What gave National Geography Bee winner Calvin McCarter, 10, the edge in the competition last week in Washington?
Proud papa Joseph Parnell McCarter says it was his son’s “reformed Christian” home-school curriculum and Christian beliefs.
Though McCarter presented that opinion in every interview he has done with national and local media since the bee, not one news outlet permitted him to make that point in print or broadcasts.
Indeed, young McCarter wasn’t the only home-schooler who made it to the finals.
Of 55 students participating in the final round of the bee, 12 were home-schooled. It is estimated that 5 million students participated in the primary stages of the contest. A written test is administered locally until the numbers dwindle to the top 100 students of each state and territory. After the verbal state competitions, 55 competitors from across the nation travel to Washington for the final showdown. When the number of contestants is reduced to 10 for the last round, the bee is broadcast over public television stations and the National Geographic Channel.
McCarter says he thought it significant that four of the 10 final competitors were home-schooled. Most of them were of a Christian faith, he says. When three more students dropped from the 10 finalists, all four home-schoolers were still in the run. Both the first- and third-place winners of the contest were home-schooled.
Calvin’s been on TV shows such as NBC’s “Today” and the CBS “Early Show” describing his road to victory, but his father says most of his son’s media coverage didn’t include Calvin’s real success story.
“We are very firmly of the opinion that the reason he won is really to give us the opportunity to give God the glory,” McCarter told WND.
Contacting WND because he thought it important that the statistics of home-schoolers and Christians in the bee not go unnoticed, Mr. McCarter says WND will include information that other news media tend to “filter out.”
“Especially from the standpoint of Christians, that is a very pertinent issue,” he said.
McCarter says he and his sons read WND almost every day because WND covers news “from a perspective that is different from the mainstream.” They also read Christian-based magazines such as World and Focus on the Family. The Drudge Report and local papers are also helpful news sources he says.
The National Geographic Society sponsors the geography bee, bringing home, public and private school students grades four through eight to compete in the competition’s final round. “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek monitors the final competition, which presents the winner with $25,000 in scholarship money for college. Calvin says he was surprised he won.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I was thankful to God, and I was amazed and happy that I would be winning $25,000.”
Spending a lot of time studying geography and practicing for the contest helped him, Calvin says. He also believes that being home-schooled all his life played a major role in his achievement.
Calvin lives in Jenison, Mich., with his parents and older brother, Parnell, who is also home-schooled. Calvin and Parnell tied for first place in one of the early geography contests.
“Calvin had stiff competition from his brother,” McCarter said. After an elimination round, Calvin managed to beat his brother at the local contest and go on to be top in the nation.
Calvin has decided that he definitely wants to go to college now that he has the money for it, but he is unsure of where yet. His father says that Calvin has plenty of time to decide, since he’s only 10 years old.
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