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World Whizzes

Adam Platt
Daily Times-Call

   DENVER They sat side by   side in the front two rows of   Classroom 253.

   Twenty Colorado students shared the honor of having won their school competitions and passing a tough qualifying test to reach the finals.

   But the last thing any of those students were doing was resting on their laurels.

   The fourth- through eighth-graders were among 100 contestants in the state-level competition of the 2001 National Geography Bee on Friday at the University of Denver.

    Four area students Grant Berg of Westview Middle School, Jerry Coleman-Dodson of Heritage Middle School,  Forrest Bowlick of Lyons Middle/Senior High School and Oriana Magnera of Louisville Middle School competed in the finals.

   Each of the students answered tough questions posed by Bill Krape, a geography teacher from Littleton's Heritage High School.

   "I was keeping score on myself," Krape said. "There were at least four of those that I didn't know."

   Of the 100 students competing in the bee's preliminary round, only 10 made it to the finals.

   And although none of the area's students made it to the finals, all put up a good fight.

   "There is one question that I am kind of angry at myself for missing," Magnera said.

   The question: What westernmost country on the mainland of Europe is a major source of cork?

   Give up?

   The answer is Portugal.

   The eighth-grader, who is headed to Monarch High School next year, missed a chance at the finals by just one question. Magnera said  she studied atlases and reviewed recent news to prepare.

   Berg, 12, a sixth-grader, beat out older students from Westview Middle School to qualify for the competition.

   "I knew the answers for a lot of the questions that other people got," a dejected Berg said after the preliminary round. "But I got all the questions that I didn't know."

   But 13-year-old Coleman-Dodson was singing a different tune after the competition.

    "I want to go outside," Coleman-Dodson said with a smile on his face.

   His mother, Robyn Coleman, added, "I don't think that I could have made it in the geography bee at all."

   But the students weren't the most nervous people in the rooms. As many as 50 parents crowded behind the students and listened anxiously for their children's responses to the questions.

    The winner of the Colorado competition, Nathan McNew of Broomfield, won a trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the national competition.

    The winner of that competition, scheduled for August, will earn a $25,000 scholarship.

   Adam Platt can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 273, or by e-mail at


Carrier Routes


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Buddhist spreads teachings throughout Colorado, Western U.S.

DeeDee Correll
Daily Times-Call

   LONGMONT This isn't the Rev. Kanya Okamoto's only congregation.

   Far from it.

   When he leaves tonight, he'll drive to a town near Sterling. Then south of Alamosa and north again to Wyoming and perhaps Montana. On other days he will drive east to the village of Rocky Ford, then onto Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

   Some of these towns and states may be new on his traveling circuit as a Buddhist minister.

   But here in Longmont, the tradition of Buddhism brought long ago by the Japanese farmers who settled here is solid.

   The teachings are delivered in an old schoolhouse south of town, hidden by pines from the traffic on U.S. 287, unnoticeable except to those who know to look for it.

   Except for its location, nothing of the century-old Burlington School is recognizable anymore.

   In 1968, the two-room building was converted into a temple of white stucco, its lines sloping and curved, instead of plain and straight. Inside, the lessons are not of arithmetic or writing, but of compassion and faith.

   Today, Okamoto is leading the small congregation in a version of Happy Birthday for this particular day is the 2,567th anniversary of the birth of Prince Siddhartha, who later became Buddha.

   "I take refuge in the Buddha," Okamoto intones, his voice as melodic as a bell. "May we gain wisdom as deep as the ocean."

   At the front of the room is a shrine of flowers, with fresh red and pink carnations circling the base. Inside is a tiny gold figurine of the baby Buddha.

   One by one, the worshippers walk up to the shrine and pour a ladle of tea over the Buddha.

   The tea represents the rain that fell the day he was born, Karen Wood, an officer with the Longmont Buddhist Temple, explains.

   As the legend goes, the pregnant Queen Maya was returning to her parents' castle in India when she stopped to rest in a garden. There, she went into labor and delivered her son, Siddhartha.

   "As he was born, a sweet rain fell," Wood continues.

   The story goes that he grew up to eventually transcend the realms of suffering in which most humans exist and moved into the realm of enlightenment.

   Doing the same is possible for all people, say Okamoto and the Rev. Colin Egan, a visiting Zen priest who also spoke at the service.

   "We experience suffering because we keep our mind fixed on the physical world. We don't allow Buddha to permeate us. So I'm going to say to you in a nice Zen way," Egan pauses, then yells, "Wake up! Realize it! Not in 50 years' time, but right in this very moment!"

   Buddhism incorporates the concepts that one's actions affect one's own happiness and that the inability to accept things that cannot be changed causes one's own suffering, Wood says.

   "There is no hell in Buddhism. You make your own hell if you choose to do that," she says.

   In order to draw nearer to enlightenment, one must "see things as they really are, not as you hope it will be," Okamoto adds.

   Doing so is always a struggle for most people, he tells the group that surrounds him after the service with questions. Many of them are members who've recently joined.

   Though the congregation is bolstered by a handful of newcomers who want to learn more about the religion, it remains small.

   "Buddhism in America hasn't been growing by leaps and bounds," Wood says.

   Perhaps that is because Buddhists don't believe in trying to convert others to their religion, she suggests. Okamoto agrees.

   "People who are looking for something will find it," he says.

   That is how Marie Matzel, who lives in Frederick, came to the temple.

   "The little I knew about (Buddhism) made me look for something here," she says.

   So far, she suspects she's found it.

   "Everyone is so loving and sweet, and they're helping me figure this all out," Matzel says.

   DeeDee Correll can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 211, or by e-mail   at


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Suspect dies in Denver shooting

Associated Press

   DENVER  A Denver police officer on Sunday shot and killed a man armed with a knife who had been suspected of assaulting his girlfriend and a family friend.

   Police said the suspect had assaulted his girlfriend at around 3:00 a.m. Sunday when they had an argument over money he allegedly used to buy drugs. The suspect left and returned, and assaulted a family friend who tried to restrain him.

   After the suspect fled again, police were called to the scene. While police were there, the suspect returned to the house and ran into a back bedroom. The suspect, armed with a knife, approached an officer, who shot him, Denver police said in a statement.

   The suspect, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead after being brought to Denver Health Medical Center.

   Police said the police officer involved in the shooting had been with the force since 1999. The officer's name was not released.       

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