For Immediate Release: June 16, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Students from two West Virginia schools have been named state winners of Esri’s fifth annual ArcGIS Online Competition for U.S. High School and Middle School Students. A team of seventh graders from Barboursville Middle School in Putnam County and a team of students from Ritchie County High School created story maps describing locations that range from top colleges to dirt tracks, and from historical buildings to paranormal sites all in West Virginia.

West Virginia students in grades 4-8 and 9-12, along with 500 students from other participating states, completed research projects focused on their states and presented the results online as a story map. Students or teams submitted projects at the school-level before those winners were sent to the state. Esri presented awards to the top ten projects submitted by West Virginia. Complete results of the competition are available here:

This year’s middle school winners all attend Barboursville Middle School in Barboursville, W.Va. The winners are Harper Armentrout, Ram Balasubramanian, Kanon Dillon, Gaby Robertson, Alexis Baisden and Peyton Perkins. These students learned story mapping under the direction of the teacher, Molly Fisher, whose students are second-time winners. All high school student winners attend, or recently graduated from Ritchie County High School. They are Soffi Bee, Jillian Schimmel, Brady Layman, Jeremy Darnold, Kylie Daniels, Breanna Means, Jacob Easton and Riley Gribble. Teacher Samantha Lamp taught her students story mapping for the first time this year and her students exceled.

The Esri story map competition gives students an extra opportunity to use geographic information system (GIS) software from Esri, offered free to every K-12 school and formal youth club for instruction. After learning basic skills in class, they work on their own to find or create data, integrate layers and analyze relationships, and present their findings in a “Story Map” or web application. The national prize, for one high school and one middle school project, is usually a trip to Esri’s Education Summit and User Conference in San Diego, California, for the student, a parent, and the teacher, in early July. This year, due to COVID-19, this conference will again be held virtually.

“This contest allows students to use a cutting-edge GIS technology to tell a story that is important to them. When our students are interested enough in a subject to want to put in the extra time required to participate in a contest like this, we know they are engaged. When our teachers use GIS in the classroom, they bring context and meaning to the content they are teaching students,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “We continue to be impressed with the level of innovation our school communities bring to this annual competition.”

The West Virginia Department of Education coordinates this annual state-level contest in West Virginia in cooperation with Esri and the Education Alliance. GIS technology is available for free to every teacher and student in West Virginia by visiting

For more information, contact Christy Day, Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or

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