LONDONDERRY — Michelle Kerns, an eighth-grader at Londonderry Middle School, knows her way around the world.

Michelle took first place in her school's geography bee, the first step toward the 23rd National Geographic Bee. The school bee was held Dec. 15, organized by special curriculum teacher Jan Armstrong.

Each year the National Geographic Society sponsors geography bees for students in the fourth through eighth grades in thousands of schools across the country and in the five U.S. territories, as well as in Department of Defense Dependents schools around the world. The 2011 Bee is sponsored by Google.

While Michelle and second-place winner, seventh-grader Dale Larie, and third-place winner, eighth-grader Haley Tarbox, were not present Monday, Dec. 20, for an awards ceremony, the rest of the school's finalists gathered in the school's lobby to receive certificates from principal Richard Zacchilli.

The finalists were John Perry and Erika Tsetsilas from the sixth grade; June Cranmer, Alexis Dionne, Tanner Holk and Jillian Joubert from the seventh grade and eighth-grader Alex Young.

"One of the questions was which countries border the Mediterranean Sea," John Perry said. "There are a lot. I know, because I didn't get it right."

All the finalists agreed that many questions were difficult.

"One was what country produces the most potatoes," Tanner Holk said. "Russia, for potato vodka."

Michelle will go on to take a 100-question written examination on Jan. 5 to determine if she will represent her middle school at the state level. State winners and their teacher escorts will receive an all-expense paid trip to participate in the national competition on May 24 and 25 in Washington, D.C. The national champion will receive a $25,000 college scholarship.

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