By Stephen Smoot
The first meeting of the Pendleton County Board of Education for April opened with a prayer by J. D. Wilkins, board president. He urged that God “bless all the parents and students of Pendleton County.”
Members first watched a video called “Game Changer.” Wilkins shared that the goal of those producing it lay in “preventing opioid use before it starts.” It featured one of the all-time greats of West Virginia University women’s basketball, Meg Bulger. Bulger, whose brother was a star quarterback for West Virginia University and the St. Louis Rams, hosted the video.
Other famous West Virginians participating in the video included country singing legend Brad Paisley from Moundsville, Nick Saban, the Fairmont-born head football coach of the University of Alabama, and Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.
The video featured the theme “one pill can kill” and zeroed in on the destruction caused by fentanyl. It interspersed Bulger having frank talks with a group of children from around the state about drugs in school and families with interviews featuring law enforcement, educators, and others.
Middle and high school students informed Bulger that “I have a lot of friends who struggle with addiction.” One shared how a small amount of fentanyl killed a family friend instantly. A federal Drug Enforcement Agency agent pointed out that some fentanyl now looks like harmless aspirin or other over the counter and prescription products.
A student looking at an image of an intentionally disguised fentanyl pill explained that “this just looks like an Advil or ibuprofen I’d take.”
After the video, the board moved on to approve the retirement of Linda Mallow, long time secretary of Pendleton County Middle/High School, “with regret.”
As part of the finance report, J. P. Mowery discussed a $1,400 payment to “Batman.” This year, as part of a Community in Schools project, an actor portraying the Dark Knight visited Pendleton County Schools to teach valuable lessons and delight the students. Mowery reported that “I think it was a big hit.”
Mowery also reported that a recent audit “went very well.” He shared that “there were late nights,” but that the report made it in time for the state mandated deadline on March 31. Additionally, he stated that the “financial update looks very good,” but that higher accounting standards for school finances may force some school systems to look at “more division of labor.”
Travis Heavner said “after spring break we are getting into a very important time of year.” Assessment tests will return at the end of the month. Furthermore, students taking Pathway to Proficiency tests will “give students some idea of where they fall.”
In the facilities update, Heavner informed the board that workers completed the floor in the Christian Assistance Network building. “We did let the concrete cure,” he explained, and added “as of Wednesday evening they were moving back in.”
The board will also advertise for bids for the Pendleton Middle/High School fieldhouse project starting on April 19. A pre-bid meeting will take place at 11 AM. Anyone wishing to participate “is mandated to attend the pre-bid meeting.”
Charles Hedrick, superintendent of Pendleton County Schools, recommended that the board approve a memorandum of understanding to accept student-teachers from West Virginia University, which it did.
Grant, Hardy, and Pendleton counties completed their draft for the synchronized school year and will submit it to the state for approval. Due primarily to the shared use of the South Branch Career and Technical Center, the tri-county region aligns their calendars to prevent stress on the school and students.