While his mind may be on the past, James Ekeya’s sights are set on the future.James Ekeya

Last January, the then-fifth grader won the Vancouver Elementary History Bee. He followed up that competition with a victory in the regional History Bee and earned a spot in the National History Bee in December.

“I have a really big love of history, thinking about the past and what happened back then, and comparing it to what’s happening now,” said James, now in sixth grade at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. He excels in his war knowledge and is working to increase his command of space exploration facts. And although he is focused on learning about the past, his study methods include both time-tested tactics (reading) and some from the 21st century (YouTube).

James’ teachers at Sacajawea Elementary School boosted his love of history. Teacher Ramona Lomeli nominated him for his first competition when he was in the fourth grade. He didn’t win, but he wanted to keep going, and teacher Jeff Lee also provided support along the way.

Even though James is now competing virtually, his drive remains strong. “I still get that same rush of intensity,” he says. “When I hear that question, I want to be the first to click in. I still get that adrenaline.”