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Merit finalists named

By Staff | Mar 3, 2010

James Morris, Christine Keplinger and Chelsea Wells

Tyler Consolidated High School’s Chelsea Wells, Christine Keplinger, and James Morris have been named finalists in the 2010 National Merit Scholarship Program. This prestigious award places them in the top one percent of all seniors across the nation.

More than 1.5 million juniors in over 21,000 U.S. high schools entered the 2010 National Merit Program by taking the 2008 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

The nationwide pool of semifinalists included the highest scoring entrants in each state. Chelsea, Christine, and James, who were named semi-finalists this past fall, were obligated to fulfill several requirements to advance to finalist standing.

They are three of about 15,000 finalists in the 55th annual scholarship program who have an opportunity to continue in the competition for about 8,200 Merit Scholarship awards, worth about $32 million, which will be offered in the next two months. Merit Scholarship awards are underwritten by approximately 500 business organizations and higher education institutions as well as by the scholarship committee’s own funds.

Chelsea Wells is the daughter of Mike and Jan Wells of Sistersville. Her honors and activities include chamber choir, National Honor Society, NHS Community Service Secretary, Exemplary Character Award, FFA, OVAC All Conference Academic Team, Governor’s Honors Academy, and American Legion Rhododendron Girls’ State. In FFA, she has produced grand champion and reserve grand champion hams and earned first place individual at the State Career Development Events in the Dairy Products category. Chelsea also participates on Tyler Consolidated’s track and cross country teams.

Her outside-school activities include attending the WV Sheriffs’ Youth Leadership Academy as a junior counselor, prelude pianist, nursery attendant, and Vacation Bible School volunteer at the Sistersville First United Methodist Church; painting at the Indian Creek Southern Baptist Church, Saturday Recess, Adopt-A-Highway, and the Olive Branch Animal Refuge and Rescue, where she also organized a very successful drive to benefit the Olive Branch.

She plans to pursue higher academics at West Virginia University and major in Veterinary Science.

Christine Keplinger is the daughter of Rusty and Paula Keplinger of Alma. Christine is a four-year member of the Knights Band, and served this year as Field Commander. In concert band, she plays French horn. Other school activities include Hi-Y, for which she is club president, reporter for TSA, vice president of the local chapter of National Art Honor Society, and member of the National Honor Society. She is a member of the West Virginia Youth Action Council. She has been accepted to play French horn in the WV All State Band and the WV Honors Recital.

Among her activities outside school, Christine is a Sunday school teacher at the River of Life Pentecostal Church of God and maintains two miles of Conaway Run Road in the Adopt-A-Highway program. She does volunteer work for Energy Express, Saturday Recess, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Salvation Army, and counseling at Youth Opportunity Camp. For the past three years, she has been the department chair for the amateur photography contest at the Tyler County Fair. She has helped organize charity drives for Blizzard Boxes, Socks for Soldiers, canned foods for local charities, and recycling aluminum to sponsor a teen in Indonesia through Compassion International.

Christine’s college choice is yet undecided, but she plans to major in Political Science and pursue a career in politics.

James Morris is the son of Mandy Morris of Reader and Sherley Morris of Leivasy, WV. He is active in Technology Student Association, winning first place in the state in Cyberspace Pursuit Website design, first place in National TSA Techbowl, and finalist in the national Electronic Game design. James has placed first in the Tyler County Math Field Day.

He has been accepted for admission to Indiana University/Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he will begin his college career before transferring to Purdue to major in Software Engineering.

It is highly unusual for any high school to have three National Merit finalists in a single year, and exceptional for a small school like Tyler Consolidated.

Counselor, Terri McCoy, said schools much larger than Tyler Consolidated do not have three National Merit finalists. “I think it is awesome that we have students such as these to be such high achievers. Schools much larger than ours do not have three finalists. We’re very proud of them.”