Brooke students ready for social studies competition

WELLSBURG – Several students will represent Brooke High School today in a state competition judging their research into topics ranging from the Battle of the Bulge to the national debt.

Eleven Brooke students will participate in the West Virginia Social Studies Fair and National History Day competition after placing first in six divisions of the Regional Educational Service Agency 6 Social Studies Fair held March 23 in Paden City.

Greg Rothwell, their advisor, said each year the competition challenges students to research subjects in economics, political science, state and local studies, U.S. history, world history, anthropology, geography, political science, psychology, sociology and international affairs.

Whether working alone or in teams, they are required to deliver presentations on their findings before a panel of judges. Those in teams must each speak during the presentation as well as contribute information for it.

Advancing to the state competition in Charleston are:

Shelby Wade, who placed first among individual competitors in the Economics category for her presentation, “Money Can Grow on Trees,” which considered the economic impact of legalizing recreational marijuana use.

Cassidy Bland, Ryan Mezan, Jackson Carey, Seth Miller and Justin Taflan, who placed first among groups competing in the Economics category for a presentation titled, “The National Debt: A Solvable Problem.”

Jackson Boyce, who placed first in Political Science, for “Natural Gas Drilling: Taming the Flame.”

Kylie Greathouse, who placed first in State and Local Studies for “The Early Glass of Brooke County.”

Brice Hickey, who placed first in World History, for “The Battle of the Bulge.”

They were among 85 presentations made by 121 students at the regional competition.

Rothwell said the students chose the subjects of their presentations, though he sometimes suggested they narrow them to prevent their area of study from becoming too broad for a short presentation.

For her presentation, Wade researched the economic impact of legalizing recreational marijuana use. She stressed she doesn’t condone marijuana use but became interested in the subject after reading an article in Time magazine about the economic impact of its legalization, with restrictions, in Colorado.

Mezan said his team’s decision to consider solutions to the national debt was a timely one as there was much news about Congress and the Fiscal Cliff when they prepared it in January.

Teammate Miller said each member developed a proposal but ultimately the team decided on one that includes eliminating the North American Free Trade Agreement, raising tariffs, decreasing dependence on foreign oil and making cuts to social programs.

Hickey said he has always been interested in World War II and chose the Battle of the Bulge for his subject because his girlfriend’s great-grandfather, Duane Griffin, served in the battle.

Griffin, who was awarded a Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained, talked to him about his experiences as well as loaning him two books on the battle and an Army cap he used in the presentation.

Rothwell said two other entries came close to qualifying for the state competition.

A presentation by James Harrick and Devon Ansell placed first in the World History category but fell short by just one point needed to qualify, he said.

The pair’s presentation was on “The Importance of S.A.L.T.,” or the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks of the Cold War. They said they wanted to show how the talks affected the production of nuclear arms and searched for a while for records of arms produced over the talks’ 20-year period before finding them on a government website.

A presentation on “Rosie the Riveter” by Lauren Shelton and Emily Hone placed second in the U.S. History category.

Rothwell said all of the students are seniors and juniors. Some, but not all, are his students, and those who are in his classes received extra credit for their presentations.

Boyce, Mezan and Miller all placed first in their respective categories at last year’s regional competition, and Carey received an honorable mention.

Rothwell said the contest offers an excellent incentive for students to explore important issues in the realm of social studies of special interest to them and that may not be covered in their courses.

(Scott can be contacted at