Fifth grader wins geography bee |

Fifth grader wins geography bee

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Nick Shepack knows his place in the world.

The Zephyr Cove Elementary School fifth-grader won his school’s Geography Bee contest and took a test that may send him to Las Vegas.

The students with the top 100 scores on the State of Nevada Geography Bee exam will be sent to Las Vegas for a state contest. The winner goes to Washington, D.C.

Nick, 10, hopes he will go to Vegas. He said he would wear a “geography shirt” for the event.

“I think Las Vegas would be cooler (than Washington, D.C.) because they have the arcades and the roller coaster on top of the casino,” he said.

Even though Nick is well aware of the distractions in Las Vegas, he said he reads a geography book every day to train his brain for the heat he will face against other land-locating students.

Fifteen fourth- and fifth-graders competed in Zephyr Cove Elementary’s Geography Bee in January.

The contest usually lasts 10 rounds, but Nick found a geography nemesis in fellow fifth-grader Jake Manoukian.

In triple overtime, Nick answered correctly that the Gulf of Suez flows into the Red Sea.

The next day he spent an hour in the principal’s office taking the state geography test. It was multiple choice.

“It was a really hard test,” he said. “Some of the questions I didn’t know linked to geography.”

Nick said he learned geography from his fourth-grade teacher Doug Ross.

Ross described Nick as an excellent cartographer — a map drawer — and said the 10-year-old student helped invent quizzes.

“Once you get a student who has a high interest in something it’s hard for them not to be enthused,” Ross said. “I’m glad he was able to do so well even against the upper-graders at our school.”

Susan Shepack said her son helps her with directions. Once, in a corn maze, she found herself lost but Nick held the map and knew his location the entire time, she said.

Kenya is Nick’s favorite spot on the globe and the place he would most like to visit one day. He talked about the Masai Tribe in Kenya which has a knack for doing well in distance running.

“They win the Olympics a lot in running because they’ve lived on land for awhile,” Nick said.

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