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Quade Kelley
Quade Kelley of Encinitas is one of 10 winners nationwide in the Who Was? History Bee competition. Courtesy photo
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Encinitas local wins national student history bee

ENCINITAS — When it comes to history trivia, sixth-grader Quade Kelley cannot be stumped.

Both of his parents, as well as the librarians at the Carlsbad Public Library, have tried to stump the young historian but to no avail. The constant quizzing helped Kelley to study for the Who Was? History Bee, a nationwide trivia contest.

The contest is based on the “Who Was?” history and biography book series. Kelley, a huge fan of the book series, was one of more than 25,000 students from 49 states who participated in the contest.

Kelley, a homeschool student with Pacific Coast Academy Inspire Family of Schools, was selected as one of the top 10 finalists and was originally supposed to go to New York City for the History Bee championship, but the live event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, all 10 finalists were named winners of the contest, including Kelley.

Kelley said it was “exhilarating and shocking” for him when he found out he was a winner.

As one of the winners, Kelley received $2,000 in prize money and got to choose where to send 50 Who Was? books to his previous schools and the library. He also got an extra $500 to send to a nonprofit organization of his choice.

Kelley isn’t sure what he is going to do with the $2,000, but the $500 is going to United Through Reading, an organization that helps military families who are separated to connect with each other through reading. He chose that organization as a way to honor his late grandfather, who helped found the organization.

Kelley is a big fan of history.

“I really like history,” he said. “It’s super fun and it’s actually really important.”

According to Kelley, historians have one of the most important jobs. He explained what he learned when listening to a speech by Eva Schloss, the stepsister of Anne Frank.

“We’re all little links on the giant chain of life, and there’s times when there’s giant, broken parts of links like World War II, but then it gets put back together by people who do amazing things,” Kelley said. “We can learn from them, and that’s why history is important: If we repeat the good things, we can keep going, but if we repeat the bad things, we can’t.”

Kelley said more kids his age should be interested in history.

“There were 25,000 kids who participated but I think there should have been more,” he said.

Kelley is also a big fan of the Who Was? books, a series that he said everyone can read and enjoy. His mother, Carrie Kelley, has started reading the books to catch up with her son.

“He knew more about history than I did when I got out of college,” she said.

Quade Kelley has many people who he considers his favorite “historic heroes,” but he named Mother Teresa as his top hero for the History Bee.

“I admire Mother Teresa because she was an ordinary person who showed great compassion and is an example of how love can change the world and make the world a better place,” Kelley explained in his winning statement for the History Bee.

Kelley said he often favors historic people who showed compassion and mercy, like Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi.

“That’s what I would want to be,” Kelley said. “I want to be kind and have all those traits they have.”