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Seventh-grader Deacon Erickson will participate in state Bee later this month

FILE PHOTO - Deacon Erickson, a seventh-grader who took first place in the Estacada Middle School National Geographic Bee, has qualified for the state Bee. The competition will take place later this month.Estacada seventh-grader Deacon Erickson will be one of 100 students participating in the state's National Geographic Bee later this month.

Erickson took first place in Estacada Middle School's National Geographic Bee in February and was one of the top 100 scorers in a 70-question online qualifying test for the state Bee, which is scheduled for Friday, March 31.

"The first 20 questions were the most mind blowing questions I've ever seen," Erickson said. "But I was really confident on the rest."

Leaders at the middle school said Erickson is the first student from Estacada to qualify for the state Bee.

"I was so thrilled (when I found out)," said Kristole Juker, who teaches seventh-grade social studies at Estacada Middle School. "It's just amazing."

Erickson is excited, as well.

"It's pretty cool," he said.

After the state Bee, the top scorers across the U.S. will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the bee's national championship rounds in May. The winner at the national Bee will receive a trip to the Galapagos Islands, as well as a $50,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.

In a previous interview with the Estacada News, Chelsea Zillmer, director of the National Geographic Bee, said the purpose of the event is to "inspire and reward students' curiosity about the world."

Erickson said his favorite places to learn about are Australia, Canada and Alaska.

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