Lesson Learned (April 1)

“A joyful heart helps healing.” – Proverbs 17:22a, CEB

After a full year of Coronavirus Pandemic woes, some laughter helped at our Upshur County Schools Board of Education March 9th public meeting. We celebrated Tuesday evening as Buckhannon-Upshur High School Student Body President John “Jake” Bowman joined those who have been recognized as Upshur Stars.

Jake sat on the stage of the B-U High School auditorium, joining the BOE as our student representative to the board. Dr. Tammy Samples, President, welcomed him. The BOE—Mrs. Katie Loudin, Vice-President; Dr. Greenbrier Almond, member; Mrs. Kristi Wilkerson, member; and Mr. Patrick Long, member—enthusiastically clapped.

Jake shared the students’ perspective, which is highly respected in our deliberations. Laughter rang throughout the high school building as students and families came for a girls basketball balloting. A year after the Spring 2020 medical emergency closing our schools, the dramatic re-opening creates hope.

Another joy came with the announcement that Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus, Superintendent of Upshur County Schools, accepted her three-year extension of her contract. For a year now we have said, “We are all in this together!” Now we face the future, continuing to work diligently to establish progressive plans for Upshur County Schools while focusing on the success and well-being of all students. We, indeed, are still all in this together, but now on the positive side.

With three years of collaboration under the leadership of Dr. Lewis-Stankus, Upshur County Schools has adopted a variety of strategies and successful programs, including the one-to-one Apple initiative. This initiative allowed for all administrators, teachers, and students to receive Apple devices to enhance teaching and learning practices during a unique pandemic year that has necessitated remote learning. Our good fortune deserves a good laugh.

I laughed when Jake stated that he feels equipped by his B-U High School education to compete on the world stage, including matriculating to Swarthmore College, which has the mantra: “A community where people with good ideas come together to create great ones.” He will pursue higher liberal arts education, with plans to major in either history or economics. His success will be our success. What joy!

Once again, our public meeting of the BOE has Jonathan Pollock, Principal of Buckhannon-Upshur High School, as host. We can accommodate larger crowds spaced out in the high school auditorium. Even as we are welcomed by Principal Pollock, he laughs, anticipating getting underway with our Upshur County citizens’ wishes to build a new Buckhannon-Upshur High School. We last built a high school 44 years ago. Our pandemic reveals new building code requirements for health and safety. Timing is everything.

Since the desire of the Buckhannon-Upshur School Planning Committee has been to emphasize our mission of employability, this project calls for a career technical high school. Before coming to Upshur County, Principal Pollock was Principal and Director of the Monongalia County Technical Education Center. How fortunate that we have the right point man for building a great teaching and learning center par excellence.

My final laugh is just a nod toward Heaven, recognizing how details work out by grand design. My joyful heart is already healing.


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