The Home School Court Report
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MAY / JUNE 1999
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Cover Story
Does One Size Really Fit All?

Special Features
Hard Work and Prayer Make David Beihl the Best He Can Be

A New Strategy on RLPA

Strings Attached to Vouchers Weave an Entangling Web

National Center Reports
Ed Flex Act Passes Congress

Pending Matters: Your Call Counts

Light Within Congress

Weyrich Letter Makes Waves

Across the States
State by State

Regular Features
Press Clippings

Active Cases

Prayer and Praise

A Contrario Sensu

President’s Page

S P E C I A L   F E A T U R E

Hard Work and Prayer Make David Beihl the Best He Can Be

David Beihl, the 1999 victor of National Geographic Society’s National Geography Bee, is not your regular champion.
    Beihl maintained his poise throughout the geography competition, which was held in one of those impressive Washington, DC, hotels and emceed by Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek. Beihl answered the questions with confidence. But that’s the stuff regular champions are made of.
    Some may say he’s different because he’s a home schooler from Saluda, South Carolina, who receives more individual attention than his counterparts in the standard classroom.
    Others might add that he’s unusual because he walks four miles a day with his mother, and reviewed his geography with her during this exercise.
    Still others might say that he is unusual because he qualified for national competition in both the geography bee and the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. But in 1998, another home schooler won second place in the geography bee, and then competed in the spelling bee.
    No, what makes Beihl significantly different is his response to victory.
    As David’s mother, Penny, tells it, the family uses a familiar story to guide their reactions. “When Jesus healed the 10 sick men, only one returned to say thanks,” Penny said. So when the family returned to their hotel room, they knelt together and said a thank you prayer.

Winning question:

The condition characterized by unusually cold ocean temperature in the equatorial region of the eastern Pacific Ocean is known by what Spanish name?


La Niña

    David has been in the national geography contest before, but this was his last chance to win, Penny explained. Next year David, who turned 14 a week and a half after the bee, will be too far along in school.
    “God oversees insignificant matters as well as big things. We knew it might not be God’s will for David to win, but we committed it to Him.” Penny said David studied maps, read books, and used the local library extensively.
    Although David had an opportunity for another national championship a week later during the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, he didn’t get revved up about the spelling bee.
    “I do the spelling for fun. I don’t know it as well as I do geography,” David told the Court Report the day of the geography bee. As Penny explained, there wasn’t enough time between the two contests for David to really prepare for the June 2–3 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.
    National Geographic awarded David a $25,000 scholarship and an all-expense paid trip for two to Australia. Of the 55 contestants in the national geography bee, five were home schoolers.
    In contrast, the national spelling bee started with five times as many contestants. Of the 247 spellers in the national tournament, 13 were home schoolers. David Beihl made it to round five, along with 28 other spellers, six of whom were home schoolers.
    The home schoolers were gaining ground proportionately as the spelling bee proceeded. Going into round seven, two of the eight remaining spellers were home schoolers: Ann Foley, 13, sponsored by The Columbus Dispatch of Columbus, Ohio, and George Abraham Thampy, 11, sponsored by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of St. Louis, Missouri.
    Round seven saw Ann misspell “quinquevir,” and Thampy tied for third overall when in round eight he misspelled “kirtle.” Last year George was one of the final five when he spelled his way to round eight.
    Thampy, another one of the double-threat home schoolers, narrowly missed competing in the geography bee this year. Missouri was represented at the geography bee instead by George’s sister, Mallika Thampy.
    “Mallika defeated her brother to represent Missouri in the National Geography Bee. . . . I’d hate to be the referee in that family,” Alex Trebek said, after learning that both children plan to enter both contests next year.