Cécile Girard, a seventh grader at Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School in Lake Charles, represented Louisiana at the 25th annual National Geographic Bee last week in Washington, D.C.
She was one of 54 students remaining in the nationwide competition, dwindled down from more than five million participants. Though she did not make the top 10, she watched the finalists compete in the final round, moderated by Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek. The competition aired last Thursday on the National Geographic Channel.
“Compared to some of the other kids there I didn’t do quite as well as I’d hoped, but I’m still happy I was able to get there,” Girard said Sunday.
Of the 54, only six were girls. “It felt good to be in the small minority,” she said.
In preparation for the finals, she studied for an hour each night with her father, Dr. Philippe Girard, Associate Professor and Department Head of History at McNeese State University. The two would study an atlas and take online quizzes.
She first competed and won the regional level and went on to take state.
“When she won the regional bee it was quite surprising because I did not know she had such a vast knowledge of geography,” he said. “The national level was quite impressive. I’m a university professor, pretty well traveled and educated, and I don’t think I could have answered 20 percent of the questions.”
He said it was an amazing experience he shared with his daughter, and he was proud of her throughout all of it.
She said it was a lot of fun, and she hopes to qualify again next year.
The Bee was won by Sathwik Karnik, a 12-year-old from Massachusetts.