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Naples eighth-grader Sophia Leonard, 14, is the champion of the 2006 Scholastic Challenge for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe competition.

Naples eighth-grader Sophia Leonard, 14, is the champion of the 2006 Scholastic Challenge for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe competition. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — An eighth-grader at Naples High School is the 2006 military schools’ champion for a test designed to measure pupils’ general knowledge, said school Principal Kay Galloway.

Given to 26,000 pupils worldwide, the Scholastic Challenge test covers six sections: general knowledge, language/literature, geography, history, science and math, Galloway said. The number of Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe pupils who took the test was unavailable Wednesday.

Sophia Leonard, 14, said she was surprised she did so well on the test — she scored a 77 — which includes topics that she said she doesn’t pay much attention to, such as current events and sports.

To tackle these questions, Leonard used process of elimination, she said.

“Some of the sports questions I knew that one of them couldn’t possibly be it at all ’cause it was a totally different sport, and then from there you can narrow it down just a bit and then choose one of those answers,” Sophia said.

She said the math part of the exam was also challenging, but she also enjoys solving math problems.

“It’s a puzzle. You can’t just memorize one thing, you’d have to actually think about it,” she said.

Mark J. Andreoli, Sophia’s science teacher, said the test results show that Leonard is a well-rounded pupil.

“I couldn’t have gotten 77 out of 100,” Andreoli said. The average score on the test was a 51.

Andreoli, the test coordinator for Naples High School, said he asked 30 eighth-grade pupils to take the optional test.

Asking Sophia to take the test was a “no-brainer,” he said. He described the teen as a “meticulous” pupil who asks probing questions about biology and physics.

“She keeps me on my toes,” Andreoli said.

Galloway said Sophia “thrives” on intellectual challenge.

“She is a great student. She is modest about her abilities, but her bright intellect really shines, and we’re very, very proud of her accomplishment, and it’s a tribute to her and her parents and her teachers,” Galloway said.

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