Weather Forecast


Bee-bound WMS student going back to the past

Woodbury Middle School eighth grader Peter Blanchfield will be competing this weekend in the National History Bee finals in Atlanta. He is competing for a $5,000 scholarship. (Staff photo by Amber Kispert-Smith)

Woodbury Middle School eighth grader Peter Blanchfield is hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself at this weekend’s National History Bee finals.

Blanchfield is headed to Atlanta, June 6-8, to compete in the National History Bee finals for the second time, but this year he hopes to finish at the top. Last year, Blanchfield placed 185th out of 425 students

“I’m as confident as I can be,” he said. “I don’t think anyone can say they expect to win with so many kids there.”

Blanchfield qualified for the National History Bee finals by placing in the top 10 at the Minneapolis Regional History Bee, which was held March 19 at Nova Classical Academy.

National History Bee

The National History Bee, which is broadcast live on the History Channel, is a Jeopardy-style competition for students in grades 4-8. The competition is divided into half world history and half United States history.

Questions in the competition, which is split into an elementary and  middle school divisions, cover such topic as the Mongols, the 1912 Overture, embargoes, John F. Kennedy and even sports.

“Everything you could really think of is somehow touched on or referenced in some way or another,” Blanchfield said.

During the National History Bee finals, students will compete in six preliminary rounds of questions.

The students with the top 40 scores at the conclusion of the preliminary rounds will then advance to the championship rounds, which will narrow the group down to one eventual champion.

The middle school champion will receive a $5,000 scholarship.

Learning from the past

Blanchfield first competed in the National History Bee last year because he has such a passion for history.

During last year’s national finals, Blanchfield, who was then in seventh grade, said he noticed the students that excelled the most during the competition were eighth graders, which is why he decided to try to get to the competition again.

“I thought this year could be my year,” he said, “because I knew what was coming.”

Blanchfield has taken to working with teachers at WMS to prepare for the National History Bee, in addition to reading through history books and watching the History Channel on his own.

“There’s not a ton you can specifically study for,” he said. “You’re trying to get as much knowledge as you can in your mind and you just have to hope you get the questions that you know.”

Blanchfield guessed that he has put in between 40 and 45 hours of studying, between both the regional and the national competition.

No matter the outcome of this year’s National History Bee, Blanchfield said his love of history will never become history.

“I like how history influences us,” he said. “You can just see history in the world around us – you can just look at some random thing and there’s history behind it.

“Plus you can trace humans through history.”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

(651) 702-0976