The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin  Catholic

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Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin
January 25, 2002 Issue

Do you know your cities, states and countries?

St. Thomas More students test their geography skills

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

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Which state is Colorado's least populous neighbor?

What river forms the border between Nebraska and Iowa?

Name the British colony located on a peninsula in Southern Spain.

These questions are just a sampling of those asked to the nine students who recently competed in the St. Thomas More School Geographic Bee.

The answers: Wyoming, the Missouri River and Gibraltar.

Eighth grader Andrew Umentum captured top honors in this year's contest, while sixth grader Stephen Uhyrek finished second. Several tiebreaker questions were required to determine the champion.

"It's fun, but you do get nervous," said Umentum. "You can't really study for it because there is such a variety of questions. You could study Africa and not have a question about it."

"I like to look at maps," said Uhyrek. "It (geography) just sticks with me. We had just talked about Italy and Greece in Social Studies and it helped me answer a question.

St. Thomas More teacher Susan Gaul coordinates the annual geography contest at the Green Bay school. The questions, rules and regulations are provided by the National Geographic Society.

"The students compete in their homerooms and the top two get to come here," explained Gaul. "The National Geographic Society provides everything including medals and certificates."

Gaul said the contest not only promotes student interest in geography, but also current events.

"The kids are able to pick up things by following the national news," she said.

One example was a question about California's rolling blackouts.

Students were asked to answer random questions orally and provide written answers to questions presented to all participants. Two incorrect answers eliminated a competitor.

"I liked the written questions better," said Uhyrek. "Everyone got the same questions. When the questions were asked to each one of us there was a chance you could get a harder question."

Umentum will take a written test to attempt to qualify for the state geography competition.

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