the tradition of this Lions Club, all money made from the raffle will go toward charitable projects within the community.

Museum offers vendor spaces

Carroll County Farm Museum has spaces available for its Antique and Collectible Craft Show to be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 2 on museum grounds. Vendors should call the museum at 848-7775 today to reserve a space. Spaces will measure 18 feet by 24 feet and cost $25.

During June, special displays in the museum house will include collectible pitchers, and antique and collectible teddy bears and bunnies from the early 1900s.

Lois Szymanski's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 4/08/96

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