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Upshur County Schools administrators brainstorm about new career, technical opportunities for local students

BUCKHANNON – Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus and assistant superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison recently spent the day in the state capital brainstorming about ways to offer additional career and technical education opportunities to Upshur County students.

During Monday’s statutory meeting of the Upshur County Board of Education, Stankus and Harrison said they’d spent the day in Charleston with Dr. Kathy D’Antoni from the State Division of Technical and Adult Education.

“We were talking about the exciting possibilities for Upshur County in career and technical education,” Stankus said. “After talking with folks who gathered for the Upshur Next meeting and finding out what the community wanted in regards to career and technical education, we set up the meeting with Dr. D’Antoni, and we have a lot of very exciting possibilities.

“We spent nearly two hours on the phone when coming back, setting up more meetings. We are really excited about the possibilities.”

BOE member Dr. Greenbrier Almond referenced the graduation at the Fred Eberle Technical Center, noting it was packed with students who had successfully completed the programs and their parents.

“Kids want this type of education,” Almond said.

Stankus agreed with Almond, saying students are looking for training in aeronautics, medical trades and other fields.

“We talked about this in our ‘Portrait of an Upshur County Graduate’ and ‘Upshur Next’ meetings,” Harrison said. “If we really look at what students need, we can teach them all of the basic academics and get them excited about coming to school as well as preparing them for a future that will allow them to make a really good living while staying home in Upshur County.”

Harrison said Dr. D’Antoni has wonderful ideas and knows where to go to help fund these types of education for the students.

“We are also going to meet with the president of Pierpont Community and Technical College to look at some opportunities there,” Harrison said. “We have a conference call scheduled with the new president of Glenville State College. We’re going to be looking at some of the things we might be able to do at Buckhannon-Upshur High School related to perhaps a branch campus. We have lots of good thoughts.”

BOE Vice president Katie Loudin will continue to serve on the Upshur County Parks and Recreation Board for a two-year term. Members voted unanimously to continue Loudin’s appointment to the board.

Upshur County Schools Clerk of the Works for projects on the schools, Scott Preston, provided an update about work on Hodgesville Elementary School. He said the Hodgesville project is a renovation and addition to the school and is in week three. He said the Tennerton project – which includes earthwork, drainage and a little bit of foundation work – was awarded last week to Dan Hill Construction Company. The bid was $156,000, and he said the start date has not been determined.

A memorandum of understanding to employ an orientation and mobility specialist with Barbour, Doddridge, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Randolph and Taylor counties was approved unanimously. Stankus said the person in this position will work with students who are visually impaired.

“This person travels – it is such a specialized field, and the person travels to the different counties and works with students who are identified as visually impaired,” Stankus said. “This is an agreement similar to what we had when RESAs were here. Different counties took different responsibilities, and we were designated as the county to manage the orientation and mobility specialist.”

The orientation and mobility specialist lives in Buckhannon.

The next regular meeting of the Upshur County BOE is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday July 23 at the Board of Education Office. During that meeting, BOE members will have a presentation about the possibility of reintroducing the D.A.R.E. program.

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