Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 10, 2013

11th Annual High School Geography Bowl

103 high school students test their knowledge at CU

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

ATHENS — From the banks of the Ohio River to the highlands surrounding the Bluestone River valley, 103 students from 15 high schools statewide traveled to “the Campus Beautiful,” of Concord University for the 11th Annual High School Geography Bowl.

The event tests the knowledge of students on all things geographic. The competition is sponsored by the West Virginia Geographic Alliance and can earn a full-ride scholarship to CU for the overall top scorer.

The team from Wheeling Park High School repeated as state champions earning top honors in the 2013 competition. Woodrow Wilson High School earned second place team honors and a Pikeview High School student, Jake Ramthun posted the high score. With his victory, Ramthun will be offered a scholarship to CU, according to Dr. Joe Manzo, CU professor of geography and coordinator of the WV Geographic Alliance.

“It was very competitive all the way through,” Manzo said. “The teachers deserve all the credit for having a successful geography bowl. The most important part of my job is to get the pizza here on time, and by the looks of things, I did OK on that.” Manzo said that each participant in the bowl receives a offer of a $500 scholarship to CU. He also expressed his thanks to State Delegate John H. Shott, R-Mercer for reading the championship round.

When it came to getting the pizza to the students, Professor Manzo’s wife, Sharon Manzo played a pivotal role. “I really enjoy hearing the students talk when they break for lunch,” Sharon Manzo said. “I heard one student say that he wished he had studied harder. It’s really a matter of diligence preparation. It’s very competitive.”

“This has been a cool experience,” Travis Boothe, 18, a senior at Shady Spring High School said during the mid-day pizza lunch in the Jerry & Jean Beasley Student Center on the CU campus.

“I like the fact that it has brought everybody from throughout the state together here at Concord. I think we did pretty good through the first part, but we still have the afternoon to go through.” Boothe plans to attend West Virginia University in the fall and major in economics.

Alyson Hehr, 18, a senior and a member of the bowl-winning Wheeling Park High School team said that she enjoys the competitive part of the bowl most of all. “I like it,” she said. “This is fun.” Hehr plans to attend Shepherd University in the fall.

Garrett McCurdy, 16, a junior at Pocahontas County High School was making his first appearance at the bowl. “It’s fun and it’s very fast paced,” he said. “I enjoy traveling and I enjoy geography.”

Jonas Knotts, an American government teacher at Webster County High School said that geography always plays a key role in world history. “Geography as a study doesn’t get it’s due,” he said. “I tell my students that geography is a driving force in factors like urban sprawl, climate change and geo-political conflicts like what we see in Korea now.”

Other schools that participated in addition to Shady Spring, Wheeling Park (the defending champion), Woodrow Wilson, Pikeview, Pocahontas County and Webster County include: Capital, Sissonville, Lincoln County, Princeton, Westside, Van, Scott, Independence, Ritchie County and Moorefield.

— Contact Bill Archer at