By HEATHER ZIEGLER
Associate City Editor
WHEELING - Some of West Virginia's most academically-talented students who just happen to also play football, soccer, run track, cross country and march in the band, were recognized Saturday morning at the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission's annual Academic Achievers Awards brunch.
Photo by Heather Ziegler
Bridge Street Middle School “Academic Achievers” representing the football team and girls track include from left, Beighley Ayers, Austin Loew, Jensen Nolte, Luke Knollinger, Shayla McFarland; back, Noah Jacobs, Michael Bator and Shane Myers. Both teams averaged a 4.0 GPA.
In keeping with the ideal - "it's all about the kids"- and in conjunction with the Super Six high school football championships held this weekend at Wheeling Island Stadium, the students, their families and school personnel were treated to the awards event sponsored by State Farm Insurance and held at Wheeling Island Hotel, Racetrack and Gaming Center.
Christine Carder, chairwoman of the event, and Dianna Vargo, superintendent of Ohio County Schools, welcomed the students, their families, principals, athletic and band directors.
Ohio County Board of Education President James Jorden said, "The Academic Achievement Awards reward and recognize the very best student-athletes and band members in the state. These students are recognized for their grade point average - the most important statistic of all."
State Farm representative Bethany Strothers-Moore, a 1998 graduate of Wheeling Park High School, banked on her own experiences as a basketball player/academic standout, to deliver a message to Saturday's award winners.
"I remember distinctly the balancing act to be a student, have friends, play sports ... We have the utmost respect for all of you and we celebrate your support system - teachers, coaches and parents." Strothers-Moore said.
She explained how in high school her father, who also was her coach, required her to shoot 50 foul shots every day, even before going out with her friends. While she didn't always agree with the work, she said years later she appreciate the life lessons her father taught her about hard work.
"You often don't know the importance of these events like today until later. Your potential is absolutely endless and it starts today," Strothers-Moore added.
The 2012 award winners included:
- Middle School/Junior High Team Awards: Bridge Street Middle School's football team won the team sport category while the Bridge Street girls' track team took the individual sport award. Both teams have a 4.0 team average GPA. Ripley Middle School, with a 3.95 GPA average, collected the band award.
- High School Team Awards: Wheeling Park High School's girls' soccer team, with a 4.0 GPA average, was the team sport winner while Park's girls' cross country team, also with a 4.0 GPA overall average, earned the individual sport award. Wheeling Park's band, with an 3.894 GPA average, garnered the band award.
Individual Middle School/Junior High School Awards:
- Josh Sabatino, Bridgeport Middle School, male athlete
- Rachel Rogers, Notre Dame Middle School, female athlete
- Alexander Altenburg, Notre Dame Middle School, male band
- Maddi Randolph, Ripley Middle School, female band
- Sanvannath Blythe, Bridgeport Middle School, community service.
The individual high school awards earned each student a $1,000 scholarship. The winners included:
- Philip Wilson, Notre Dame High School, male athlete and Fredricah Gardner, Pocahontas County High School, female athlete. They both won the scholarship established in memory of Howard V. Corcoran Jr.
- Robert Sellers, WPHS, male band member, and Bronwyn Clagett, Lincoln High School, female band member, received scholarships sponsored by West Liberty University.
- Lauren Wheeler of Notre Dame High School, community service, received a scholarship sponsored by Ogden Newspapers.
Deputy West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Chuck Heinlein, who currently is running the state Department of Education, attended the ceremony along with several former local school superintendents, WVSSAC board members and Super Six committee members led by Bernie Dolan. The Wheeling Park High School Steel Drum Band, under the direction of Jason Birch and Seth Bell, entertained.