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Student Awards


Merkowitz Brothers Award for Excellence in the National Geographic Geography Bee.

Participation in the National Geographic Geography Bee is one manifestation of Nativity’s emphasis on global education. Since 1989, students in Grades 4-8 have competed to represent Nativity at the state level (and beyond) of the Geography Bee sponsored by the National Geographic Society. Brothers David and Jake Merkowitz both made it to the state round of competition in back-to-back years: David advanced in 1992, and Jake represented Nativity in 1993.

Their love of geography and belief in the importance of knowing “how to get there and how to get home” led them to establish the Merkowitz Brothers Award for Excellence in the National Geographic Geography Bee. The winner of the school round at Nativity will have his/her name engraved on a plaque that will hang in the main hall of Nativity.

I have taken a couple things away from the Geography Bee. First, I will always remember that kiwi is the number one fruit export of New Zealand that is also a topping on ice cream. That was a question I missed at the state level Geography Bee. Second, when we don’t know about the world around us, we can never truly know ourselves.       David Merkowitz

David (Nativity 1992, St. Xavier 1996, B.A. University of Toledo 2000, M.A. University of Cincinnati 2002) is working on his Ph.D. in history at UC. Jake (Nativity 1993, Purcell Marian 1997, and University of Cincinnati 2004) is working for the Federal Government.

Amerigo Vespucci Map Test Award

With the goal that our graduates have thorough background in political and physical geography, Nativity establishd the Amerigo Vespucci Map Test Award in 1986. It is awarded to the student(s) in Grades 6, 7 or 8 with the highest score on the Map Test of the World.

Read what the winners have said about the Geography Program at Nativity.

I know that being knowledgeable about the world’s geography has been helpful. It was invaluable in my history classes in high school and throughout my college career. Realizing that some children grow up and graduate from high school without knowing where China, Iraq, or Afghanistan is located is unsettling. Nativity provides an excellent opportunity for kids to set themselves up for success by studying geography.           Charlie Suer ’01

As a freshman at Walnut Hills High School, Modern World History was one of my favorite classes. As Mr. McCormick would lecture about topics ranging from Napoleon’s exiles to the trenches dug in WWI to Hitler’s invasion of Russia, I was able to visualize the numerous locations in accordance with each other due to the hours I put in studying for the world map tests in junior high. Thank you, Amerigo Vespucci, for helping me get the most out of my freshman history class at Walnut Hills.               Carson Neff  ’08, ’09

For me, being challenged every year to learn the countries, capitals, and landmarks around the world helped to expand my view of the world. Not only through the map tests, but through my overall education at Nativity I felt as though I learned more than what was right in front of my face. In high school and then college, I continued to further that education and Nativity served as the platform to help me succeed. I encourage all students to think outside the box and always challenge yourself to learn more. There are so many fascinating people and places around the world and learning the countries is only the first step to discovering everything there is to offer.                         Becca Mustard ’03

Nativity’s focus on geography expanded my awareness of and curiosity for the world beyond Cincinnati at a young age. Both in high school and college, I knew much more than my peers about world geography and the “puzzle pieces” of the world.  It’s one of the great skills that sets Nativity graduates apart from others. Being able to fill in a blank world map is a rare skill! I didn’t fully appreciate this until many years after I left Nativity, but it’s been a wonderful asset to me (and to my teammates in trivia games over the years!). Also, I now work in international health development, and having such strong foundation in world geography at a young age helped to push me in this direction.                Kate Schroder ’90, ’91

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