First Lady visits Berkeley County to kick off expansion of Communities in Schools program

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – First Lady Cathy Justice visited Berkeley County today, to kick-off the expansion of the Communities in Schools (CIS) program. Berkeley County Superintendent Manny Arvon and Curator for the Department of Arts, Culture and History Randall Reid Smith joined First Lady Justice to celebrate the expansion of the program that aims to forge community partnerships and bring resources into schools to help remove barriers to student learning.

The national CIS model recognizes that traditional education reform strategies fail to address what kids are dealing with every day: poverty, lack of adult role models and the absence of such basic needs as food, shelter and health care. CIS is designed to reduce dropout rates by connecting at-risk students to community resources such as food and clothing, counseling, family engagement, life skills and physical health needs – all with the goal of keeping them in school.

Under First Lady Justice’s leadership, beginning this school year, CIS has expanded into three counties throughout the state including Berkeley, McDowell and Wyoming.

“I am thrilled to promote this program to help our students graduate high school and provide any resource necessary to make that happen,” Justice said. “Our goal is to have a 100% graduation rate of students in this program and together, I believe we can make sure our students have the tools they need to succeed.”

State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Paine emphasized the importance of going beyond high school to students in attendance.

“Through this program, we want to make sure students have the opportunity to achieve their goals,” Paine said. “I hope each student thinks beyond high school graduation, whether that be obtaining a two-year degree, an industrial credential or a four-year degree,” he said.

One hundred and forty-four students from four schools in Berkeley County are participating including Martinsburg North Middle School, Martinsburg South Middle School, Eagle Intermediate School and Orchard View Intermediate School. All students participating in the CIS program in Berkeley County along with their parents were invited to today’s event, which included a pep rally and luncheon.

“Thanks to the leadership of West Virginia’s Governor and First Lady, Communities In Schools is poised to serve more students than ever before throughout the state,” Communities in Schools CEO Dale Erquiaga said. “No matter what challenges they face, students can count on Communities In Schools to find resources that help unlock their potential, stay in school, and ultimately succeed in life.”

For more information, contact Kristin Anderson at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or



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