By Dave Ongie, Managing Editor
A pair of young men from Liberty Bell Middle School have earned spots in a pair of national competitions that will take place in Orlando, Florida this summer.
Aaden Nguru finished runner-up in the regional geography bee to earn his spot in the national geography competition. Likewise, Ryan Gallati’s third-place finish in the regional history bee earned him a spot in the national history bee this summer.
For both students, the regional bees offered them an opportunity to put their interests on display. Nguru has been interested in Geography since he was 4 or 5 years old. He said he had an app on his iPad that has allowed him to test his knowledge, and he also enjoys scrolling through Google Earth on his phone to learn more about the world around him.
Nguru finished second in the school-wide competition at Liberty Bell and found himself fighting nerves as he got to the regional meet. As an eighth-grader, he knew he had to make the most of his opportunity to advance to nationals.
“At the regional, there were less people, but they were more talented,” Nguru said. “I was quite nervous when I first got there. This was my first and only chance.”
When the competition started, Nguru was able to size up the competition, and he noticed there were three competitors who were breezing through the preliminary rounds. But Nguru buckled down and came in second to earn his spot in the national bee.
“A weight was lifted off my shoulders,” Nguru said.
For Gallati, a longstanding love of history helped propel him to a third-place finish in the region. Gallati’s father is a Marine, and while the family was stationed in Louisiana, his fourth-grade ELA teacher got Ryan interested in World War II.
Gallati’s love for history has always been driven by the vehicles used in battle. He’ll give you his take on the German Tiger tank (slow and unreliable) and the United States’ Sherman Tank (Fast and effective once the gun was improved).
“I fell in love with the military and the vehicles,” Gallati said. “I just like how the mechanics of vehicles work. They’ve just always interested me.”
Looking up information on military vehicles on YouTube led Gallati down a rabbit hole littered with history. Obviously, a lot of those battles and events stuck, and he was able to advance from the school-wide history bee to the regional event.
Prior to the regional bee, his mom asked Ryan if he was nervous. “I said no,” Gallati recalled. “I either know it or I don’t.”
More often than not, Gallati knew the answers, and that earned him a bid to the national event. Both young men are eligible for their national competitions, which will take place in June.