School of Pharmacy Direct Admit Pathway (DAP) student Brennan Lawless is off to a fast start as a West Virginia University freshman. The Daniels, West Virginia, native recently won a National History Day award.

Lawless finished second in the nation for his individual documentary “Books, Bombs, and Barricades: The Kanawha County Textbook War and West Virginia’s Role in the Rise of Educational Conservatism.”

In the documentary, Lawless explores the conflicts among parents and their beliefs as well as the leaders from both the pro- and anti-textbook forces. It also discusses the violence that ensued as a result of the adoption of controversial books.

“I decided to compete in documentaries because I think that they are the most effective way of connecting the audience with the raw emotion of the event that you’re explaining, and giving them both sides of the story,” said Lawless. “When they announced my name, I felt numb. I was so excited! An entire year’s worth of work had finally paid off.”

Eighteen high school and middle school students from Calhoun, Raleigh and Jefferson counties in West Virginia competed at National History Day in College Park, Maryland, June 11-13. More than 3,000 students from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Central America, China, Guam, Puerto Rico and South Asia presented papers, exhibits, documentaries, websites and performances on historical topics pertaining to the theme “Conflict and Compromise.”

To qualify for the national competition, the West Virginia students first competed at the state affiliate National History Day competition, hosted by the Department of History, WVU Libraries and the West Virginia Department of Education in April 2018.