Sportsman’s Club In The Works At Valley High
At the Jan. 3 meeting of the Wetzel County Board of Education, members of Valley High School and the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office appeared before the board with a proposal to start a Sportsman’s Club at VHS to meet the interests of many students and help decrease drop-out rate.
VHS Principal Benjamin McPherson opened the presentation stating he and others were interested in starting such a club to draw in students who are not otherwise involved in any extracurricular school activities. Notably, McPherson said it had occurred to him that whenever a student dropped out of school, he never had to ask that student to return a uniform, band instrument, or other school equipment. “It’s always a student who doesn’t have a sense of belonging at the school,” he resolved.
Activities to be offered within the proposed club include shooting, archery, ATV and gun safety, camping, fishing, and the like.
Regarding financing, club plans are well underway thanks to generous donations from Attorney Michael McGuane and Cabela’s.
Wetzel County Chief Deputy Rob Haught also spoke out in favor of the club. Crediting Deputy and VHS Prevention Resource Officer Donald Bordenkircher with coming up with the idea for the club, Haught expressed his total support of the proposal and told the board he and other officers were on board to help with chaperoning and offering instructional sessions for the Sportsman’s Club.
“This is a wonderful idea and opportunity to reach these ‘at risk’ students,” Haught said. “Kids need to have some way of connecting with school and have a reason to be there.” He added that as West Virginians many of us enjoy a heritage of such outdoor activities given the natural resources available to us.
Haught explained he contacted Cabela’s in Wheeling about the club and the news spread quickly up the corporate chain to the company’s headquarters in Nebraska. The request for sponsorship was met with a resounding “Yes” as Haught stated. He added Cabela’s is very interested in offering sponsorships to other schools across the U.S. to run such a club. “Wouldn’t it be nice to say down the road that we were the pilot program for a nationwide program?” Haught underlined.
Moreover, Haught said Cabela’s has offered to sponsor the program with the condition they be the only corporate sponsor. “They are committed to this,” Haught reiterated as he shared that camping, fishing, and other equipment would all be made available to the club from the company. Cabela’s, however, would like the club to show initiative in being self-sufficient in raising money as well, but has offered their store to do fund raising.
Haught clarified to the board that the sheriff’s office was committed to chaperoning and mentoring the students. He added all of the officers are certified firearms instructors and have experience in instructing such courses. Also, firearms would never be used on school property and would be transported to and from the sheriff’s office by deputies.
Haught added that from a sheriff’s point of view, the club is a wonderful opportunity for students to build a positive relationship with law enforcement. “It allows us to try to influence them early on and be a positive role model in their lives,” Haught said. “We’re real people, too, not just the bad guy.”
Furthermore, organizers of the club intend to make activities in the club relevant to studies, as many outdoor activities can help illustrate scientific concepts in physics, anatomy, biology, etc.
While those organizing the club anticipate placing attendance and GPA prerequisites to joining the club, the board agreed that such perimeters would be set after the club forms, knowing that many students interested in joining the club could or would not join if such restrictions were placed immediately.
Bordenkircher then shared his point of view as the school’s PRO, “I want to take these kids who don’t have any attachments and bring them together.” Bordenkircher also told the board he would act as an advisor of the club. “I want to mold them into that ideal student,” he said.
VHS Teacher Josh Weekley, another supporter of the proposed club, stated, “What I’m most excited about is the opportunity to be a mentor to the students rather than ‘the teacher.'” He added he saw this as an occasion for the students to teach him some things, a prospect he was enthusiastic toward. “It’s a neutral ground situation,” Weekley observed.
Those supporting the formation of the club have been working together to iron out all details of the club including establishing a meeting place. Organizers shared they have made contact with a local venue and are in negotiations.
While speaking in support of the idea, Superintendent Diane Watt noted there were bylaws to consider along with liabilities that needed to be addressed. In agreement, organizers stated they plan to hash out all such matters to ensure the club meets the Safe Schools Act. They are also looking into purchasing secondary insurance to cover liabilities.
The board was happy to hear of the plans for a Sportsman’s Club at VHS and plans to put a formal motion to approve the club on the floor at their next meeting.
In another matter, it was also announced at the board meeting that Amy Dieffenbauch has resigned her seat on the board to seek other political ventures in the county. Namely, she will be running for county commission.
Under approvals, the board approved the second reading of Wetzel County Policy: EBB-R, Safety Control in addition to approving all personnel and routine matters which will be detailed in upcoming editions of the Wetzel Chronicle.
Lastly, the board established the date and time of upcoming meetings to be held at the county office. They are as follows: regular meeting Jan. 17 at 7 p.m., special meeting Jan. 23 at 6 p.m., and regular meeting Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.