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May 2018 Newsletter: Student Spotlight—Michael Duncan and Aaliyah Williams

Middle School 7th Grader Michael Duncan Takes 3rd at the State Geo Bee

Congratulations to Middle School seventh-grade student Michael Duncan on his third place finish at the Ohio National Geographic Bee on April 6. Last year, Michael finished 11th in the state as as Woodbury sixth grader. “ "I have rarely seen a school Geography Bee champion work as hard as Michael did to prepare for the bee. He really took the challenge seriously, and wanted to do everything he could to win the bee,” said Middle School Geography Bee advisor Mike Sears. “His mother and father were also incredibly supportive on his journey. I'm excited to work with Michael again next year, and see if he can win the bee as an 8th grader.” 

Michael’s journey to the state final began earlier this year when he took a 35-question written test in January. From there, he advanced to the Grade 7 Geography Bee in February, then to the Middle School Geography Bee, which he won, answering 56 questions in a row correctly. Michael took an online 70-question National Geographic Bee Test to determine whether he would advance to the state final—state qualifiers had to place in the top 100. He proceeded error-free through the six preliminary rounds at the Ohio National Geographic Bee, held at The Ohio State University, and in the elimination round. Among the ten finalists, Michael then placed third. 

Michael joins a string of Geography Bee champions from the Middle School: in 2003, Christ Butler finished first at the state bee 7th at the National Bee; in 2008, Spencer Seballos finished second; in 2011, Narayan Sundararajan won the state bee; in 2012, Vishnu Kasturi finished seventh; and in 2013, Andrew Mohor finished second.

Sophomore Aaliyah Williams Selected for 2018 TASS program at University of Michigan

Congratulations to sophomore Aaliyah Williams, who was selected to participate in the 2018 Telluride Association Sophomore Seminar (TASS) at the University of Michigan. The highly selective six-week program accepts only 56 students, who participate in one of four seminars held at either Cornell University of the University of Michigan. Aaliyah will participate in the seminar, The Culture of Politics of Race and Media and Literature. “The topics of these seminars are right up my alley,” says Aaliyah. “I love talking about tough topics and positive racial relations are a real passion of mine. Through TASS, I hope to learn what it really means to be an activist in this day and age, and I’m incredibly excited to meet other students with the same passions as mine.”

The TASS seminar explores narrative representations of marginalized groups in mass media and literature, considering questions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, while focusing on themes of identity, cultural politics, and social justice. The program’s learning goals include developing a vocabulary for discussing racial politics and for addressing racism and prejudice; an understanding of the ways in which media and literature influence cultural and racial politics; a study of the lived experiences of members of marginalized groups and of narratives around citizenship and identity; and an understanding of the roles that the form and style of a text play in transmitting and questioning ideas and ideologies.

Aaliyah will attend the program from June 24-August 4.

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