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Exploration, inspiration mix at St. Joe fair

A little bit of inspiration, a whole lot of exploration.

The. annual St. Joseph High School Academic and Science Fair was Thursday evening at the church as it has each year for more than two decades. Students compete to hopefully win awards later in the year at the annual district science competition at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth and at the annual state science fair in Columbus.

"I think they did a great job," said Ruth Hopkins, fair chairperson. "They put a lot of time and effort in it."

Among senior high students, the best of science award went to Rian Unger for an exhibit entitled "What patterns are found in Pascal's Triangle?" The best of academics award went to Ryan Schwab, who explored the question "Was the Roman Coliseum used for naval battles?" Judges noted that Schwab "knew the answers to a broad range of questions" and showed "genuine interest" in the project.

Among junior high students, Sunni Clyse won the best of science award for her exhibit of how litter affects plant life. Judges noted Clyse's project was "excellent" and gave her high marks for creativity and originality.

Clyse said the subject was something she been very interested in for some time.

"The last two projects I did were about the environment, too," she said. "I learned about how much litter hurts the environment and then we have to pay to get rid of it, so it makes us waste money."

Anthony Whaley, Caitlyn Fout and Joseph Unger tied for the best of academics award. Whaley's exhibit, "Hitler's Germany, when good things happen in spite of bad people"

explored the ramifications of the Third Reich.

"He thought he was doing good for his country but really, he made the world suffer," Whaley said.

For Fout, the academic exhibit was a chance to connect with the past - her parent's past, to be exact: Fout's exhibit was entitled "The groovy 60s." She explored what influenced the musicians of the 1960s to produce their flower-powered hits. Fout said she liked '60s music to begin with and the project gave her a chance to learn more about it.

Would she have wanted to live during the age of Aquarius?

"Yeah,I think it would have been cool," she said.

Unger's exhibit, titled "Why was Alexander the Great so victorious?" gave him the chance to learn more about history. Judges gave him high marks for presenting "a thorough paper" and showing "a genuine interest" in his topic.

"I saw the movie about him, I thought it was a really good movie, and I saw a program on the History Channel about him. I didn't know that one of his teachers was Aristotle. He was intelligent. … I learned how he perfected some of the tactics used in battle," Unger said.

For Kayla Pyles, the fair was an opportunity to explore an aspect of her faith. The seventh-grader's exhibit was on St. Teresa of Avila.

"I didn't know a whole lot about her, really," Pyles said of her initial knowledge of the Roman Catholic saint.

But delving into St. Teresa's life left Pyles impressed.

"She influenced a lot of people, she opened convents, she was a writer," Pyles said.

Although none of it was judged, St. Joseph art students displayed their talent as well.

Teacher Kimberly Johnson said she wanted parents to see what their children's talents are and the fair is often one of the few opportunities parents have to see their children's work.