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Keyser and Shepherdstown take top spots in regional History Bowl competition | Journal-news

SPRING MILLS — Eighth-grade Keyser Middle School and Shepherdstown Middle School History Bowl teams finished first and second respectively in the regional championship on Friday and will advance to state competition in April.

Randall Reid-Smith, curator of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture, and History, was the commentator for the event and enjoyed seeing so many eighth-graders participate in a contest rich in history, especially the history of West Virginia.

In 2010, what was then the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, now the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, launched a new challenge for eighth graders to test their history of West Virginia called the West Virginia History Bowl Tournament. Teams of students from across the state compete in an academic bowl competition focusing on West Virginia’s history, literature, arts, architecture, geography, and culture.

The West Virginia History Bowl expanded in 2011 to include regional tournaments in all eight districts of the West Virginia Regional Service Education Agency (RESA).

Eighth graders in public, private, and home school programs can compete in four-person teams in double-elimination tournaments.

“What I wanted to do was make our kids proud of West Virginia. You’d be surprised how many things happened first in the state of West Virginia,” Reid-Smith told the Journal. “We’re giving away $10,000 in cash prizes.”

Reid-Smith added that all 55 counties have participated and this is the 13th competition.

The regional tournament winners and runner-up team travel to the state tournament on April 26 at the West Virginia Culture Center at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston.

Reid-Smith added that play-in tournaments have also recently become a new addition to the History Bowl. If a team doesn’t place first or second in a regional tournament, they can enter a special tournament, this year in Buchannon, and the top eight are chosen.

“They’re the best of the best,” Reid-Smith said of participants in this program and others presented by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. “The thing is, I want them to be proud of who they are, and I want them to want to contribute to the state no matter where they go or what they do,” Reid-Smith said.

“They did such a good job, and it was mostly them. I just give them the stuff, and they study. They created their own study material, it’s so impressive,” Daniel Warnick, an eighth-grade history teacher at Hedgesville Middle School, said of the team ahead of the competition.

Also ahead of Friday’s competition, Justin Mauck, an eighth-grade history teacher at South Middle School for nine years, said he was also proud of his team.

“It’s not just the story, it’s the passion for West Virginia — the difference between that story and putting it in local context,” Mauck said. “They’ve done so well this year.”

For more information or updates on the WV History Bowl, visit