Camden Wentz, a junior at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, performs ‘Amazing Grace’ in memory of the late Araceli Almond, wife of Upshur County Board of Education member Dr. Greenbrier Almond. He received praise for all his musical and academic accomplishments. Camden will be attending Interlochen Arts Academy Boarding High School in Michigan for his senior year.

Upshur Stars celebrated, the late Araceli Ganan Almond remembered with musical tribute at May 25 BOE meeting

BUCKHANNON – Upshur Stars filled the auditorium at Buckhannon-Upshur High School Tuesday evening as the Upshur County Board of Education members recognized students, teachers, service personnel and retirees for their accomplishments.

The first to receive accolades was cellist Camden Wentz, a junior at B-UHS. In addition to one other musical piece, Camden performed a special rendition of “Amazing Grace” at the BOE meeting, which he dedicated to the late Dr. Araceli Almond, wife of Upshur County BOE member Dr. Greenbrier Almond, who passed away May 17.

Upshur County BOE Vice-President Katie Loudin described Camden as an exciting young musician that everyone in Upshur County needs to know about.

“In 2017 at age 13, Camden went on a performance tour of central Europe with the West Virginia Youth Symphony which included Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In 2019, he attended the Eastman School of Music Cello Institute in Rochester, New York. He also founded and conducts the Upshur County Youth Symphony, where students from six different counties in West Virginia are represented,” Loudin said. “He founded the Upshur County Youth Symphony to promote classical music in the community.”

Loudin said since Camden last played for the BOE, he has been accepted into the Governor’s School for the Arts.

“He [has been] a cellist with the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra for the past two years and in a normal year, he was traveling 2.5 hours one way every Sunday afternoon in order to be able to rehearse on Heinz Hall Stage,” Loudin said. “The Pittsburgh Symphony Youth Orchestra is considered a world-class youth orchestra.”

Loudin said Camden also played cello for West Virginia First Lady Cathy Justice in February 2019 for her Create A Quarter WV contest for Valentine’s Day at the W.Va. State Museum in Charleston.

“Recently, Camden was selected into the National Youth Orchestra of Carnegie Hall – which makes him one of eight cellists in the United States to be accepted,” Loudin said. “He was accepted into the West Virginia All State Orchestra every year for the past four years. Most notably, this year, he was accepted into the West Virginia All State Orchestra as first chair cello and even second chair as double bass.”

Loudin said this past year alone, Camden earned 26 college credit hours online through Glenville State College in collaboration with B-UHS.

“This means Camden is on track to be the first student at B-UHS to receive a full two-year associate degree in general studies before graduating high school,” Loudin said. “He also took three advanced placement classes this year. However, he was most recently accepted and will be attending Interlochen Arts Academy Boarding High School in Michigan for his senior year. This is the highest profile professional boarding arts high school worldwide, according to Wikipedia. There are 550 students in grades 9 though 12, and postgraduates, attending this school from 46 United States and 32 different countries.”

Two other student groups were recognized during Tuesday’s BOE meeting and included Upshur County Student winners in the Young Writer’s Contest and winners in the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Contest.

Kayla Yocum, technology/digital communication specialist for Upshur County Schools, said some of the Young Writer’s Contest Winners were recognized at the county level and two also went to the state level where they won third place.

“Briston Herron is a second-grade student at Washington District Elementary School who was recognized at the Upshur County level for his piece,” Yocum said. Briston’s piece was called “Life Beyond the Ice.”

“We would also like to recognize Eliza Canter, fourth-grade student,” Yocum said. Eliza attends French Creek Elementary School, and her piece was called “The Oak Tree.”

Olivia Cogar, sixth-grade student at B-UMS, submitted a piece called “Silver Eyes” and Kaydence Monti, eighth-grader at B-UMS submitted her writing titled “Two Ravens and a Window.”

Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus offers congratulations and presents Upshur Stars and Apple Pens to winners in the West Virginia Young Writer’s Contest. Winners are Alivia Cogar, sixth-grade student at B-UMS; Eliza Canter, fourth-grade student at French Creek Elementary School; Kaydence Monti eighth grader at B-UMS; and Briston Herron, a second-grade student at Washington District Elementary School.

The Young Writers received an Upshur Star along with Apple Pens so they can keep writing.

“We are certainly proud of them and all of their work efforts they have put into this school year,” Yocum said.

The West Virginia Young Writer’s Contest has celebrated student writing since 1984, and the website for the contest says it grows out of a deep commitment to writing in all subjects and to the publishing, displaying and celebrating of student writing.

Finally, BOE members were introduced to the 2021 recipients of the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Award. This test is given in the eighth grade and allows the winners to be named a Knight or Lady of the Golden Horseshoe for knowledge of West Virginia history.

Eighth-grade students at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School who were winners in the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Contest for 2021 include Colton Wendling, Benjamin Atkinson, Alexander Orsburn and Kristyn Hissam. These students received Upshur Stars and were recognized for their accomplishments during Tuesday’s Upshur County Board of Education meeting. They will be dubbed as Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe during a ceremony in Charleston.

Their website said the primary goal of the program is to promote pride in West Virginia, to develop intellectual and participatory skills as well as foster attitudes that are necessary for students to participate as effective, involved and responsible citizens.

Upshur County winners of the Golden Horseshoe Award include Colton Wendling, Benjamin Atkinson, Alexander Orsburn and Kristyn Hissam. Yocum said the Golden Horseshoe Contest started in 1931 and is the longest running program of its kind in any state. Each winner was presented with an Apple Pen and an Upshur Star.

Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said the recipients know West Virginia history and will be dubbed Ladies and Knights of the Golden Horseshoe in a special ceremony in Charleston at a later date.

News Feed

Subscribe to remove popups, or just enjoy this free story and support our local businesses!