Weirton pupils are national champs

WEIRTON – Weirton Middle School and St. Joseph the Worker School pupils won the national championship in the 3-2-1 National Academic Challenge Competition, the first ever national championship for West Virginia in the competition.

Gifted education and advanced tier students from Weir Middle and gifted students from St. Joseph’s participated in the competition, which is sponsored by the National Academic Association. The association has sponsored competitions since 1978. The online contest is done using pyramidal short-answer questions with audio and visual elements.

There were 98 middle school teams that participated across the United States. The Weir Middle team scored 267 points to place first in the Middle School Division.

Some of the questions consisted of pictures of famous leaders of foreign countries, audio files of famous pieces of music, maps of specific cities and visual questions about famous paintings. Sample questions can be seen at

Team coach, Gifted Education Teacher Melanie Donofe was very impressed by the students on the team.

“They were able to work together well and helped each other through this new competition,” she said. “Spelling counted and there were some pretty tough answers, especially with the arts questions of famous composers and artists. But they came through very well. I’m extremely proud of all of them.”

The team will participate in the spring competition sometime in late March through early April.

Weir Middle team members included Whitney Abbott, Ryan Bodrog, Natalie Cramer, Nick D’Amico, Jimmie DiGiacinto, Jillian Dodson, Ben Fedoush, Josh Fidler, Caroline Fodor, Nathan Frank, Isaiah Glasure, Meghan Hawthrone, Brent Hinchee, Rachael Horstman, Frank Ty Hudacheck, Madison Marshall, Michael Miller, Hannah Minger, Allison Phillips, Mason Rice, William Rice, Dakota Wagner and Tyler Wright. St. Joseph’s students included Joey Garan and Gianna Mascio.