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Home News-Telegram News Ward, McKinney named top Yantis grads

Ward, McKinney named top Yantis grads

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Cory Ward and Amanda McKinney were recognized as the valedictorian and salutatorian of the 2009 Senior Class of Yantis High School, during the annual Yantis Awards Program Tuesday night at the school.

Valedictorian Cory Blake Ward is the son of Cinda Calvert and Michael Spradley, and younger brother of Kerry Calvert and Amanda Calvert. He has been active in sports and academic UIL contests at the school.

Ward is a four-year member of the golf team, which made it to the regional contest both his junior and senior year at YHS.

He’s been a very fierce competitor in math and science UIL. Last year, he won the physics UIL title at the state contest. This year, he is advancing to the state meet in science after ranking first in region in physics and second in biology. Although his fourth place individual finish in math wasn’t quite high enough to advance him from region to state, he will still get to the state math meet with the school’s math team, which placed second at regionals and advanced as a wild card team.

Ward’s math abilities have earned him admission to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a $48,550 MIT Scholarship renewable for up a total of $194,200. He also was the recipient of a $600 Texas Math and Science Coaches Association Scholarship. The latter scholarship is one of six scholarships in five UIL categories awarded annually at the San Antonio meet based on the total points each senior earns. Points are awarded on the basis of the competitor’s placement in number sense, calculator applications, mathematics and science.

These will be very helpful as he begins studying at MIT to earn a doctoral degree in math. He hopes to become a mathematician, with the goal of either becoming a professor or doing research. He’d ultimately like to work at Princeton. He’ll be rooming this fall at MIT with friend Scott Landers, a student at  Chism who also earned a large MIT scholarship and attended the STEEM program at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Ward has participated in Project STEEM at TAMU-C  for the past three years, first as a student, then as an intern/tutor and to take calculus three. June 7-July 7 he will once again participate in STEEM as a tutor for calculus 3 students. The $1,500 he earns for his participation he said will go toward other costs not covered by the MIT scholarship.

Since an aptitude for math is something he was gifted with, Ward wants to share it with others and teach in a way that gets others excited about it too. He scored 35 on science and 34 on the math ACT. He also “tested out” of algebra, precalculus, calculus I and II classes.

Ward was also selected last summer to participate in a workshop in Houston as a NASA High School Aerospace Scholar.

Two people Ward cited as really making a difference in his life have been Caleb Grisham, a graduate student he met at Project STEEM who “helped me a lot the first year” and is expected to return to the project again this year, and YHS instructor Michael Alphin, who’s been there to share Ward’s accomplishments and one of the “few I can talk to about science — and math — related things.”

Ward said he enjoys math, science and history — particularly ancient Greece and wars — as well as playing golf with his friends and watching golf, and he reads a lot in his spare time.

Amanda McKinney was honored as the YHS salutatorian. She is the daughter of Carmelita McKinney, a registered nurse at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital, and the late Ronald McKinney, who served on Yantis Independent School District board of trustees and worked for the National Security Agency when he passed away in January.

The YHS salutatorian was born in Augsburg, Germany, but had moved with her family to the United States by the time she was 4.

McKinney has also distinguished herself during her high school career at YHS as a fierce UIL competitor. McKinney was the regional champ in feature writing in both 2007 and 2008. This year she placed third in feature writing at the district meet and sixth at region. She also contributed to the science team’s overall second place ranking at district.

McKinney was accepted to Baylor University and offered a $32,000 merit scholarship to be divided over eight undergraduate semesters.

However, she said her future plans are to attend the University of Texas at Tyler, where she will major in chemistry and minor in music. She hopes to become a pharmacist and possibly teach piano on the side.

McKinney was also awarded a $1,000 Peoples Telephone Scholarship, which is based on both academic merit and character.

Also honored for earning the top ranking in their class were Corey Harrison and Samantha Dodgen.

Harrison was named the eighth grade valedictorian and Dodgen the salutatorian. Harrison is the son of Johnnie and Barbara Harrison. Dodgen is the daughter of Robert and Karen Dodgen.

They weren’t the only students recognized during Tuesday night’s awards program. This year’s senior class was introduced, and other high school and middle school students participating in UIL were also recognized and other scholarships awarded.

Rachel Spurgeon was awarded the $150 Professional Land Title Company Frankie and Glenna Jo Price Memorial Scholarship by Markeda Fisher and her sister and business partner Kayla Price. Spurgeon was also awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the Lion’s Club of Yantis.

Stephanie Hogg received a $1,500 scholarship from Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show for her part in the 2006 Fort Worth Calf Scramble. The award will be paid in increments of $500 a semester beginning the first semester she enrolls in any accredited degree plan. Hogg also received a scholarship from the Pilot Club in Quitman and a $500 scholarship from the Lion’s Club of Yantis.

The Masonic Lodge awarded scholarships to Stephanie Hogg and Daniel Cerretani.

Mike Collins also awarded Jordan Kenney, Zachary Thrasher and Raylyn Williams with $4,000 scholarships from Tyler Junior College.




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