Success Celebrated By MHS and NMS
At the Nov. 7 meeting of the Wetzel County Board of Education, Local School Improvement Councils from Magnolia High School and New Martinsville School each provided the board with reports regarding the 2015-2016 school year.
MHS Principal Kathi Schmalz spoke to board members regarding the goals for this school year. Goals involved students graduating with the reading and writing skills necessary to interact successfully, students taking ownership of their learning, and students taking advantage of rich curriculum to become college and career-ready.
“We firmly believe that students need to own their learning,” Schmalz said. “We can’t do it for them, and parents can’t do it for them. They have to work very hard to get where they are going.”
Schmalz said students need to take advantage of the rich curriculum offered. “We have options with the CTE courses and simulated workplace. We are setting the bar high for kids, and kids are doing well in reaching that.”
Instructor Stacy Barcus spoke to the board on focus groups, which were implemented at MHS in August.
Barcus said MHS has seven focus groups. She said four to five teachers picked a group they thought they would be an asset to. Each group picked an objective and set goals for the coming school year.
Groups included: transition focus group, technology group, raising expectation, climate and culture focus group, guidance/adchivement focus group, engaging instruction focus group, and CTE focus group.
Thomas Ledergerber, a senior, spoke to the board and audience on the different mottos Magnolia High School has implemented throughout his four years of high school.
Ledergerber said when he was a freshman, his first day of school found him to be wandering and lost. “I knew what I had to do, but nothing more.”
Ledergerber said “The Dash” was introduced this year, which put importance on spending time wisely.
“It was explained to me by seniors that our next four years would fly by, and we’d regret opportunities we didn’t take.”
During Ledergerber’s second year of high school, MHS incorporated the words “I Believe.”
“This pair of words let me know I could do anything I put my mind to, excel in classes.”
The next year, MHS used the theme word “Awesome.”
“That word can be taken so many ways. It let me know that I even had something amazing about me, and I inspired to look deep into myself… it helped me to discover other students and teachers’ awesome qualities.”
Ledergerber said his final year has come upon him, and he feels like he is working against the clock, with so much to accomplish in a short amount of time… however, he has found strength in this year’s word: Grit.
“It is a quality of someone that can persevere through the toughest tasks.”
Ledergerber explained that the word was used as an acronym by MHS, standing for “Guts, Resilience, Initiative, and Tenacity.”
“It is something I can keep in mind. Classes are hard, and it is helping me get through them. The slogans are things I can take with me anywhere. They have taught me how to achieve greatness and be the strongest person I can be.”
Sophomore Teran Malone talked about the Magnolia family. He said he first experienced the Magnolia family through the late Mark Lemasters, who was an instructor at MHS. “I knew him for a short time, but I treasured every moment.”
Malone said his first interaction with Lemasters was when he (Malone) was walking through the hallway, lamenting about a poor grade he received in Math. Lemasters had overhead Malone.
“He told me that no matter what types of grades I get, to never give up.”
“That inspirational comment will always make me be able to graduate high school, to make me keep on going.”
Malone said MHS never fails to come together “and be there for eachother.” He noted that when a student was recently injured, “as a family, we realized we needed to raise awareness.”
In concluding his remarks, Malone noted a popular slogan amongst Blue Eagles: “Once a Magnolia Blue Eagle, always a Magnolia Blue Eagle. No one can take that from you.”
In another matter, Prevention Resource Officer Jason Utt provided the board with safety updates that had been made to the school.
Utt credited the board of education and superintendent for supporting the safety endeavors. He noted that last year MHS had installed new fire alarms. “They are very alarming,” he remarked, adding that students move a bit faster in response to the alarms.
New security doors have also been installed at the school. “From the main office, we can lockdown all exterior doors with a push of a button. No one can get in,” he said, remarking that some of the doors have had alarms installed.
Furthermore, prior to Utt’s addition at MHS, emergency operations plans had not been updated in almost a decade. Utt said plans have since been updated to add a 100-year flood evacuation and relocation plan. Also, the plans now include everything from animals inside of the building, to a radiological, biological, or chemical threat.
Utt said recently this year he met with SWAT team leaders, law enforcement in Monroe County, the Wetzel-Tyler Special Reponse Team, and the Monroe County Sepcial Reponse Team. All these groups received copies of the plans and were provided with a tour of MHS.
Utt said as of Nov. 4, NMPD has two certified ALICE instructors. All school resource officers are certified, as well as a couple of members of the board office. Utt said this ensures that “we don’t have to work around one person’s schedule to schedule trainings. We can have these trainings whenever.”
Utt said he has also created emergency plans for events, such as after-school events, athletics, and theatre events. There will eventually be evacuation routes displayed at venues.
Utt said that for the ALICE training, the students, staffs, and faculty are participating in an assortment of different emergency drills, including “tabletop drills.”
He explained, “I give an envelope to teachers, and when prompted, they open the envelope. They have to react to the threat I have written in the envelope. Not every teacher’s envelope is the same. It is a great way for students and teachers to think on their feet and grasp and understand the concept.”
Utt explained that he was going to wrap his presentation up “with one thing very important to me.”
“I don’t get paid for after-school hours, but I spend about 45 minutes after school, on my time, taking care of safety. We had issues with overhead flashing lights. A lot of times people don’t see those lights. We are hoping to get school zone routes. I utilized some pop-up signs. We’ve placed those at the south end of Maple Avenue and on Elm Street. It is right in front of the school. What I do, is I pull my cruier in the south bound lane. Those signs have helped to deter a lot of traffic in the school zone.”
In another matter, Dan Henthorn, director of the theater programs at Magnolia High School and Paden City High School, spoke on the production of Les Miserables that his students are preparing to put on. Henthorn said all schools will participate in the program, which will be shown Dec. 8-11.
“Les Mis is a show that a lot of school will not attempt to do, but I think we have the talent to be able to do a very good incredible production. Set your calendars and tell all your friends.”
Fay Pritchard was first to speak on behalf of New Martinsville School. Pritchard spoke on NMS’ core beliefs, which included providing a safe environment for learning and meeting diverse needs of all learners. Pritchard said one of the goals for NMS is to incorporate more walk-throughs of the facilities.
“Every teacher will be visited every quarter of the year. We will have 250-300 walk-throughs completed; that will be in addition to observations.”
Seventh/Eighth Grade Principal Shawn Coen spoke to the board and the audience on safety at New Martinsville School. She said the school continues to implement the ALICE program; this year, trainings included substitute teachers. Also, a parent training for ALICE was also held, so that parents know what is happening at the school.
Coen said programs such as “Hidden in Plain Sight” are also provided at the school to help parents become more aware of dangerous activities their children could be involved in. Other important trainings include, but are not limited to, CPR, Crisis Prevention and Intervention, First Aid, Suicide Prevention, and more. The principal noted that a Sexting Awareness program was held for both parents and studetns; the program was presented by the assistant prosecutor.
Coen introduced Adam Skinner to the board; Skinner is NMS’ Prevention Resource Officer for this school year.
Coen reminded the board that a “Hidden in Plain Sight” training would be held at the school on Dec. 8, 6 p.m.
“I would recommend you see that program,” she said. “There are lots of things that are very eye-opening and surprising.”
Brian Croasmun spoke to the board about the seventh and eighth grades’ “Eagle News” program, which was the idea of Seventh/Eighth Grade Principal Shawn Coen. Croasmun said the program is a “little video segment that we put out every Monday about things that have happened around the school the past week.” Croasmun said students are divided into different news teams, and teachers will take photos and videos of events happening throughout the school; these clips will be e-mailed to Croasmun and will be put together into a news segment.
Two different local organizations were applauded at the board meeting, by the NMS LSIC. Carolyn Jackson, of the New Martinsville Lions Club, was recognized for “Little Happy Feet,” which provides shoes to NMS students in need. It was noted that The Lions Club can be called on at anytime during the school year for aid with the project, which is spearheaded by Jackson.
Candy Clark and Betty Wilson were two individuals recognized for the Kids First program that is held Mondays at United Methodist Church. The program is a child and nutritional program in which children are tutored with homework, positive and organized play, music and crafts. Parents are welcomed to join in with a family-style dinner prior to the conclusion of the program.
Charlie and Judy Clements were recognized for their role in the Bags of Bounty program, which was started by local churches in the area. This program ensures that children will have healthy food that they can prepare themselves at home.
The Parent-Teacher Organization was also recognized for helping with daily activities, coordinating various programs, and more.
At the conclusion of the Nov. 7 meeting, Board Member Bill Jones noted that the last four board meetings – each one held at one of the county’s high schools – has been like “a walk through Wetzel County wonderland.”
“I applaud ever yschool, the efforts they put in every day for our students. There is a lot of great things happening in Wetzel County.”
“It’s outstanding,” Board President Warren Grace noted. “It is really illuminating to see all that is going on.”
Grace remarked that the A-F grades each of the schools will receive from the state does not factor in a lot of the accomplishments noted at the LSIC meetings.
“In our eyes, you guys are all A’s,” Jones noted.
“That is the truth,” Grace stated.