West Virginia girl heads to 2003 Pre-Teen America competition

June 28, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

An honor roll student at Widmyer Elementary School in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., will represent West Virginia in a national scholarship competition.

Ten-year-old Chelsea Ann Hessler, a soon-to-be fifth-grader, was invited to compete as a national finalist in the 2003 Pre-Teen America Scholarship and Recognition Program in Arkansas from Thursday, July 3, through Tuesday, July 8, after winning the state title of 2002 Pre-Teen West Virginia, Jr. Division Titleholder, last September.

Chelsea, who is the daughter of Craig and Pamela Hessler, excelled in the state competition's speech and talent categories, her mother says.


"She speaks well, and she's not a bit shy," says Pam Hessler. "She has confidence - and that helps quite a bit."

Launched in 1990, the Pre-Teen American Scholarship and Recognition Program is open to girls ages 7 to 12. Participants are judged on academic achievement, volunteer service to community and church, school honors and activities, development of personal skills and abilities, general knowledge, communicative ability and onstage acknowledgment of accomplishments.

"This is not a pageant," Pamela Hessler says. "These girls come in all shapes and sizes. It really is about academics."

Chelsea had to take a test, submit two years worth of report cards and provide evidence of her personal development and civic involvement prior to competing, her mother says.

Chelsea is a member of her school's student council and peer mediation team. She received top honors at the 2003 Morgan County, W.Va., Social Studies Fair and an honorable mention at the state social studies fair. The youngster has won her county's character essay and agricultural poster contests.

At the competition, Chelsea will sing a tune from "Annie Get Your Gun" and give a speech on what freedom means. The winner of the junior category will take home a $5,000 savings bond, Pam Hessler says.

Her daughter is among nine girls from West Virginia participating in the national competition. Only three West Virginia competitors have made the semi-finals during the event's 12-year history, Hessler says.

"We hope to at least make the top 20," she says.

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