Instead of heading to Oregon, the Lakeshore Middle School eighth-grader is going to Kalamazoo to compete in the Michigan National Geographic State Bee on April 6.
Vanderkolk, 14, recently qualified for the competition after he won his school’s Geography Bee and took a test.
Vanderkolk said he started playing with maps as a small child, which turned into him looking at maps to see if he could find new places.
Vanderkolk said he didn’t study anything special for the geography tests — it’s just something that he’s interested in, or “being able to see something on the news and have a general idea where it’s happening,” he said.
Rachelle Howe, Lakeshore Middle School teacher and the school’s Geography Bee coordinator, said Vanderkolk earned 100 percent on the preliminary test to participate in the school’s Geography Bee. When he qualified for the state level, Howe said she wasn’t surprised.
Vanderkolk said the state preliminary test asked a question such as, “Which countries border the Nile River?”
Vanderkolk said he doesn’t plan on doing any special studying to prepare for the state competition. Although he’s a little nervous, he also said he’s looking forward to what the next level brings.
State champions can attended the National Geographic Been in Washington, D.C., in May.
In previous years, Lakeshore Middle School’s Matt Dickinson and Sammy Ritter also competed at the Michigan National Geographic State Bee.