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Quizbowl competition announced

West Virginia Board of Education President Miller Hall speaks at Wednesday's announcement of a statewide academic quiz bowl competition.

Nearly 30 teams from 19 high schools will compete in a new quiz bowl competition, West Virginia education leaders announced Wednesday.

“And we already have a commitment from at least 25 more teams next year,” state schools Superintendent Clayton Burch said at a news conference. “This is exciting already.”

The state already hosts a competition for eighth-graders. Some high schools already have teams that compete in nonstate-sponsored tournaments.

This state-sponsored competition will be called the West Virginia Academic Showdown.

Marshall University will host the first regional match on Jan. 15, at Huntington’s Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Five high schools, including Logan Senior and Wayne, will compete then.

Other colleges will host four other regional competitions.

The last will be Feb. 19, at West Virginia State University’s Davis Fine Arts Center. Eight schools will compete there, including Charleston Catholic, George Washington and Sherman High.

The championship will be March 25 at the West Virginia Culture Center, on the state Capitol grounds.

The tournament will use questions from National Academic Quiz Tournaments LLC, a national quiz bowl tournament host that also provides questions for smaller tournaments across the country.

The questions will span multiple subjects, including literature, math, science, history, fine arts, philosophy and current events.

Burch said the idea started about a year ago, in state Senate President Craig Blair’s office. Blair, R-Berkeley, said he watched the long-running ”It’s Academic” high school quiz bowl show on television as a child. The show is broadcast in the Washington, D.C., area.

He said he’s pushed for this for years, since joining the House of Delegates. Now, he’s in a much more powerful position.

“I took that opportunity, one of the few opportunities as Senate president, to squeeze somebody to get something that I personally want,” Blair said to some laughs, at the news conference in Charleston.

“We’ve got our best and brightest,” he said. “We need to showcase them just like we do student athletes, OK, and it’s good for economic development.”

Ryan Quinn covers education. He can be reached at 304-348-1254 or Follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.

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