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THOUSAND OAKS : School Places 9th in Geography Contest

Thousand Oaks High School has placed ninth nationwide in the National Geography Olympiad, a test of geographical knowledge given to students at 101 schools nationwide.

The hour test, sponsored by the National Council for Geographic Education, was taken by 837 Thousand Oaks students last month, said Gregory Barker, a social studies teacher who is also the geography mentor for the Conejo Valley Unified School District.

The top 10 scores out of the 837 were combined and submitted to the Olympiad in Happague, New York.

Thousand Oaks’ combined score was 410, while the winning high school in Virginia scored 450 points, Barker said.

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The test asked 50 questions, each worth one point. One question, for example, asked students which of four U.S. cities--Minneapolis, Atlanta, Pittsburgh or Denver--is “historically most similar in function to the Soviet city of Donetsk.” The answer is Pittsburgh, which like Donetsk is a steel-producing city located on the banks of a river.

Geography has not been required learning for students for a number of years, Barker said, but that is changing for students across the state.

A new curriculum, which will go into effect in 1992, requires geography be taught as a separate subject to ninth-grade students, and be incorporated into history, social studies and other subjects in grades 10 through 12, Barker said.

“We missed a generation in our teaching and its time to bring geography back and make it important again,” Barker said.

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