BUCKHANNON – Most folks know Cpl. Rodney Rolenson as he has served as an officer in Upshur County for more than 26 years.
What many may not know is that for the last few months, Rolenson has taken on the position as PRO or Prevention Resource Officer at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.
Rolenson said he decided to become the PRO Officer because he loves kids.
“I had the choice to go to either the middle school or the high school,” Rolenson said. “I chose the middle school because kids at this age are still impressionable, and I felt I could make a difference here and thought it would be a better fit.”
At Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, Rolenson will be able to interact with both students and staff, one of the things he said he will enjoy the most.
“My day starts out by ensuring the students get into the school safely,” he said. “I then make sure the school is locked up and safe. Being a presence in the school is a big role of the PRO Officer – I make sure I am accessible to both students and staff.”
He said he feels his presence helps to ensure everyone feels safe.
B-UMS Principal Michael Lynch said having Rolenson at the school adds another adult who is working with the kids.
“He is visible, and he relates well to the kids,” Lynch said. “Those are the things I like the best. He has dealt with lots of issues students are dealing with in their personal lives, and he relates with those kids at that level to let them know he understands what they are going through. He is very proactive and preventative – those are two of the positives he brings here.”
Rolenson said the main thing he and the staff of B-UMS want people to know is when they send their kids to school, they are safe throughout the day.
“Whether we are preventing drugs from coming into the school or whether we are stopping a fight before it happens, whether it’s the vaping issue, we want people to know when they come to Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School they are safe,” Rolenson said. “We are very proactive – we are upgrading our camera systems with 64 new ones.”
Lynch said he is very happy that Rolenson is the B-UMS PRO Officer.
“We are different generations, but we have a lot of commonality,” Lynch said. “We have had door audits several times here at B-UMS to check for ‘Stop the Prop.’ This year of the seven or eight times the consultant has checked, we have no doors open.”
Lynch said the ‘Stop the Prop’ program is especially important because the middle school has 36 exterior doors.
The Upshur County Commission received a grant that went toward funding the continuance of the Prevention Resource Officer at B-UMS from the Division of Justice and Community Services funded by the Justice Assistance Grant, or JAG. The PRO Officer funding is part of a collaboration between the Upshur County Commission, the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department and the Upshur County Board of Education.
The purpose of the PRO Officer is to help enhance a safe environment, provide students and staff with an outlet for their concerns and as a source to help prevent incidents that disrupt the educational process.