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Two Local Students Win National History Bee

Two Local Students Win National History Bee

Maisa S. from Brooklyn and Adie B. from River Vale are two of the 10 champions of Penguin Young Readers’ inaugural Who Was? History Bee.

Penguin Young Readers unfortunately had to cancel the live championship for its inaugural Who Was? History Bee due to COVID-19. However, all ten finalists were recognized as winners, two of which are from the New York metro area. Maisa S., a fifth grader from Brooklyn and Adie B., a fourth grader from River Vale, New Jersey are two of the ten champions The students won for their superb knowledge of history and for their inspiring analyses of two historical figure’s contribution to our lives today. 

Maisa and Adie each received $2,000 in prize money and a library of 50 Who Was? books. They also received $500 to donate to a first responder organization, hospital, nonprofit, or any organization of their choice. Their schools, P.S/I.S 30 Mary White Ovington in Brooklyn and Roberge School in River Vale, have been awarded a 50-book Who Was? Library as well. 

Maisa chose to write about author and marine biologist Rachel Carson, who wrote the groundbreaking novel Silent Spring, a book about the negative effects pesticides have on wildlife and humans. Adie wrote about civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who fought for equal rights and subsequently ended bus segregation in America.  

This national competition, named after the bestselling Who Was? series highlighting great historical figures tested over 25,000 students, grades three through five, from 49 states. Each contestant took part in classroom-level and school-level competitions, followed by a written test of their history knowledge. Their trials were wrapped up by an essay about their own historical hero. 

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Initially, the ten finalists were going to compete in a history bee championship in Manhattan hosted by Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney and his brother, Patrick. However, the championship was cancelled due to COVID-19. That in no way diminishes the hard work and knowledge that the ten champions put on display throughout the Who Was? History Bee competition.

“This honor comes at a time when we are witnessing history in the making,” Francesco Sedita, president and publisher of Penguin Workshop, said in a press release. “With heroes rising every day, it is more valuable than ever for young people to contemplate the past, and the remarkable individuals who have changed the world for the better.” 

The winners of the competition range from all across the nation, with winners from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana, and California. They wrote their historical hero essays about figures including Malala Yousafzai, Winston Churchill, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and Abraham Lincoln.

Who Was? is a classic series including over  200 titles informing children across the nation about important historical figures, past and present. The series has covered a wide variety of people and stories, from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and American Presidents, to popular films and television series. Who Was? is now the number one nonfiction series for middle grade readers. 

You can visit the Who Was website to find more information about the competition and find out how to register your child’s class, school, and library for next year’s History Bee.   


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Patrick Gunn

Author: Patrick Gunn is a summer intern at Davler Media Group/NYMetroParents and rising senior at Syracuse University. He also contributes regularly for the Yankee blogs Start Spreading the News and Pinstripe City and enjoys a good film. See More

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