Fredonia eighth grader wins geography title | News, Sports, Work

Submitted photo Fredonia student Ray Dye at the International Geography Bee in Orlando.

Ray Dye of Fredonia just finished eighth grade and has already made a name for himself by competing in geography bees.

Most recently, he returned from Orlando, Florida, where he competed in the USA Geography Championships, competing with other eighth graders from around the country.

In fact, Dai did more than just race. He won.

Dye said he always had an interest in geography, but the interest was incubated by both his teachers at school and parents at home.

“It started when I was a kid,” Dai said. “My mom gave me a book with all the flags of the world, and my first grade teacher had a map of the world that I looked at every day. That’s really how the interest started.”

Dye first began competing in geography competitions at Fredonia when she was in fourth grade, as Fredonia hosts the National Geography Bee each year. Although he didn’t do too well in his first outing, he competed again in fifth grade, this time winning the race and advancing to the state competition in Albany, becoming the first Fredonia student to make it that far in more than a decade.

Dye was one of only six fifth-graders in the state to qualify for the competition, and they made it to the finals of that event and were able to qualify for states the following year as well, although that was canceled due to the pandemic.

Due to the pandemic, the National Geography Bee is no longer being run, although Dai would not be without competition. The United States Geography Championships found his old results and invited him to take a grade in February, which qualified him for the national and international geography competitions, placing sixth in the international competition and winning the national. Dye said she enjoyed the entire trip to Orlando, both for the race and the city itself.

“I really enjoyed competing and meeting other people,” he said. “We got to tour Orlando and I went to Disney World with my family which was a really nice experience.”

Dai has several goals he would like to achieve outside of these competitions. On the one hand, he would like to compete in the next step of the competition, which is the International Geography Olympiad, which will be held in Paris this year. Although Dye is not in attendance this year, it is something he would like to achieve.

Dai’s other goal, however, is simpler: He wants to travel the world one day, which is a logical step for a geography major like him. Dye said he is most curious to see the cultures and places he has spent so much time learning about.

“I just love exploring the world and different cultures,” Dai said. “I think it’s really interesting to see how many different people live in the world and to discover more about other places.”

Dye received support from several of his teachers at Fredonia, including eighth-grade teacher Doug Correll, who gave Dye advice on how to study for the events. Dai also received a lot of support from his parents.

For now, Dye has the summer off to relax and study for the qualifying exam that will be held in January. His next social studies teacher has already given him a human geography textbook to help him with this. And as Dai studies, he will do so with the dream of seeing these places that have until now been left for text on a page.

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