Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 8, 2014

Geography bowl: W.Va. high school students compete in statewide contest at Concord


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

 —  For the past 12 years, the Geography Department of Concord University has been putting West Virginia on the map with the statewide Geography Bowl.

“Geography is one of the liberal arts majors that puts people to work,” Professor Joe Manzo said. Manzo is a professor of Geography at CU, co-coordinator of the West Virginia Geographic Alliance and chair of the annual Geography Bowl. “We place our people in jobs before they graduate.

“Geography is not only a liberal arts degree, but it is also career-oriented,” he said. Maybe half of the people at Region I Planning have geography degrees. Marshall, West Virginia and Concord are the only schools in the state with Geography programs, and graduates are in demand for many occupations.”

Students from 15 high schools from throughout the Mountain State participated in the Geography Bowl.

“I think it needs to be said that Joe Manzo treats these kids like kings and queens,” Bobby Miller of Madison said. He brought the team from Scott High School in Boone County to the competition. “He put us up at Pipestem last night, fed us a great breakfast and provided pizza for lunch.”

In addition to Scott, other participating high schools included Wheeling Park, Sissonville, Capital, George Washington, Independence, Morefield, PikeView, Princeton, Shady Spring, Woodrow Wilson, Van, Lincoln County, Webster County and Pocahontas County.

“They came by school bus and they came by private vehicles,” Manzo said.

“One group drove up in a huge, white stretch limousine,” Sharon Manzo, Joe’s wife said.

“This is a great opportunity to learn more about the world,” Kendyl Ryan, a senior at Scott High School said before entering the final team competition of the day. She plans to attend Marshall University in the fall and major in public relations and broadcast journalism. It was her first visit to the Geography Bowl.

“This is my fourth year here and I think it’s great,” Ikie Brooks, also a senior at Scott said. “Concord really takes good care of you and you learn so much about geography — not just in your studies to prepare for the competition, but in every session you’re in.”

Woodrow Wilson High School brought a brother and sister team — Elizabeth and Matthew Koh — to this year’s competition.

“I’ve been here every year since I was in ninth grade,” Matthew Koh said. “You learn so much every year. It’s a wonderful event.” Matthew is a senior.

Elizabeth Koh is a sophomore, and this was her first time at the Geography Bowl. “I just think it’s a great experience,” she said. Both Matthew and Elizabeth said they hope to pursue careers in the medical field.

“We have some of the same schools, but Capital is new this year,” Joe Manzo said. “George Washington and Wheeling Park are creating quite a rivalry, at least partially because Wheeling Park won it so many times.

“The kids all have a good time, and we make sure they have plenty to eat,” Manzo said. “Mercer County Circuit Court Judge Omar Aboulhosn is our reader for the finals this year, but we have plenty of volunteers from the community who read questions too. Even our Mayor Carol Bard, is a volunteer reader this year.”

George Washington earned first-place honors in this year’s Geography Bowl with Woodrow Wilson earning second place and Wheeling Park coming in third.

“The competition was very close this year,” Sharon Manzo said.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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