BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Board of Education never neglects to recognize standout teachers, staff, students and community members who school educators and administrators believe shine brightly.
Last week, during the June 15 Upshur County BOE meeting, members recognized students who excelled in the arts and math, as well as retiring instructors, the Upshur County Teacher of the Year and a community organization that helps young men succeed.
The first group to receive Upshur Stars and be recognized for their superior art abilities included Milo Baumann, Loreli Wolfe and Raymond Rammel. These students’ art has been framed and on display at the Upshur County Board of Education Office, and during the meeting, students shared a little bit about their pieces as they were returned to them.
Milo Baumann, a Buckhannon-Upshur High School exchange student from Switzerland, said he is enjoying his time in the United States and Buckhannon.
“It was a dream of mine for a long time to come to the U.S. and I have had a wonderful year here,” Milo shared.
Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said everyone was proud of Milo.
“We are making him an Upshur Star for being an exchange student during a pandemic year,” Stankus said, “and also, he qualified for the state track meet. Congratulations!”
Next, B-UHS student Loreli Wolfe received an Upshur Star. Loreli said her assignment was just to draw a skull.
“But I am really into poetry and Shakespeare, and it is inspired by a scene from ‘Hamlet’ where they are in the graveyard and he does his speech,” Loreli said.
The final art student who was recognized was Raymond Rammel. Raymond said his art assignment was about a bird.
“I decided to make a little background on it,” Raymond said. “I used pencil and added color.”
The next group of students to be recognized were some high-scoring math students.
Jody Johnson, director of federal programs for Upshur County Schools, said the first thing she wanted to do was recognize parents for their support of the students during the pandemic.
“This year we were not able to have a Math Field Day because of the pandemic,” Johnson said, “but we still wanted to acknowledge our high-flying math students and based on their STAR Math Assessment they completed, we identified, county-wide, the top three scores for grades kindergarten through 10.”
Johnson said she was proud of all the students.
“They are wonderful students and their math potential is phenomenal and that is especially exciting.”
Students receiving recognition, Upshur Stars and Sphero Mini Programmable Robots included: Kinleigh Detatmore, kindergarten at French Creek Elementary School; Lincoln Smith, kindergarten at French Creek Elementary School; Ruby Pingley, kindergarten at Hodgesville Elementary School; Brenner McCartney, first grade at Rock Cave Elementary School; Liam Rogosky, first grade at Union Elementary School; Flynn Fleck, first grade at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School; Luke Allen, second grade at Union Elementary School; Zayne Weatherholt, second grade at Union Elementary School; Kyler Baisden, second grade at French Creek Elementary School; Brooklyn Butler, third grade at Tennerton Elementary School; Jaylee Wayts, third grade at French Creek Elementary School; Brock Williams, third grade at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School; Mason Lantz, fourth grade at Tennerton Elementary School; Chance Cunningham, fourth grade at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School; Braylea Squires, fourth grade at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School; Kenton Stump, fifth grade at French Creek Elementary School; Gavin Tenney, fifth grade at French Creek Elementary School; and Sarah Coffman, fifth grade at Union Elementary School.
Those recognized for their superior math skills from Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School – who also received an Upshur Star and a Sphero Mini Programmable Robot – included sixth-graders Mason Morris, Brady Hommema and Justin Black; seventh-graders Bryce Nguyen, Tacy Pollock and Haidyn Chidester; and eighth-graders Alexis Wucher, Rebecca Wilkerson and Eli Hawkinberry.
Buckhannon-Upshur High School students receiving recognition for their high-flying math skills, an Upshur Star and the Sphero Mini Programmable Robot included ninth-graders Ryan Dowell, Elijah Mahaffey and Trevor Kiser; and 10th-graders Payton Bennett, Ian Donnen and Nathan Cornett.
The next recognition was for Upshur County School System retirees including Carol Shenuski, Beth Williams, Ronald Taylor, Denver ‘Keith’ Carr and Bryan Greene. As they were introduced, Kayla Yocum, technology/digital communication specialist, said the retirees were dedicated professionals who have given much of their time to the students, families and the community.
Beth Williams said it does not seem like it was that long ago when she was being introduced to the BOE as a brand-new teacher.
“Time has passed quickly but it has been lots of fun,” Williams said, adding she is retiring following 27 ½ years of service.
Carol Shenuski told those gathered at the BOE meeting she worked for the BOE for 46 years.
“I wish for each employee and student of Buckhannon-Upshur schools that you will have the opportunity to work together in a team kind of way and with a team kind of spirit,” Shenuski said. “That is the best thing that happened to me.”
The 2022 Upshur County Teacher of the Year, Michael Wilson, math instructor at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, presented his Teacher of the Year message to everyone. Wilson’s said he feels the key to success in the classrooms is to use the acronym ‘CARE’ to guide one’s actions. CARE stands for ‘Continually Assessing by Redirecting and Engaging.’
“In everything about our lives, we need to continually assess by redirecting and engaging in the things we are involved with, whether it is as an educator, as a parent, or someone in the workforce – we always have to look at where we have been and where we are going,” Wilson said.
“I am going to encourage us – challenge us as educators and Board Members of Upshur County – that we look at our foundations and see if the structure is strong enough to hold what we are trying to do. We may need to look at it. It doesn’t mean we have to start all over again – it may mean there are things we need to correct,” he said.
Finally, Chelsey Rogers from Home Base was recognized for her service and presented with an Upshur Star. Eddie Vincent, director of wellness and child nutrition, said members of the student body who move into Home Base benefit immensely from the program.
“I have seen more improvement from young boys when they move into Home Base in Lewis or Upshur counties,” Vincent said. “Some of those kids are taken out of really bad environments and put into a home that has some structure, some discipline and encouragement. I have seen kids make it at Home Base that I never thought would make it, and I cannot help to think what an unsung hero Chelsey Rogers is.”
Rogers said it was an honor for her to be the face of Home Base.
“I am just one of so many people who love our boys,” Rogers said. “There have been struggles and everybody here is supportive, loving, caring, compassionate, patient and understanding of my boys and where they come from and the things they are trying to do and the lives they are trying to create. Everybody in this school system is so supportive.”
Home Base is a group home and residential treatment center which has five boys from Upshur and five boys from Lewis County, Rogers explained.
“I thank Upshur County schools for everything you do for my boys,” Rogers said. “Our motto, which I think is the motto of Upshur County Schools is from Frederick Douglas – ‘it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’ I hope and pray every day, not just for my kids, but for all students and I know Upshur County does too. Thank you!”