BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus attended the meeting and gave CREATE an update on the multitude of progressive new plans they will be implementing. In the first highlight, she explained the exciting new partnership with Glenville State College that will allow students to earn an Associates degree while they are still in high school. Dr. Stankus said additional programs are in the works with Wesleyan, Fairmont and West Virginia University as well.
Her next update was about the five new pre-k classrooms the county will see added within the elementary schools this fall. Buckhannon Academy Elementary will get two, while French Creek and Union will each receive one and Hodgesville’s new classroom will come in the way of a new construction. Upshur County received $2.2 million from the School Building Authority to fully fund the new addition at Hodgesville with an updated safe schools entry way, as well as new HVAC and sprinkler systems throughout the entire school. She was also proud to announce that a local clerk of the works for this project will officially be hired next week and the construction should begin in the next month.
Tennerton Elementary School’s principal Tristen Gray applied and was approved to travel with a group through the Confucius Institute on an all-expenses paid trip to China. While there, Grey will visit their schools, learn about the culture and develop a relationship with a sister school in China, then bring his experiences back here to share. Upshur County currently has a Chinese teacher at the middle and high schools through the Confucius Institute and they hope to provide two Chinese instructors next year.
The Board of Education is working closely with Community Care and the Child Advocacy Center to increase mental health services offered to students. This proactive partnership will enable the addition of counselors and a social worker in the schools. The county will also pioneer three new Personalized Alternative Learning Schools (PALS) in the fall, which will be located at Stockert Youth Community Center, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School and Buckhannon Academy Elementary.
The BOE is also hoping to facilitate quality after school care programs for every school in the county soon. With the devastating issue being brought to light more recently regarding our local children not having access to enough food, the board is getting creative at ways to help. CREATE members discussed a current news story being circulated about schools in Indiana packaging leftovers to be sent home as meals for students. Dr. Stankus said they were aware and already looking at options to implement something similar here.
With the Strawberry Festival quickly approaching, members of CREATE Buckhannon discussed planning and logistics at Thursday’s meeting. A map has been created to counter a perception some may have that Buckhannon has a parking problem and to the contrary, displays the 489 free parking places that are actually available. It will also serve as a resource for visitors looking for free parking areas in town, as well as giving notifications of tow zones.
Clean-up of the Community Garden will be underway over the next week in preparation for planting season and to spruce up for the festival. Shirley Tinney told the group that some juvenile probationers will get the chance to perform community service in the garden that will benefit everyone. She welcomes anyone interested in gardening and giving back to the community to join.
Buck Edwards reported that their tree beautification project is now in full swing. The first shipment of dogwood and redbud trees from Highland Nursery arrived last week and more will be ordered. He envisions the purple and white blossoms making Buckhannon a distinguished destination to visit in the spring for many years to come. If you’d like to sponsor a tree, please contact Buck Edwards or call Melodie Stemple at 304-472-1757.