BUCKHANNON — When Buckhannon-Upshur High School’s Assistant Principal Randall Roy was asked what ICU stands for, he emphatically replied, “Intensive Care Unit.” ICU is a program that utilizes a database so teachers can create, monitor and manage missing assignments with ease. The program was initiated three years ago when the five B-UHS “Lifeguards” – Randy Revels, Nichole Cerullo, Ann Clem, Jamie Davis and Garrett Friend – were on the leadership team and began to explore how ICU could benefit their students. 

The ICU model was developed by Education Consultant Danny Hill. The main idea of ICU is to defeat “student apathy” by disregarding due dates, giving students extra time, and making students recomplete poorly done or unfinished assignments, with no penalty to their grades. The ideology is that students will learn more by having less stress to learn in a limited amount of time, and the “high maintenance’” students will now have no choice but to complete their assignments, and complete them well.

Clem and Friend are the chairs of the committee at B-UHS. The ICU Committee consists of educators in Math, English, Special Education, Fine Arts and others. Cerullo started a year in advance on the program called High School 101, which B-UHS designed. According to Roy, “The kids that come into her program are identified as students who have struggled in middle school or elementary school, with either grades, attendance, behavior, or a combination of those, and Cerullo gets the top 50.” Roy continued, “She is teaching them life skills, time management and communication skills, while she is also getting them involved and studying for upcoming tests.”

The committee unanimously commented that they are seeing results with the use of this program. Davis reported, “The statistics you saw on the graph would have all been zeroes without this program.” Assistant Principal Douglas Frashure emphasized, “13,000 assignments that would have otherwise been a zero, so 13,000 assignments were recovered last year, which means there were a lot of students that passed a class because we nagged them and used all of these additional supports.”

Clem used the scenario, “When you have kids and you tell them to go clean their room and they don’t clean their room…Ok you didn’t clean your room, so you can never, ever clean your room again? No, you bug them until they clean their room.” Clem furthered, “Many critics were like, you are letting them off the hook. No, we are doing the exact opposite.” Davis added, “It is like paying bills as an adult – If you don’t pay your electric bill, you may get a warning or a note on your door, but if you don’t pay it, they shut it off. They don’t say you can never have power again. It is not punitive. The kids can choose the layer of support, but it’s their choice, their time, their lunch.” 

Friend added, “At the end of the day we want them to master the standards that the state says we have to teach. They are here to learn the standards; we are here to teach the standards, and this is the tool we have to do it.” Frashure continued, “As you talk about a penalty, the penalty is not a reduction in grade. The grade should reflect what they have learned. Not what they did, but what they have learned. The penalty is that they have to give up their lunch time, social time, or they have to stay after school or even come in early in the morning, and they are giving up their free time in order to make up this assignment and we are providing people there that can help them complete those assignments.”

Cerullo stated, “The only ones that think this is a bad idea are our highfliers that have all the missing assignments. There are kids who really want help and will go to somebody.” Davis added, “There are kids that also don’t need this support. They do their work and they master the standards and get it done.” Frashure reported that when Cerullo started this program, there were kids who had not passed a class in two years, and at the end of that first-year, students were passing classes – four to seven classes – and it just blew the students away. Frashure stated, “Students were astounded and their self-confidence greatly increased.” Frashure proclaimed, “Each year, we are adding another 50 students to the original 50, so essentially, she is running 200 students.”

The committee all agreed that Cerullo has taken the time to build strong relationships with the students. ICU began to help students learn what they were not learning and gave students the supports to do so. B-UHS is the first school state-wide to utilize the ICU culture and the school is specializing the program to accommodate the needs of students. The committee, Roy and Frashure were all very energetic in explaining the program and the success they are seeing. Roy commented, “The excitement you are seeing, feeling right here is not just contained to this small group. I’m not going to tell you everyone is fired up about it, but the school is starting to swim in the same direction.” According to Roy, test scores and graduation rates have and will continue to raise with the use of the ICU model. 

Once again, Upshur County is leading the state in a positive and productive initiative. For continued updates on ICU and the Upshur County Board of Education, follow The Record Delta.


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