Statewide Catholic Bee puts religious knowledge to the test

ROCK HILL—How well would you do if you had to answer questions about the Catholic faith while standing in front of a room full of people? 

Students faced that challenge recently at the first Diocese of Charleston Catholic Bee held March 2 at St. Anne School. 

The competition drew 30 Catholic school students in third through eighth grades from St. Anne, St. Paul the Apostle from Spartanburg, St. Joseph from Anderson, and St. Michael School in Murrells Inlet. 

The Rock Hill school has hosted a Catholic Bee as part of its celebration of Catholic Schools Week for several years, according to event organizer Natalie Petro, who teaches second grade and serves as campus minister at St. Anne. 

“This kind of event is a great way for the students to grow their Catholic identity, and it’s a way to check in and see how well they are being evangelized and catechized,” Petro said.

She heard last fall from principals of other schools who were interested in taking part in a statewide competition, and the idea for the bee was hatched. 

Participants were quizzed on a wide variety of faith-related topics, from common prayers and devotions to parts of the Mass, holy days and feast days, the sacraments, saints, Church history and doctrine and basic Bible facts. 

The competition had two parts. Students first faced single elimination grade-level rounds. They were asked questions that came with answer choices, and had 10 to 15 seconds to respond. 

Winners of each grade level moved on to the title round. During the title round, they were not offered choices for the answer. 

In both rounds, students were eliminated if they answered incorrectly or didn’t answer within the allotted time. 

The final round was a particular  challenge because the youth were competing based on their knowledge, not age. A third-grader had the same chance of winning as an eighth-grader. 

At the end of the day, the championship went to Isabella Hardesty, a fifth-grader at St. Joseph School in Anderson. In addition to bragging  rights, she received a certificate and a statue of the Blessed Mother and St. Anne together. 

Isabella said she spent about a solid week studying the questions for the competition and memorizing as many answers as possible. 

“I was in shock that I won,” she said. “It was a big challenge for me to go up there in front of all these people and answer questions.” 

St. Joseph also fielded one of the largest teams for the bee, with 10 students participating. 

Principal Haymee Giuliani made the trip to Rock Hill with the students and their parents and chaperones. 

“I’m very proud of Isabella because she put in a lot of work for it,” Giuliani said. 

Petro said there is already interest in making the statewide Catholic Bee an annual tradition, although the exact form it will take is still in the works. 

Photos by Christina Lee Knauss/Miscellany

Grade-level finalists for the Catholic Bee stand onstage at St. Anne School in Rock Hill, including Isabella Hardesty (third from left), the winner of the statewide competition. The finalists are Adrian Pauksta, Daniel Leon Osario and Rosie Rams, all from St. Paul the Apostle School in Spartanburg; John Truluck from St. Michael School in Murrells Inlet; and Abigain Helmueller from St. Anne School in Rock Hill.