Gov. Justice and Babydog surprise three B-UHS students with full ride scholarships


BUCKHANNON — Governor Jim Justice made a surprise appearance at Buckhannon-Upshur High School Thursday afternoon to award three students with “Do It for Babydog” full ride college scholarships.

Babydog is Governor Jim and First Lady Cathy Justice’s English Bulldog, who is just over 1 year old. The Governor named Babydog the official mascot of his vaccination sweepstakes and she has quickly become one of the largest celebrities in West Virginia.

Babydog has provided brief, but much-needed moments of levity a few times over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Justice had Babydog make her first briefing appearance in the lead up to Super Bowl LV to discourage West Virginians from holding large parties for the big game, saying that there was no need because Babydog already knew what was going to happen.

Needless to say, administrators, staff and the winning students were ecstatic to hear the surprise announcements that three local youth were Round 2 winners of the governor’s vaccination sweepstakes. “This is unbelievable. I’m so glad luck has found all these students, especially now. I’m speechless,” said Mr. Jonathon Pollock, Principal of B-UHS.

The sweepstakes have already changed many lives all over the Mountain State and given opportunities to those ages 18-25 for the chance to win a full 4-year scholarship to attend any WV public institution. With the last round’s sweepstakes pull, two local students—Benjamin Currence and Jacob Dodd—both received the scholarships. This week’s drawing brings another scholarship to B-UHS student, Lilly Keith.

Benjamin Currence, B-UHS sophomore, is the son of David and Melinda Currence, of Buckhannon. Currence is looking into multiple colleges including Shepherdstown’s own, Shepherd University, to use his scholarship winnings to possibly study architecture or engineering, but the decision has yet to be made. “Winning this is absolutely crazy,” exclaimed Currence.

B-UHS senior Lilly Keith is the daughter of local art teacher Heidi Thompson and Philip Keith, of Buckhannon. She has yet to determine where she plans to use the scholarship or what she will study, but Keith said the opportunity is “amazing.”

Jacob Dodd, B-UHS sophomore, is the son of Shelly Feronti, of Buckhannon, and Fred Dodd, of Salem. Just like Keith, Dodd has yet to really think much about his future plans; however, Dodd plans to enjoy his remaining years of high school knowing that college is taken care of. “This opportunity is life changing,” expressed Dodd.

“We are so impressed that our Governor is committed to the vaccination and safety of the individuals in our state, that he is taking time from his very busy schedule to personally deliver scholarships to our students in Upshur County,” said Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus. “Having three scholarship winners at B-UHS is beyond our imagination. What a blessing to the families and students. Babydog was the superstar of the day. Thanks again to our Governor for his personal touch.”

Other scholarship winners for this drawing include Chase Donaldson, of Summersville, Mason Thompson, of Belington, Angela Watts, of Cross Lanes, and Ashlee Wilcher, of South Charleston.

There is just one week left for the Do it for Babydog Sweepstakes—will someone else from Upshur County win? Watch for future editions of The Record Delta to find out.

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