West Virginia first lady honored to meet the Queen

May 08, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia first lady Gayle Manchin was in Jefferson County on Monday, talking about her experience meeting Queen Elizabeth II and praising an after-school academic program started in Jefferson County 10 years ago.

The first lady and Gov. Joe Manchin were invited to the Williamsburg, Va., area when Queen Elizabeth II visited there Friday as part of the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown.

Gayle Manchin said she and her husband were included in the festivities because West Virginia was once a part of Virginia.

Gayle Manchin said she and her husband were briefed on how to approach the queen, and their car had to be searched with dogs to make sure there was no threat to the queen.


"There was a tremendous amount of security," Manchin said at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, where she was attending an awards banquet for Project Excel Inc.

When she met the 81-year-old queen, Manchin said she appeared to be in very good shape and spoke with a strong voice.

"She's a remarkable lady. It was certainly a great honor to meet her," Manchin said.

Gayle Manchin was the keynote speaker for the 10th annual awards banquet for Project Excel, an after-school tutoring program that was started by the Rev. Ernest Lyles.

Project Excel began as a way to identify bright minority students in the county in hopes of getting them to attend college. Project Excel is open to any student, and the program is offered at three elementary schools and one middle school in the county, according to Lyles.

When it started, the program was offered to Shepherdstown Elementary students, said Lyles, adding that Project Excel has served more than 200 students.

"We promote early intervention. They start coming to us at preschool," Lyles said.

Manchin praised Project Excel, saying the academic program also exposes students to subject areas they may not have time to study in school, such as photography.

Project Excel is funded by the state Department of Education, the Jefferson County Commission and Ecolab in Berkeley County, Lyles said.

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