Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 3, 2013

Area schools test their Mountain State savvy in History Bowl

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

GARDNER — Eighth-grade students from nine schools in southern West Virginia’s Region I, competed in regional competition Saturday in the Fourth annual West Virginia State History Bowl sponsored by the state Division of Culture and History. PikeView Middle School hosted the competition that included teams from Raleigh, McDowell, Summers, Monroe, Wyoming and Mercer counties.

Four-member teams from each school, and sometimes from the same school competed in two, 10-minute rounds that tested the students’ knowledge in many aspects of state history from pre-Revolutionary War times to current events.

“It’s pretty interesting and fun,” Nida Amir, of Park Middle School in Beckley, said. “We did a lot of studying for the bowl. We looked at all the questions online. I learned a lot about West Virginia history just by studying for this event.”

“I think it’s a lot of fun,” Seth Hall, of Crab Orchard, said. He is an eighth-grade student at Independence Middle School. “This is the first time I’ve ever competed in anything like this. I don’t care if we win or lose as long as we don’t finish last.”

Derek Hall, Seth’s dad, attended the sessions. “I have learned that I don’t know much about the state,” Derek Hall said.

“It’s a lot more fun than I thought it would be,” Jamie McClure, also of Crab Orchard, said. His son, Ryan McClure, and Seth Hall are best friends, and both competed in the bowl. “It’s a lot more fun than I thought it would be,” Jamie McClure said. “The kids seem to be having fun.”

Bryan E. Ward Jr., assistant director of archives and history, coordinates the program. “When we started this program four years ago, we only had 18 teams competing,” Ward said. “This year, we have 152 teams from 50 counties competing. The winning team and the runner-up team from this competition will have the opportunity to travel to Charleston on April 30, and compete in the finals.”

Ward and a few other moderators from the Division of Culture and History — a group that included Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith and Deputy Commissioner Caryn Gresham — popped the questions as the students worked against the clock as well as the opposing team.

“What WVU and NBA player ...” Gresham asked, but she never got a chance to finish before Jacob Young, a Park Middle School student, slammed on his buzzer. “Red. Number four.”

“Jerry West!” Young exclaimed smiling.

Lanny Okes, Young’s social Studies teacher cracked up momentarily, but regained his composure as Gresham finished the question by stating that the unidentified player in the question was the high scorer in leading East Bank High School to the state championship.

After the Park Middle School red team won the round, Okes explained why he laughed. “As we were practicing for the bowl, every time we would come to a question asking Jacob to name an individual from state history and he didn’t know the answer, he would respond by answering Jerry West,” Okes said. “I was hoping he would get a Jerry West question in this competition.”

Gene Bailey, a former state delegate, educator and long time Mercer County School Board member sat in the audience during some of the preliminary rounds. “I can answer about half of the questions,” Bailey said. “I think that’s pretty good.”

Shady Spring Middle School, Park Middle School, Independence Middle School, Sandy River Middle School, Pineville Middle School, Summers Middle School, Pikeview Middle School and Peterstown Middle School all brought two teams each while Montcalm High School brought one team to the competition.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.comž£†