Melinda Heights student qualifies for national and international geography bees

Ritvik Swamanathan SVUSD student
Saddleback Valley Unified School District student Ritvik Swamanathan, 11, will compete in the National Geography Bee in June.

A sixth-grade student attending Melinda Heights Elementary School will travel to Arlington, Virginia in June to compete in the final round of the National Geography Bee.

Saddleback Valley Unified School District logo

To get to this point, 11-year-old Ritvik Swamanathan completed a qualifying geography exam, where he answered 50 multiple-choice questions in 20 minutes. That earned him a spot in the regional finals with other elementary school-aged students. 

“Ritvik is an outstanding student at Melinda Heights Elementary,” Principal Kathy Martin said. “His fun, diligent, kind spirit has made him a good friend to all.” 

Organized by the International Academic Competitions, thousands of students who are considered highly-qualified competitors will travel to Virginia in June to participate in an academic competition testing their comprehensive knowledge of world geography. The best of the best can also fly to Ecuador for the International Geography Bee — which Ritvik has already qualified for. 

Portions of the event will give students time to craft their answers through an essay-based format, while other rounds will require more quick thinking through a buzzer-based competition.

The Saddleback Valley Unified School District student first became interested in geography when he stumbled on a video at the age of 8. Immediately hooked, Ritvik started reading articles and consuming videos about the subject. He recently memorized all of the national flags in the world. 

Besides geography, Ritvik also enjoys playing soccer and video games. He is interested in pursuing a career in computer science — or becoming a professional soccer player. 

“While he loves competitions, he is also the first one to reach out and assist anyone who needs help,” Martin said. “We could not be more proud!”