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Copley students earn D.C. trip in American Legion contest

1/30/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Zachary Varley and Grant Stouffer are shown from left, at center, with American Legion Post No. 473 Commander Michael Corathers, at far left, and Robert Burgess, Summit County commander for the American Legion.
Photo courtesy of Copley High School
COPLEY — Two Copley High School students are among a select few Ohio students to earn an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., thanks to their accomplishments on an American Legion history test.

Junior Grant Stouffer was a state finalist this year and sophomore Zachary Varley was an alternate who then got offered the chance to take the trip, according to Michael Corathers, of Norton, commander of the American Legion Post No. 473 in Copley. They are two of 18 students statewide who earned the trip, he added.

“This is a very tough competition and highly selective,” Corathers said. “My hat is off to all students who participated, and I look forward to the end-of-year awards assembly when I can recognize these winners from Copley High School for a job well done.”

Corathers said the local post administered the American Legion Americanism and Government test and essay program for several years but then put it aside.

“I became a commander last year and thought it was a great program, so we’ve been doing it again the past two years,” he said.

The test, which includes 50 multiple-choice and true-false questions and an essay question, was administered in November to students in CHS’s advanced history classes, Corathers said.

The essay question this year was: “If you were a member of the United States Congress, what would your priorities be?”

“The normal, average grade is a 60 percentile,” Corathers said. “Grant scored a 96. Everyone from the county to the district and on said it was one of the highest scores they had ever seen on the test. His essay was outstanding.”

Grant, 16, the son of David and Lisa Stouffer, of Fairlawn, was a district level finalist last year. He said he enjoys the study of history.

“History is by far my favorite subject,” he said. “It’s learning about the past and you can see how our country was formed and how that plays out in our lives today and how the legacy lives on.”

Zachary, 16, the son of Barb and Joe Varley, of Copley, was the first alternate for the trip. He said he was notified last week that one of the state finalists had a conflict and couldn’t go on the trip, so he had the chance.

“I really like history,” Zachary said. “Grant and I both do Academic Challenge, so we knew a lot about what they were asking.”

The March 3-8 trip will allow the Ohio students to visit Gettysburg, as well as historic monuments and sites in the nation’s capital, Grant said. He added he’s most looking forward to visiting the Marine Corps base at Quantico. They will be accompanied by state American Legion officials, Corathers said.

The two will miss a few days of school for the trip, but Zachary said that’s not a problem.

“I am really thrilled,” he said. “I can’t wait. It will be a little bit of work to make up homework, but definitely worth it.”

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