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Upshur County Board of Education celebrated Tuesday evening as Buckhannon-Upshur High School Student Body President John ‘Jake’ Bowman joined those who have been recognized as Upshur Stars. Jake is a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship and is being considered for the United States Senate for Youth Program. Jake also gave a report from his participation in a Zoom conference with the West Virginia State Board of Education, student leaders and some post-secondary students to discuss issues facing those transitioning from high school to college or university. Jake receives accolades and an Upshur Star from B-UHS teacher Michael Wilson, Principal Jonathon Pollock and Upshur County School Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus.

Standout student body president, fifth-grader who saved grandfather’s life awarded Upshur Stars

TENNERTON – Upshur County Board of Education members continue to learn about outstanding accomplishments of the Upshur County Schools staff, teachers, volunteers and students and congratulate those tapped as Upshur Stars.

During Tuesday’s regular BOE meeting, two new Upshur Stars were welcomed to the roster.

Buckhannon-Upshur High School Principal Jonathon Pollock and teacher Michael Wilson helped introduce B-UHS Student Body President John ‘Jake’ Bowman.

Pollock said Jake was being recognized in part for his participation in the West Virginia Student Success Leadership Council and added that there were a few surprise announcements.

Wilson said Jake is a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship.

“We are very, very proud of him,” Wilson said, adding that Jake is the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Student Body President. “He is also being considered as one of two with the United States Senate for Youth Program.”

The United States Senate for Youth Program, according to their website, is an intensive week-long educational experience and scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Senate for outstanding high school students who are interested in pursuing careers in public service. The 104 student delegates receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship to encourage coursework in government or history.

Wilson said the West Virginia State Board of Education was interested in having student leaders from across the state talk about the connection between school and college.

“So, there were students from 30 high schools along with post-secondary students who were involved in this forum which met through Zoom,” Wilson explained. “Jake was selected to be one of the 30 high school students and he is going to share some of the highlights of that forum. One of the duties Jake has from his participation in this program is to share what he learned with the local BOE.”

Jake said the subject of the forum was the transition between high school and college in West Virginia.

“One of the things they talked about was that approximately one-third of West Virginia students in grade 6 through 12 are failing at least one course this year, which is an alarming number,” Jake said. “Also, way less students are signing up for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and for the PROMISE Scholarship.”

Jake said those meeting in the forum discussed several ways to get students to sign up for these opportunities for scholarships and encourage them to graduate and apply to college.

“The West Virginia State Board of Education wants to push the campaign called ‘Texts for Success’ which allows college-bound students to sign up to receive text messages on their phones whenever there is an update or a deadline as a reminder to turn in forms,” Jake shared.

He said another idea focused on in the group was the importance of role models in education.

“Especially this year, kids are not having that much social interaction,” Jake said. “We talked about how it is even more necessary this year to encourage relationships between students and teachers that are beneficial.”

Another topic of discussion was tutoring. He said this year there are lots of extracurricular activities that are not available.

“We discussed ways for students to be able to participate in extracurricular activities to get tutoring help,” Jake said. “Another issue we talked about was how ‘easy’ this year is because of the lack of structure in instruction in class. In school or online, I am not going to lie – it gets easy to just tune out, turn off the computer and have fun. So, we discussed ways to get students more engaged in classes.”

Upshur County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said Jake is “all that they wish their students to be.”

“When he was in Union Elementary School, he was to introduce the West Virginia First Lady when she stopped by Union,” Stankus said. “I asked him to write a little introduction. His mom had to ask him to cut the introduction back because it was three pages long – he had really researched her. We are just so proud of your hard work. Congratulations.”

In a spotlight on the Upshur County Schools app, Jake is described as a student with a “stellar grade point average who takes mostly accelerated, honors and AP coursework.” It also says Jake is a Boy Scout working toward being an Eagle Scout and said he is a member of the Youth Leadership Association.

The next Upshur Star introduced to the BOE was Buckhannon Academy Elementary School Student Serenity Farrabee, who saved her grandfather, Rob Posey’s life by performing CPR when he went into cardiac arrest shortly before Christmas.

BAES Principal Susanne Britton recognized Serenity and presented her with an Upshur Star for her “calm, calculated and quick response in the face of a life-threatening emergency.” Britton said the 10-year-old, fifth grader helped save the life of her grandfather by administering CPR.

“We are so happy to have Serenity as part of our Buckhannon Academy Family,” Britton said. “She is a wonderful student, and I am sure her family is as proud of her as we are.”

Serenity Farrabee, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, is recognized for her quick action in administering CPR to her grandfather, Rob Posey, a few days before Christmas, which saved his life. Serenity received an Upshur Star and a standing ovation for her heroic deeds during Tuesday’s BOE meeting. Serenity is congratulated by BAES Principal Susanne Britton and Upshur County School Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus.

Serenity was given a standing ovation by the Upshur BOE and audience members during Tuesday’s regular BOE meeting.

Serenity thanked everyone and said she was glad her ‘Pappy’ was in attendance at the BOE meeting.

“I also wanted to thank my Nana for doing the breaths while I was doing the compressions,” Serenity said. “I want to thank my friend, Katara, who is not here, for calling 9-1-1 and helping me flip my grandpa onto his back.”

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