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Jefferson High School graduate crowned Miss West Virginia

July 09, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • Spenser Wempe, 18, Miss North Eastern, was crowned Friday night at the Miss West Virginia scholarship pageant, which was held at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Miss West Virginia scholarship pageant title has returned to the Eastern Panhandle after a five-year hiatus.

Spenser Wempe, 18, Miss North Eastern, was crowned Friday night at the pageant, which was held at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Wempe, who grew up in Shepherdstown and Charles Town, W.Va., will represent West Virginia at the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas in January.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Wempe said Saturday after she returned to Martinsburg, where she currently lives.

A 2010 graduate of Jefferson High School, Wempe was crowned Miss Berkeley County last year in the first pageant she ever entered and was first runner-up in last year's state pageant, said Shelley Nichols-Franklin, executive director of the Miss Berkeley County Scholarship Pageant.

"We're real excited," said Nichols-Franklin, who has led the pageant organization for 11 years.

Wempe said she was in the process of transferring to West Virginia University from Shepherd University, but now plans to take a year off from school. Her plan to major in political science at WVU is on hold, but Wempe said she hopes eventually to land a job at the State Department one day that involves international relations.

By winning nearly $10,000 in scholarships Friday night, Wempe said she expects to finish her undergraduate studies debt-free.

"It's a great incentive," Wempe said of the pageant's scholarship program.

Her platform for the state pageant competition was the Wounded Warrior Project, a national initiative to support severely injured veterans, which she believes West Virginians are particularly passionate about given the state's relatively high population of people who have served in the military. She performed a lyrical dance in the talent portion of the competition.

Wempe won the lifestyle and fitness competition in Tuesday night's preliminaries and won the evening wear category Thursday.

Before Wempe, Tiffany Lawrence was the last Eastern Panhandle winner of the state pageant title in 2006. Lawrence competed while holding the Miss Jefferson County title, Nichols-Franklin said.

Lawrence now is a Democratic representative for Jefferson County in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

The last person to hold the title of Miss Berkeley County to win the state pageant was Rebecca Porterfield in 1985, Nichols-Franklin said.

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