Paden City High School’s Future Looks Bright
Several years ago, with the Wetzel County Board of Education facing budget problems and enrollment at Paden City High school on the decline, the future of the community’s high school looked bleak. The board had to submit a 10 year plan to the state, and from all indications, it called for the closing of Paden City high school and moving those students to Magnolia.
Every effort was made by the residents, community leaders, concerned citizens, teachers, boosters organizations and alumni to turn, what seemed the impossible, around to change the Board’s outlook on the situation and reverse their decision to close what is the life blood of Paden City: “Itss High School.”
After several high intense meetings between the community and the Board of Education, and through some very persuasive speeches and promises from the opposition to the move, the Wetzel County Board of Education voted to change its plan to include Paden City high school as a 7-12 school.
Since that time, many changes have taken place at Paden City, and they are now a school on the rise with many new programs, increases in attendance, high test scores and 100 percent graduation rates.
What more could you ask for? Recently during discussions with Mr. Ed Toman, Board President Warren Grace and Paden City high school Principal Jay Salva, it was learned that even more positive changes are in the works.
Many of those changes have already occurred and many more our currently underway.
In 2015 major changes took place on the athletic football field, with new metal bleachers replacing the old wooden structures that had become safety concerns on both sides of the field. New lighting was also installed after the old lights were destroyed during a high wind storm. Much of the work was done at the expense of the Board of Education along with volunteer help from the people within the community.
To go along with the bleachers and lights, a new press box was also erected, mostly using board money and local labor.
In 2016, during the summer and prior to school resuming, all new security was added to the high school to bring better protection to the students, visitors and faculty. Part of those security measures included new doors throughout the high school, and the windows on the first floor were also replaced. The windows in the doors, and all the exterior windows, have a special 3M glass for high security measures. According to Principal Jay Salva, it would take a huge effort to get in the building if it were to go on lockdown.
Salva also said the doors in the building have special security features which make them exremely difficult to enter. Those two features were the major changes in 2016, in order to provide better security for the safety of the children. A special security pass is now required to enter the building.
Those changes came about because the board of education saw a need, recommended the upgrades, and provided all the funding for the changes.
Last year’s upgrades to the school also saw the gym floor painted, the gym painted and hallways and classrooms painted, new padding for the gym, a new digital clock and new doors to the entrance of the gym, from the commons, were also installed. New lighting in the gym was a major change and much needed for the athletes, as well as the spectators. Several classrooms also had new ceiling tiles installed, all in an effort to make the school more modern.
To enhance security, new cameras were installed, along with a new DVR system ,to record everything in or near the building. Salva said the system is very clear and they can zoom in and see everything up close; it is in color with high resolution. He said it is an HD system with a total of 32 cameras which cove’s the entire school interior and exterior.
Last year’s renovations included new carpeting in the downstairs classrooms and new tiling on the hallways downstairs from the front entrance to the rear of the building and upstairs in the commons. Last year’s security measures also included the new Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) Mary Bordenkircher, a sheriff’s deputy from the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office. She is not only there for preventive measures but teaches lessons to the kids about the dangers of drugs and instructs the kids in the ALICE training along with drills and measures to take if there was an active shooting or need for a lock down.
“The Board is putting a lot of money into this school. It is my belief that they are not only doing it for security, regular maintenance, needed repairs and upgrades but also because they want to make the school more attractive for families and kids to ensure the future of Paden City High School,” said Principal Salva. “We have had more work done than any of the schools over the past two years. Getting the classrooms done and redone and the new roof over the entire building makes me pretty sure there is a plan for the long-term for this school.”
The Principal said PCHS has great attendance and for the second year in a row, “we graduated 100 percent of our students.” Salva added that he and his staff, and the guidance counselor, work extremely hard to get the students to understand the importance of graduating versus dropping out. He mentioned the benefits of graduating, particularly the ability of going into the work force, getting into the Military, trade schools and especially the ability to enter into college. While not graduating closes a lot of those doors for the students, something he says he doesn’t want to see happen.
He said PCHS personnel spends extra time talking to kids who are failing. “We try to see what’s going on with them and then we offer extra help. Kids you have failed, go right in to recovery so we can get them back on track. We do this from their freshman year on to get them to graduate.”
Salva said sometimes it is a struggle, but “we just keep on trying, that’s what we do to make sure our kids get the skills and training they need to enter the world after high school.”
“We push them very hard, we are a small school and we know all of our kids, which allows us to develop that very good relationship with them. We want to keep them here. When we run into problems with truancy, we work hard with the parents to solve the problems before the law gets involved and they get fined or worse. We try to help,” he stated.
Salva said everything they are doing is to try an make the school more attractive to entice the children in the community to consider Paden City over other choices they have. He said they are adding new courses; they have an award winning Drama club with a very successful theatre club at the school. He said they participate at the state level, and for the past several years have always had state winners while competing against bigger schools including triple A.
“Our band is growing in size. we have computer science classes, page design, and we have a lot of classes in the food and health areas. We have one to one technology now; each student has a laptop and our staff is very well trained in technology.”
The conclusion of this story will appear in next week’s Wetzel Chronicle