A Woodmere teenager took the trophy as first runner-up in this year's National History Bee in Atlanta, which included 440 students from 47 states.

Alec Fischthal, an eighth-grader at Woodmere Middle School, won second place this month in the bee, which ended a yearlong competition featuring thousands of middle school and elementary students.

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To reach the national level, he first won at the school level, then took an online exam to reach the regionals in Yonkers. There, he placed third in the "Jeopardy!"-style competition.

"I'm amazed; I can't believe I got so far," said Alec, 13, adding he's had a love of history -- particularly the Civil War -- since he was 3.

The national bee tested students' knowledge of everything from ancient China's economy to political impacts of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As first runner-up, Alec was given a trophy and a Kindle Fire.

"We're thrilled for Alec," Woodmere principal Rick Berkowitz said. "Alec has said history is like a story. Well, I'm looking forward to one day reading about the Alec Fischthal story."

Outside of school, Alec has launched Literacy for Kids, which has issued thousands of books to underprivileged children abroad.