The West Virginia Division of Culture and History created an exciting challenge for eighth grade West Virginia history students about eight years ago called the West Virginia History Bowl Tournament.
Students from across the state compete in teams of four, and this year, Cameron High School brought home the championship trophy for the third time.
Preparing for the West Virginia History Bowl tournament actually begins in seventh grade.
That is when students will travel to the state tournament to watch their eight grade peers compete and decide if they want to compete next year.
Once in eighth grade, they will study West Virginia history until they know it like the back of their hands.
“We studied after school and during school and at home a lot,” said Montgomery Bertram.
“That’s all we did: eat, sleep, and study,” added Abbi Carney.
“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication because you needed to be willing to give up your time to study,” said Arielle Yost.
This year’s eighth grade class had two teams of four, one of which brought home the state championship to Cameron for the third time.
Montgomery, Abby, Arielle, and Russell Dillon all decided to get involved for different reasons, but they say they are proud to represent their school as a team.
Their coach, West Virginia history teacher Dan Gatts, says it is not just about memorizing dates and facts. The students also grow to understand where they come from and where they can go.
“They learn about people who came from small towns like Cameron that came to be famous musicians or artists or athletes. They like to see people like them can grow up to be somebody important and maybe one day be a question of their own,” said Gatts.
The students are also learning what it is like to be a role model.
About 20 seventh grade students have already shown interest in competing next year.