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Posted on Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Dexter students prevail at first middle school regional history bee

By Lisa Carolin

The winning question at the first annual Michigan Regional Middle School History Bee competition Wednesday was this: In which state did Shays' Rebellion take place?

Before Dexter Mill Creek Middle School eighth-grade finalist Ryan McGinnis felt confident enough to offer his guess (which would have been correct), Will Wendorf answered, "Massachusetts." With that, Wendorf become the winner of the regional championship, one of 35 such championships held in the U.S.

He will advance to the National Championships in Washington, D.C. on April 21-22.

"Ryan took Will down to the last question," said Mill Creek Middle School teacher Amy Grant, who helped organize the history bee. "It couldn't have been any closer."

This was the first year that the National History Bee offered a Middle School Competition, and it was quite convenient for the top two finishers in this region that their own school just happened to host the event.

"I've always liked history, especially world history from the 19th and 20th centuries," said Wendorf, an eighth-grader. "I owe my success to Wikipedia. I'm on there a lot. I've also read some history books and have a really good memory."

McGinnis also has a good memory, which he says is a great asset.

"I read books about history all the time," he said. "You can deduce an awful lot from the past."

"Ryan reads books about history just for recreation," said his mom, Joanne McGinnis. "He loves to watch world news and has an interest and understanding of global politics, history and geography."

Both McGinnis and Wendorf have the experience of competing in Quiz Bowl.

"I'm amazed at what my son knows," said Wendorf's mom, Susan Thomas. "He has always been interested in history."

Thomas says that either she or Will's dad, Michael Wendorf, will accompany Will to the National Championships in Washington, D.C. in April.

"I look forward to going and think I have a good chance of winning," said a confident WIll Wendorf.

There will be 35 students competing for a $50,000 scholarship. The History Bee will be broadcast on the History Channel.