Sometimes, passions begin on a whim, while others are nurtured. For Moorestown Upper Elementary School fifth-grader Anthony Hays, it was a little bit of both in regard to history.
From a young age, Anthony was able to name all of the presidents of the United States and knew when their terms were as well. His parents noticed this and provided him with material to pursue that passion.
That knowledge and love for history has grown, and has shown with Anthony’s accomplishment of being crowned a regional champion of the History Bee in the elementary division, a competition held in Wynnewood, Pa. on Saturday, April 18. The win qualified him for the National History Bee to be held in Louisville, Ky. on May 22–24.
According to Anthony’s mother Dina, he started to show an interest in the presidents when he was quite young, and within a week, he knew the presidents and all terms. After that, he was asking for more and more material to read. Now he will read one or two history books a week. In addition to reading, he often watches ABC World News Tonight and plays along with the contestants on “Jeopardy!”
While Dina likes history, she is not passionate about it, as science is more her thing. Instead she attributes his passion to her mother, who is a history buff as well.
“I love history. I really like reading books about it and all of the interesting things that you can learn about history,” Anthony said.
Dina wanted Anthony to be recognized for his academic success and did some research to find the history bee. To qualify, one has to take an online test. Anthony took a few practice tests before the real one and that was it; he was in the competition.
For the regional tournament, Anthony was mostly excited, but also a little nervous because he didn’t know what to expect. He knew the material, but didn’t know how well his competition knew history.
There were approximately 50 participants in the tri-state area who qualified for this regional event. Each student participated in three qualifying rounds that included buzzing in to answer. The top children went on to a two-part championship round. As the competition went on, the questions got harder, but not enough to sway Anthony. He ended up sweeping all three qualifying rounds and also the two-part championship round, being named one of 10 students going to the national competition.
“It feels great to be one of the 10 people going to nationals,” Anthony said.
“We’re very happy and obviously very proud he is being recognized for his talents. It was his first time, and I knew he knew the material. Ask him anything and he knows, it is just remarkable,” Dina said.
As the National History Bee competition is coming up, Anthony feels a little nervous, but is once again excited. He has never been to Kentucky, and though he is there for the competition, he hopes to look around, too.
“I just hope I do well,” Anthony said.
“In nationals, I hope he is able to relax, enjoy it, not feel stressed and do his best,” Dina said.
Although he is only in fifth-grade, Anthony has expressed wanting to be a history professor one day. He also has a talent for geography as he recently had the chance to take a test to qualify for the United States Geography Olympiad where he tied for second. Although Dina said they aren’t sure if he is going to the finals for that, as they are the same weekend as the National History Bee, they are focusing on the now with the National History Bee coming up.