BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County School System contains a galaxy of students, teachers and staff who shine, and during Tuesday’s BOE meeting, members continued to recognize more Upshur Stars.
Jordan Brown was the first shining Upshur Star recognized at the BOE meeting. Jordan is one of the West Virginia State Young Writers Contest winners.
“Congratulations,” Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said. “You were third place in the state for the Young Writers Contest.”
BOE member Kristi Wilkerson read a letter from Jordan’s teacher, Cheryl Cain.
“Jordan has worked so hard throughout the year becoming a much more relatable and articulate writer,” Wilkerson read. “His work is always impressively expressive and artfully a reflection of his own voice.”
Jordan said his winning piece was about how people love things and don’t want to let go of things.
“It was about when we love, we tear things down,” Jordan said.
Jordan attends Buckhannon-Upshur High School and is in ninth grade.
BOE members recognized the Golden Horseshoe winners, who are in eighth grade at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. Winners have not yet traveled to Charleston to become Knights of the Golden Horseshoe but will before the end of the school term.
Winners include Bryce Cayton, Nathan Cornett, Ian Donnen and Lakoda Lantz.
“These young men are soon to be Knights of the Golden Horseshoe,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr Debra Harrison. “The Golden Horseshoe Contest is one of the highlights of the eighth-grade year. It is a very prestigious award and a very difficult test to take. These guys are to be highly commended for their success in being awarded the Golden Horseshoe.
“I am very proud, their parents are very proud, and Upshur County Schools are very proud of your accomplishment.”
Harrison was named a Lady of the Golden Horseshoe when she was in school.
The third Upshur Star Award was presented to Camden Wentz for musical achievement. Camden is a member of West Virginia Symphony Orchestra who is the first-chair cellist. There are three levels in the symphony, and Camden is performing at the highest level, which is amazing since he has only been playing cello for three years, BOE vice president Katie Loudin said.
He is a freshman at B-UHS.
Loudin said Camden recently sent a video audition for the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony and was invited to go in for a live audition. He has organized and conducts the Upshur Youth Symphony, which includes musicians from neighboring counties.
“We are so proud of you,” Loudin said.
Following the award, Camden performed two movements from Bach.
The final Upshur Star Award was presented to Hunter Sawyers. Hunter received $1,000 and his classroom will receive $500 for art supplies.
B-UMS Art Instructor Virginia Hicks said his work was sent to a show in Parkersburg by the West Virginia Art Educators Association. He was awarded best of show. His artwork then went on to the West Virginia Department of Education ArtsAlive Showcase in Charleston, where he was awarded Best in State for grades K-12.
Also, during the BOE’s recessed meeting from March 12, members voted unanimously to approve the levy rates, after having received approval from the State Tax Department and the West Virginia Department of Education. The levy rate will remain the same as last year, meaning it will not cause an increase in taxes.
BOE members also met early Tuesday morning for a budget workshop. On Tuesday, Stankus and Upshur County Schools Business Manager George Carver said one accomplishment of the workshop is a balanced budget for the 2019-2020 school year.
“We are waiting for the West Virginia Legislature to finish their work on the education budget, so we are in limbo,” Carver said. “We are going to have to estimate because our budget has to be completed by May 30, and the Legislature will not be meeting again until July.”
Carver said they are pleased to see an increase in local tax revenues.
“I think we are moving in the right direction and we will continue to do so,” he said.
“We thank the community for their support through the levy and allowing us to do the things we need to do for the children,” Stankus added. “There are a lot of great things going on in Upshur County.”
Upshur County Youth Football Coach Keith Wolverton addressed BOE members during the public comment portion of the meeting. He thanked Upshur County Schools for its help but asked if there could be a field where the teams, comprised of approximately 100 players and 30 cheerleaders, could practice throughout the week.
Wolverton said the high school field works perfectly for their Sunday games, but he said he needed a space where all three teams and cheerleaders can practice on weekdays – one that provides room for parents to watch and park.
BOE members said they would check to see if there’s a venue that fits the need.
The next Upshur County BOE meeting is slated for 7 p.m. May 14 at the Fred Eberle Technical Center.