By Bill Archer
For The Register-Herald
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.
Wheeling Park High School repeated as state champion, 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 West Virginia 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 an 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.
“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 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, said that geography always plays a key role in world history. “Geography as a study doesn’t get its 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.”
Schools participating were Shady Spring, Wheeling Park, Woodrow Wilson, PikeView, Pocahontas County, Webster County, Capital, Sissonville, Lincoln County, Princeton, Westside, Van, Scott, Independence, Ritchie County and Moorefield.
— Bill Archer is a writer for The Bluefield Daily Telegraph