April 30, 1995 in City

Home-Schooled Student Wins $5,000 Geography Prize

Associated Press

Rebekah Witt’s decision to use her expansive back yard to teach her neighbors about the history of their surroundings has won her a $5,000 prize.

The idea to use the field behind her family’s house came after the 14-year-old Witt surveyed more than 400 fifth-graders at several public and private schools around the area. When most could not identify the Twin Cities-area tribe as the Chehalis, she wanted to transform the plant life around her home into a living educational exhibit about how indigenous people once sustained themselves on the area’s resources.

“Educating them a little more about the way the Pacific Northwest Native Americans used the natural resources here,” Rebekah explained in a 19-page proposal.

Rebekah’s idea won a second-place, $5,000 award in the nationwide American Express Geography Competition. Even though she should be an eighth-grader, the home-schooled student tests at a high-school sophomore level and competed against high school-age students.

Her mother, Victoria Witt, also won a $1,000 cash award as Rebekah’s teacher. The awards were announced Friday in New York.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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