National Geographic April 9 announced that 54 students, including more than a dozen Indian American competitors, have won their state competitions and will advance to the 30th annual National Geographic Bee next month.

More than 4,600 students April 6 competed across the country as well as Washington, D.C., Atlantic and Pacific territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools, looking to win state competitions.

Each state winner, in addition to earning a spot in the nationwide competition May 20 to May 23 in Washington, D.C., received a $200 cash prize and the "National Geographic Visual Atlas of the World, 2nd Edition."

Among the 2018 state winners were Gayatri Kaimal, a Tucson, Arizona-based seventh grader at Basis Tucson North; Venkat Ranjan, a San Ramon, Calif.-based eighth grader at Windemere Ranch Middle School; Windermere, Fla.-based Windermere Preparatory School sixth grader Kaylan Patel; Suwanee, Ga.-based Riverwatch Middle School eighth grader Vishal Sareddy; and LeClaire, Iowa-based Pleasant Valley Junior High School eighth grader Kavya Kalathur.

Additionally, Portage, Mich.-based Moorsbridge Elementary School fifth grader Paarth Sharma; Anoushka Buddhikot of Bridgewater, N.J.-based Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School; Albuquerque (N.M.) Academy seventh grader Lakshay Sood; Fargo, N.D.-based Discovery Middle School eighth grader Krishna Kamalakannan; and Lewis Center, Ohio-based Orange Middle School eighth grader Saket Pochiraju were victorious in their respective state competitions.

Other state Geography Bee winners across the country included Ashwin Sivakumar, an eighth grader at Portland, Ore.-based Oregon Episcopal School; Arnab Sircar, an eighth grader at Kennet Square, Pa.-based Charles F. Patton Middle School; Aditya Narayanan, a Germantown, Tenn.-based Riverdale Elementary/Middle School sixth grader; Nihar Janga, an Austin, Texas-based Canyon Ridge Middle School seventh grader; and Ishan Lishar, a Bellevue, Wash.-based Spiritridge Elementary School fifth grader.

National Geographic said that eight of the 54 competitors who advanced to the national championship have competed in the final phase of the competition in years past. Among the students making a return trip to Washington, D.C., include Sood, Pochiraju, Kamalakannan, Sareddy and Sivakumar.

The national Geography Bee champion will receive a $50,000 college scholarship; a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, which includes a lifetime subscription to National Geographic magazine; and an all-expenses-paid Lindblad expedition to the Galápagos Islands aboard the National Geographic Endeavour ll. Second- and third-place finishers in the national competition will receive $25,000 and $10,000 college scholarships, respectively.

Indian American Pranav Varada won the 2017 competition, while Veda Bhattaram took third (see India-West article here).

The national championship preliminary rounds, in which all 54 state winners will take part, will take place on May 20 and May 21. The national championship final rounds featuring the top 10 finalists from the preliminary rounds will be held on May 23 at National Geographic’s Washington, D.C., headquarters and will be moderated by humorist and journalist Mo Rocca.

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