W.Va. Students Participate in National Academic Challenge

Posted: June 16, 2008
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Two West Virginia students have earned national recognition by capturing first place awards from The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, a program for highly gifted elementary and middle school students.

Viraj Mehta, a seventh grader from Wheeling, and Jacob Essig-Beatty, an eighth grader from Lewisburg, achieved Top in State honors by taking the SAT as part of center’s 2007-2008 nationwide academic talent search. The talented middle schoolers were two of 24,000 seventh and eighth graders nationwide to take the SAT or ACT – the same tests taken by college-bound juniors and seniors – through Center for Talented Youth this year.

“Viraj and Jacob earned their place at the very top of this group, which is an extremely impressive achievement considering that only gifted students take the test in the first place,” said Lea Ybarra, executive director of The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. “These students possess an academic fearlessness, combined with the desire to learn and achieve. Not only will their enthusiasm for learning benefit them, it will benefit their entire generation, for these students will be the leaders, thinkers, and doers of tomorrow.”

Mehta and Essig-Beatty were among nearly 60 high-scoring West Virginia students in second through eighth grade to be honored at a recent ceremony in Charleston. The students earned scores in the top 25 percent of all elementary and middle school students taking the SAT, ACT, the School and College Ability Test (SCAT) or the Spatial Battery Test (SBT). By participating, students can qualify for residential summer programs, online classes and family academic programs.

“The entire West Virginia school community – students, parents, teachers and administrators – should be extremely proud of all the students and their performance on these tests,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “When we make academics a priority, the result is engaged young people who will be well prepared for the 21st century.”

Since 1979, the center has sought the most academically able elementary and middle school students each year and encouraged their enrollment in center’s annual fall Talent Search. Nationally, 63,000 students participated in this year’s search.

For more information, see www.cty.jhu.edu or contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.

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