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Geography bee winner
Claxton Middle student takes first step in national contest
W Spelling bee
Tiegan Coleman, right, won the first stage of the National Geographic Bee at Claxton Middle School. She is pictured with first runnerup Jasmine Guerra. - photo by Special

       CLAXTON - Claxton Middle School's Tiegan Coleman just completed the first stage of her chance at a $25,000 college scholarship in the National Geographic Bee.
      The seventh grader earned first place in the school-level bee just before Christmas break. It was the first round in the   22nd annual National Geographic Bee, where students answered questions on geography orally. The 2011 bee is sponsored by Google, said Tonya Blocker, Claxton's media correspondent.
      The kickoff for this year's bee was the week of Nov. 15, said Blocker, with thousands of schools around the United States and in the five U.S. territories participating.
      The next level of competition for the school-level winners, including Tiegan, will be a written test, where up to 100 of the top scorers in each state will be eligible to compete in their state Bee on April 1, Blocker said.
      State champions and teacher-escorts will take a trip, provided by the National Geographic Society, to Washington, D.C., where students will participate in the national championship rounds on May 24.
      The first-place national winner will receive a $25,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the Society, and a trip to the Galapagos Islands, courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, said Blocker.
      "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek will moderate the national finals on May 25, she said, and the program will air on TV.