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‘Susie School’ Makes Point To Reduce Dropouts

By Staff | Sep 15, 2010

Six-year-old “Susie School” reminded the Wetzel County Board of Education Sept. 7 of its responsibilities lower the dropout rate and increase the graduation rate, now at 89.2 percent. (Photo by Bill Abraham)

Six-year-old “Susie School” reminded the Wetzel County Board of Education Sept. 7 of its commitment to reducing the dropout rate and increasing the graduation rate, currently at 89.2 percent. The graduation rate is one criteria used in determining Adequate Yearly Progress status, mandated by federal No Child Left Behind legislation, which now requires that a minimum of 80 percent of students graduate.

However, two schools in the county failed to meet AYP because of their graduation rates – Hundred High School, 77.8 percent, and Paden City High School, 75.7 percent. Officials at an earlier board meeting cautioned that rates for smaller schools may be misleading, as a small number of students can change percentages, up or down.

Among the variables that can lower the graduation rate/dropout rate are bullying, absent parenting, stressful events in students’ lives, lack of school support, and others.

Six-year-old Susie-in age appropriate dress-used thematic children’s books to identify the benefits of “academics and attendance,” which she said are fundamental to a successful educational program that keep graduation rates high-and dropout rates lower.

County Superintendent Bill Jones noted that it is with students of Susie’s age “that the dropout problem begins.”

“Susie School” brought a teddy bear with her to the Sept. 7 Wetzel County Board of Education and entrusted his care to Director of Ancillary Services Brian Jones, who did an exceptional job with his charge.

Although a student cannot drop out of school until age 16, age 17 next year, but a student’s discomfort level may begin very early and authorities still consider the graduation rate a serious problem. Nationally, West Virginia ranks fifth in the graduation rate.

Susie’s presentation preceded another report, from Tammy Wells, county director of secondary and vocational education, student assessment, and strategic planning, who submitted an annual update to the county’s strategic plan. The board-approved plan’s seven objectives include having all students master or exceed grade level on 21st Century educational standards-another criteria for successfully achieving AYP.

The document calls for insuring that “all students with high school diplomas are ready for post-secondary education and careers.” The year-old Red Hat Mining Program at Hundred High School is such an effort to provide students an opportunity to enter the workforce upon graduation.

Wells said that meeting AYP “is a goal we all must work on-teachers, administrators, parents, and students.” She also said that the plan addresses the problem of students at risk for dropping out. The plan goes to the state board of education Sept. 15 for its required approval.

The board acted favorably on parental requests for six students to attend or continue attending Wetzel County Schools in the 2010-11 school year. It also failed to approve a request for another student to do so and released two other students to attend Tyler County schools for the year.

In addition, the board permitted HHS senior Janelle J. Crow to be dismissed from school at the end of the fifth period each day for the remainder of the school year. The request, which was endorsed by the school’s principal, stipulates that Crow must accumulate a sufficient number of credit hours to graduate.

The board added the following to a list of organizations that are permitted to raise funds in a school’s name: Hundred High School Athletic Boosters, Hundred High School Band Boosters, and the HHS Relay For Life.

The board acted on a host of personnel and staff matters, as well as approved the following bus duty supervisors for the 2010-11 school year.

HHS: Janet H. Moore;

Long Drain School: Ronald A. Dennis, Janet M. Park, and David L. Pethtel;

Magnolia High School: Jeanne L. Schupbach;

New Martinsville School: Linda M. Fonner, Julie L. Ledergerber, Pamela H. Shockley, Carol L. Tallman, Thomas E. Tennant, and Aaron E. Vigliotti;

Paden City Elementary School: Sheila A. Aberegg, Cathy J. Amos, Tammy D. Chambers, Marikay G. Corliss, Jeffrey E. Hohn, Rachel A. Melott, and Kimberley L. Underwood;

Paden City High School: Donna K. Jones;

Short Line School: Cynthia J. Brown, Linda G. Dulaney, Kimberly S. Edgell, Linda J. Haught, Christina N. McCoy, Martha L. Stackpole, and Mollie A. Toppe;

Valley High School: Mark A. Kessinger; and

Wetzel County Center for Children and Families: Cora E. Bowers and Susan L. Paden.

Out-of-town trip requests were approved for several personnel, including one from Tammy Wells, for herself and for the following persons to attend a K-12 Reinvention Symposium Oct. 22-24 in Washington, D.C.: Kathi Schmalz, Teresa Standiford, Stacy Barcus, Mary Calvert, Rhonda Fiest, Kim Gongola, Sandra Hinerman, Mark Lemasters, Debbie Rothacher, Ashley Smith, and William Jones. The event is sponsored by the International Center for Leadership in Education. The trip will be funded with Title II monies.

Gregory W. Richmond will attend the Midwest Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance 2010 Leadership Development Convention in Angola, Ind., Sept. 29-Oct. 2. The trip will be paid from NMS funds and the Alliance.

Finally, the board approved Rhonda Fiest’s request to take MHS students to a performance of Phantom of the Opera at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh on or before Sept. 29. That trip will be funded through student fees.

Before adjourning, the superintendent announced that HVAC problems at New Martinsville School appear to be resolved and said the contracts are down to a punch list of jobs that need to be finalized. The school was closed two days this month because air was not being moved in two areas of the building.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, at HHS.