WILLSBORO - Austin Ferris is on top of the world - World Geography, that is.
Ferris, an eighth-grader at Willsboro Central School, won his school's competition for National Geographic magazine's annual Geography Bee and qualified for the state level of the competition. What's more, this is the second year in a row he's done so.
"I'm very proud of him," said fourth grade teacher Laura Bridge. "I've been in charge of the Geography Bee for the last six years now, and he's the only one I know of who's made it to the state level."
"He has a love of knowledge, and he practices a lot," she added. "It's a lot of hard work that's paid off."
Last year, as a seventh-grader, Ferris advanced through eight out of ten rounds of questions in the New York Geography Bee. He's now looking forward to another shot.
"I was very surprised and very happy to go back, if only because I had a lot of fun last year," said Ferris, "and it will be fun to go back."
Geography Bees are held in grades four through eight in schools throughout the United States. The winner of each school competition takes a test, which is then submitted to the National Geographic Society for review. Only the students that score among the top 100 are invited to compete at the state level.
This year's New York Geography Bee competition will be held April 9 at the New York State Museum in Albany. Winners at the state level recieve $100, a National Geographic atlas, and a trip to Washington, D.C., to represent their state in the national finals.
Ferris said this time he will be working even harder to get himself ready. He's been accessing the National Geographic Web site, where there are practice questions.
"I've been looking at most of those and quizzing myself, and just getting prepared," he said.
When asked the secret to his success, Ferris credited his family, whom he said offer him a good deal of help and motivation with studying.
"I also want to thank Mrs. Bridge for believing in me," he said.