BUCKHANNON – In this season of thanksgiving, Upshur County Board of Education members took time to thank those who go over and above to help make the schools and community a great place to live and learn.
Upshur County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison recognized community members, students and teachers during the regular BOE meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19 at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.
Members of the BOE recognized Brian Allman who was named Milken Education Award earlier this month.
“An inspiring teacher like Brian Allman shows students how to make history even as they are studying it,” Harrison said. “Allman was presented with the Milken Educator Award, the Oscar of teaching, earlier this month.”
“There is only one winner this year from West Virginia and he is from Upshur County,” Stankus said. “I love that.”
Allman said he will travel to Indianapolis, Indiana to meet with the other 39 Milken Educator Award winners for the National Conference at the end of March, when he will formally receive his $25,000 prize.
“We like to travel, and I have been thinking about going back to school to get my doctorate,” Allman said when asked what he plans to do with his winnings. “This is definitely going to make this more feasible from a financial standpoint. I am a big proponent of education. It is one thing that cannot be taken from you.”
Next, Harrison introduced Lyndon Reinking from Fred Eberle. She said Lyndon is running for a state office for SkillsUSA.
“I currently attend the Fred Eberle Technical Center, and I am a junior at Buckhannon-Upshur High School,” he said. “I currently do welding at the Tech Center and recently went to a Fall Leadership Conference. I learned a lot of personal work skills and that got me thinking about running for a state office.”
Lyndon said in the SkillsUSA office he is running for he would represent West Virginia. For his leadership skills, Lyndon was presented with an Upshur Star.
The next Upshur Star recognized was Kelley Cartwright Tierney.
“Kelley graduated from B-UHS and WVWC with her bachelor’s degree and MBA,” Harrison said. “She was the assistant director of admission and the assistant director of financial aid. Her first State Farm Office in 1994 was in Shinnston, and she was later relocated back home to Buckhannon in 2000.”
Harrison said Tierney began her first annual soup drive in 2018, with the goal to be to provide all students using the backpack program at B-UMS with a can of soup a day during Thanksgiving Break. Harrison said rather than just being a collection spot, Tierney decided to match the donations can for can – and the first year was able to donate nearly 1,700 cans.
The 2019 soup drive added the high school as the second beneficiary, and the total cans collected was 3,667, For her efforts, Tierney was named an Upshur Star.
Vanessa Perkins received an Upshur Star for her part in the Upshur County BOE partnership with the Mountaineer Food Bank. There are approximately 1,500 backpacks that are distributed monthly to Upshur County students and a monthly drive-thru pantry program, where approximately 30,000 pounds of food is distributed to nearly 600 Upshur County families monthly. Most recently, 3,000 pieces of new clothing were distributed.
“She continuously works with our community organizations to support food drives, promote awareness and fights to end the hunger epidemic that our families face daily,” Harrison said.
Next, Kenna Leonard received an Upshur Star for helping Vanessa run the B-UMS backpack program and help draw attention to the hunger problems for Upshur County children.
“They helped implement the after-school snack program at the middle school,” Harrison said. “This year, they aided in the partnership between the Mountaineer Food Bank, Upshur County schools and various community volunteers that provide food once a month for Upshur County citizens in need. Through this partnership the county received a clothes donation that they sorted and helped distribute.”
Buckhannon Academy Elementary School physical education teacher Dan Hepler and Dustin Carlyle both were recognized for their efforts and received an Upshur Star.
Harrison said Hepler applied for and was awarded a grant from the Strider Education Foundation which allowed for 22 bicycles and helmets as well as the Strider Learn-to-Ride curriculum for Buckhannon Academy Elementary Students.
Carlyle was commended for his commitment to his students and his school for a schoolwide fundraiser that raised approximately $8,550. Harrison said students at Buckhannon Academy in grades 2 through 5 were treated to a WVU trip experience, complete with cosmic bowling and running and playing football on Mountaineer Field with some of the best college athletes WVU has to offer.
“Students were treated to a walking tour of the game farm and students also enjoyed other activities including a girl’s trip to Hollywood Nails and a trip to Jesterline Gaming Center,” she said. “Carlyle not only gave students memories that they will treasure for a lifetime but donated over $4,920 to the Buckhannon Academy PTO.”
Next, Sarah Critchfield and Beverley Miller were recognized for their pre-K classroom activities at Buckhannon Academy.
“Step into Ms. Critchfield’s and Ms. Miller’s pre-k classroom and it will seem like it’s been around forever and that these two special ladies have worked together for years, but this is the first year for an in-house pre-K program at Buckhannon Academy. Ms. Critchfield and Ms. Miller are to be congratulated on a job well done for building the pre-K program and classroom from the bottom up and for their tremendous efforts toward student success and daily teamwork. They truly play an important part in building the Buckhannon Academy culture,” Harrison said. “Thank you, so much, ladies!”
Buckhannon Academy students recognized as Upshur Stars include Miley Tallman, Rachel Howard, Bailee Lowther and Landon Cole.
Miley is a third-grade student in Ms. Tenney’s class, and she recently learned her colorful, creative entry in the State Fire Marshal’s Calendar Contest was selected as one of the 12 that will be featured in the 2020 calendar. Miley’s entry was one of 75 from around the state.
Rachel, a fifth-grade student in Mrs. Carpenter’s class, was awarded an Upshur Star for going above and beyond her student duties. Harrison said Rachel helped a younger BAES student riding the school bus make a transfer at the middle school.
“Rachel always makes sure that the younger student gets on and off the right bus and arrives to and from school safely,” Harrison said. “Thank you, Rachel, for taking care of our younger student and stepping up to be a responsible leader.”
Bailee Lowther, a fifth-grader in Ms. McGee’s class, and Landon Cole, a fourth-grader in Ms. Hines’s class, were recognized not only for their classroom success, but also for being terrific spellers.
“Bailee and Landon grabbed first place in their grade level in the BAES Spelling Bee,” Harrison said. “They out-spelled all their classmates and came out on top. BAES is excited to have them represent their school.”
Also during Tuesday’s BOE meeting, B-UHS Girls Softball Coach Levi Bender and player Kyndra Spotloe acknowledged the BOE.
“Recently, we have started building the softball field and you all voted to help support us,” Bender said. “We would like to recognize you for that.”
The group handed out cards to board members thanking them for supporting the softball field. Bender showed photographs of the items finished for the field, including the new concrete pad by the right field; the wall with the walkway to the away stands and away dugout; and the dugout that is halfway built.
Bender said they really appreciate the help and hopes to see the board members out for the games in the spring.