TENNERTON – A portion of each Upshur County Board of Education meeting is dedicated to recognizing and thanking students, teachers, staff and volunteers for their high achievements and their dedication to helping others in Upshur County.
Tuesday’s BOE meeting fell on the day before Veterans Day, so thanking area veterans was a top priority.
Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus asked any veterans present to stand and be recognized. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Buckhannon-Upshur High School Senior and Future Leaders Program member Michael Coleman.
First Sgt. Jim Gregory, retired, talked about the Future Leaders Program at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. He thanked Stankus, BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples and members of the BOE for allowing him to speak and for adding the FLP at B-UHS.
“First of all, most of you recognize the table on your way in,” Gregory said. “We refer to that as the White Table, which originally represented POWs and MIAs. Everything on the table has a reason for being there, and I encourage you to stop by and read the plaque which explains all the symbolism of the items there.”
He went on to say that now, the table not only represents POWs and MIAs, but also means a lot to those who did make it home and made it back.
“For me, as a veteran, it means a lot,” he said. “This time of year, and tomorrow especially (Veterans Day) I encourage you to think about your veterans and that you are allowed to have this meeting here and are allowed to have this beautiful school and all that we have in this country because somebody died for it. That is important for us to remember.”
Gregory thanked Angie Westfall for assembling the White Table.
Next, Gregory spoke about the FLP.
“We have great young folks in the program,” he said. “It is unique, broad and diverse. We go from map reading to public speaking to finance. We have four pillars in the program – citizenship, leadership, life skills and military science. The program is based off all those things, and we use proven military ways of educating and teaching to get our point across. We have 12 schools across the state that the program is in.”
BOE Member Dr. Greenbrier Almond thanked veterans for their service and he recited the poem, “In Flanders Fields.”
Kayla Yocum, from the Technology Department, announced the Buckhannon-Upshur High School teachers who are Schoology completers.
Those include: Sloan Baisden, Tiffany Board, Shelley Bright, Cheryl Cain, Nichole Cerullo, Ann Clem, Alisa Compton, Codey Cutright, Jamie Davis, Mindy Dawson, Christy Dean, Tracey Fluharty-Godfrey, Garrett Friend, Delana Golden, Sherry Holley, Edwina Howard-Jack, Crystal Jones, Jill Kelley, Karen Leigh, Mike Lemley, Samantha Leput, Jennifer Lilly, Casie Linger, Michael Meadows, Laura Meese, Mary Miller, Natalie Nelson, Keith Nichols, Leann Nutter, Judith Payne, William Plymale, April Ramsey-Boyce, Cheryl Reger, Neil Reger, Randy Revels, Danielle Rexroad, Nickol Reynolds, Terri Sisk, Jeremiah Smallridge, Charles Smith, Deborah Smith, Paula Smith, Jessica Snyder, Adam Squires, Taylor Stacy, William Stalnaker, Carrie Stark, Jennifer Swift, Bridgette Tenney, Heidi Thompson, Amy Travise, Patricia Wager, Sarah Wamsley, Angie Westfall, Jessica Williams, Jodee Wilt and Jackie Zuliani.
Stankus thanked those teachers who completed the Schoology training, saying they all went over and above what was expected of them.
“It is so spectacular to have this many people in the school who completed the Schoology training,” Stankus said. “Thank you, again.”
The next Upshur Star recognized was a senior student at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. First Lady Melania Trump revealed her new art exhibit, “Building the Movement: America’s Youth Celebrate 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage Exhibit” and Buckhannon-Upshur High School student Emily Adams was present to see her artwork showcased.
The project honored the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment and the Suffrage Movement with artwork from students across the country.
Emily said going to the White House was really ‘spectacular.’
“Just meeting the First Lady and getting to speak with her about my artwork and shake her hand was like a dream,” Emily said. “It was amazing. She told me she wanted me to keep doing this (art) because this is one of the best pieces here. That made me so happy to hear that from someone with great power and status like her.”
Emily said the piece she did was a portrait of Coralie Franklin Cooke, who was born a slave in West Virginia.
Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus presented Emily with an Upshur Star and thanked her for representing West Virginia, Upshur County and B-UHS.
Next to receive recognition was Nicky Smith from Rock Cave Elementary School. Yocum read that “Upshur County is fortunate to have teachers that go above and beyond for the youth,” Yocum said. “Smith is encouraging, happy, kindly authoritative and givingly available. The love and support she offers should not go unnoticed because everything she does is full of energy and smiles.”
Smith said she feels relationships are key and when teaching went remote, she kept making contacts to keep teacher-student relationships going.
“When kids are not in our rooms, they need to know we are still there for them,” Smith said.
The final recognition was for Dr. Susan Aloi, health program officer with the Pallottine Foundation.
Stankus said Aloi and the Pallottine Foundation were being presented an Upshur Star for all the Foundation does to help Upshur County students.
“We would not have been able to run our buses this summer without the grant we received from the Pallottine Foundation,” Stankus said. “Our backpack program, food going home to any child who needs food on the weekend, is because of our partnership with the Foundation. For you and all you do for our community and all the Foundation does to help us, we thank you.”
During the Local School Improvement Council portion of Tuesday’s BOE meeting, B-UHS Principal Jonathan Pollock said B-UHS had set a graduation rate goal of 90 percent and said in 2020, the graduation rate at B-UHS was 93.26 percent. Pollock said for 2021, the goal for graduation rate at B-UHS has been set at 95 percent.
The next regular meeting of the Upshur County BOE will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17 at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.