With the field whittled down from about 40 middle-schoolers to four, Joshua Orsi had the lead and needed just one more point to take top honors at the National History Bee’s regional competition in Phoenix recently.
But the next question sounded like gibberish at first, until Orsi heard “Hadrian’s Wall” and hit his buzzer, an instant too late. Luckily, the other student answered “Britannica,” like the Encyclopedia, and Orsi knew for sure the answer was “Britannia,” the ancient Roman province.
His hand went to the buzzer one last time.
“I slammed it down so hard my body actually shook,” Orsi said.
Although he had been glancing at the scores, the fact he had just become the middle school regional champion took a couple minutes to sink in. Now, after placing sixth at the Phoenix regional last year, Orsi will head to the National History Bee final in Atlanta for the second time this June.
This time, he hopes to at least break into the top 40. He placed 104 among 399 students last year.
“I really am energized about this. I did not expect to win,” Orsi said.
A homeschooler on Fort Huachuca who just turned 14, Orsi has a love for reading and an interest in history that may just be hereditary.
“It’s always just been so natural,” he said.
Both Orsi’s parents were history majors but his mother, Michelle Orsi, gives the credit to his father, Army Col. Doug Orsi, who shares a lot of conversations about history with their son.
“It’s really my husband and my son, the two of them are steeped in history,” she said.
But Michelle has a lot to do with Joshua’s success, spending much her time not only homeschooling him but also working with their 5-year-old daughter Sedona Orsi — 5-and-a-half — if you ask Sedona.