WELLSBURG - Who was West Virginia's first governor? What was its first capitol? Do you know the West Virginia native who became the highest ranking Black American to serve in the Civil War? How about the Wirt County native whose military experiences in Iraq are the focus of the book, "I Am a Soldier, Too"?
These are among many questions being studied by two teams of eighth-graders from Wellsburg Middle School to prepare for the West Virginia History Bowl.
The eight have advanced to the state competition, which will be held April 26 at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston, after placing first and second among nine competing at the contest's regional level March 12 at Shirrard Middle School in Wheeling.
Placing first was a team comprised of Calvin Burdine, Matthew Jackson, David Postlethwait and Jessica McKee. Coming in second was a team made up of Sydney Stewart, James Rice, Austin Oldaker and Jennifer Luck.
Ironically, the second team had been undefeated until they faced the first place team in the double elimination tournament, said Ron Javorsky, their West Virginia history teacher and coach.
Javorsky said he's quite proud of both teams, particularly since they were quickly assembled just weeks before the regional competition.
"These guys worked really hard," he said, adding, "I was surprised by how much they knew."
Javosky admitted when he heard about the event, he almost passed because there wasn't much time to prepare.
It's the first year for the school to participate in the competition, which was begun last year by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
But Javorsky said he's glad he didn't pass because the students' enthusiasm has rubbed off on him. After he approached a few of his pupils, they spread the word to others who volunteered, he revealed.
Burdine, who serves as captain of the first place team, said all of the team members are friends.
Stewart, who captains the second place team, said she and her classmates were surprised to have done so well at the regional level but worked hard to prepare and are looking forward to the state competition.
Javorksy said of the eight, "I enjoy working with them. They are driven, and they are good kids," Javorsky said of the eight.
He said the two teams have used short quizzes posted on the website of the West Virginia Division of History and Culture at www.wvculture.org/history/trivia/quizindex.
The questions cover aspects of the state's history, culture, heritage, tourism and people.
Javorsky said each team member has an area in which they are well versed.
He said at least 16 teams - the first and second place winners of eight regions - are expected to compete at the state level.
Each member of the winning team will receive a $1,000 savings bond, while members of the team that places second will receive $500 savings bonds.
Like the regional contest, the state competition is a double-elimination tournament.
Each game consists of two halves. In the first, competitors must press buzzers to answer up to 30 questions over a 10-minute period. In the second, up to 30 questions are posed to teams on an alternating basis.
The following are the answers to the questions at the beginning of this story.
Arthur Ingram Boreman was West Virginia's first governor, serving from 1863 to 1869. A Waynesburg, Pa. native and Parkersburg lawyer and circuit court judge, he resigned from the governor's post to serve a six-year term in the U.S. Senate.
Wheeling was the state's first capital, having served as the location for the Wheeling Convention, which established the state. But it alternated with Charleston as capital for a while until that city became the state's permanent capital in 1885.
Charles Town native Martin Delaney, a physician, author and abolitionist, was promoted to major while serving in the Civil War, for which he also recruited black troops from Massachusetts and other New England states.
Army Private First Class Jessica Lynch was among troops captured by Iraqi forces in March 2003 but rescued by U.S. Special Operations Forces, an experience depicted in "I Am a Soldier, Too."
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)