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Comox student places in the top 20 in Canadian Geographic Challenge

By Tami Jerome

By Tami Jerome

Special to the Record

Which large waterfall is located near the triple frontier between Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina? What does the name Nunavut mean in the Inuit language of Inuktitut? Which island nation is the largest in the Caribbean Sea?

These are just a few of the questions from this year’s Canadian Geographic Challenge, a national geography competition. Each year, more than 500 schools engage their students in this rigorous test of their geographic knowledge and skills. Since 2005, Highland Secondary has hosted an annual school-wide challenge, with the top 10 students at the junior (Grade 8-10) and senior (Grade 11 and 12) battling it out in the school finals. The school junior champion advances to the provincials.

This year, Grade 10 student Benoit Vaillant represented the school and excelled at the provincial level, qualifying him for the national competition. On May 23-24, Vaillant competed online, which was composed of both a fieldwork test and a written test.

For the fieldwork portion, Vaillant made observations in the Cumberland Community Forest and then answered questions around this data. The written portion of the test was more advanced than previous levels and included knowledge and application questions including satellite imagery and street views of locations around the world.

Although the competition was tough, Vaillant performed extremely well and placed in the top 20 students in Canada.

As noted in 2019 by Alex Trebek, a long-time supporter of the Canadian Geographic Challenge, “We live in a period now of crisis for our planet, and it strikes me that geography is even more important now than it has ever been.”

Vaillant will receive prizes from Canadian Geographic in the coming weeks as recognition of his impressive standing. Highland students are looking forward to next year’s challenge.

For the geographically curious, the answers to the above questions are: Iguazu Falls, Our Land, and Cuba.

Tami Jerome is a teacher-librarian & leadership 11/12 teacher at Highland Secondary in Comox

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