Superintendent’s Spotlight: Bay Orr hearts geography


| 26 May 2023 | 01:09

Warwick Valley Middle School sixth grader Bay Orr loves to travel with his family and has recently begun competing competing in national geography and history bees. In his free time, he explores cartography, studying atlases and drawing the countries of other continents from memory – and he remembers the spark that ignited his interest in geography and maps.

“My gym teacher at Park Avenue challenged me to memorize every single state capital. It was pretty fun, so I decided to take it a step further and learn more about the states. That, and I’ve always been fascinated by maps,” he said.

His interest quickly expanded to the countries of North America, and then the globe. It’s no surprise, then, that Orr loves studying geography and history with teachers Melissa DiGiantommaso and Christine Chenoweth.

“Bay is one of the most self-motivated students we’ve ever had,” Chenoweth said. “And he’s the only student I’ve ever known who carries around an atlas. He can draw almost every continent from memory, with its exact borders and capital city.”

Orr can tell you most of the countries’ populations, too, she said

“I’ve never had a geography student like him,” she added. “He raises the level of the discourse in our class every day.”

Recently, Orr medaled in the regional round of both the International Geography Bee and the National History Bee.

“Second place, I believe, which I am pretty proud of,” Orr said. “A guy named Jack beat me. Then, I became friends with him. I guess you can say we’re rivals, but he’s a nice guy. It’s a friendly rivalry that makes us both grow.”

His performance at the regionals means that he qualified for the 2023 Elementary and Middle School Championships in the nation’s capital on June 1-4, 2023. And looking ahead to July, Bay is planning to compete at the International History Olympiad on July 23-31. That competition takes place every two years in Rome, Italy.

That would be another stamp for his family, who all love travelling, to add to their passports. Just this year, Orr also visited Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

“I’ve been to a few countries. I guess a good amount for my age,” he said. “I helped navigate a little bit in Canada, since we had international data issues. It’s fun to travel, you get to see new places and meet new people.”

Orr also plays violin in the orchestra and enjoys getting outside for some competitive sports. He manages to get in a tennis match or two each week, and has been playing golf regularly with his mom and dad since he was 6.

“I’m not amazing at it, but I’m not bad at it,” he said about his game. “I know a good stroke, and I know a few techniques.”

As much as Orr loves the links, practicing his golf swing is on hold temporarily as he “plots his course” to victory at the championships in Washington, DC.