On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, truths about serving and loving one another were on my mind all morning before the noon “Upshur Next” planning meeting at the Buckhannon Opera House. I felt meditative and prayerful as I reviewed a list of West Virginians who died at Normandy, France, in that huge amphibious assault which turned the tide of World War II.
An Upshurite died that day. My pondering focused on Darius W. Crites, who gave all on June 6, 1944. His gift of life for our freedom’s sake was what allowed community and education leaders to gather planning for “Upshur Next.”
General Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke to his troops: “I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory.” Following suit, Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus, Upshur County Schools Superintendent, spoke to our full
Opera House volunteers: “We need You! Thank you for your time and dedication to Upshur County students and their future. As a stakeholder in our success, would you be willing to engage in continued conversations about how to improve our Upshur County School System?”
I commented to our table that included local medical doctors Joseph Reed, MD; Matthan Jackson, DO; LaWanna Starks, MD; Araceli Ganan-Almond, MD; and myself, that we can make a significant contribution for the future by creating a healthy living environment for our students. In our break-out session, we approached our task as “Docs” making a medical diagnosis of “Upshur Next”:
*Career Technical Education.
Definitely our gathering benefited by co-opting Create Buckhannon’s Thursday lunch time. This futuristic-minded group continues to provide funds and volunteers to create quality of life enhancements to Buckhannon and Upshur County. The usual players added much to our creative thinking. C.J. Rylands greeted “Upshur Next.” He had prepared a tasteful fare for lunch. The word was out so the crowd nearly exceeded the table bounty.
Dr. Debra Harrison, Assistant Superintendent of Upshur County Schools, set us to our task, keeping us on a tight schedule as we examined four questions:
A. What is the picture of an ideal Upshur County School system?
B. What aspects of this picture are already in effect?
C. Where do we need to grow in order to attain this system?
D. How do we make this happen?
Finally, Dr. Tammy Samples, BOE President, gave generous thanks for such a productive meeting. She knows that the BOE cannot carry on alone or in a vacuum, so we will need to have more “Upshur Next” meetings.
My thoughts returned to a D-Day thank-you directed toward the blue skies over Upshur County this June day. May Darius W. Crites and all who gave their last full measure of devotion 75 years ago find our efforts worthy of their great sacrifice.