Highland School Board February Meeting

The Highland County School Board heard reports from partner organizations on educational related activities during its February meeting.

First, Paxton Grant from Virginia Cooperative Extension and Thea Klein-Mayer, Food Programs Coordinator for The Highland Center gave an update on the school garden. The project was started in 2013 with the revamping of the school’s greenhouse and construction of raised bed gardens at the elementary school. The goals include teaching students to start, raise and harvest their own produce, to develop character and life skills, to create outdoor classroom activities which enhance in-class education, consistent with Virginia Standards of Learning, and promote healthy eating habits. Last year, 272 pounds of produce was harvested, which was raised and cared for by the students from seed. Mr. Grant noted that preparations were beginning for the fourth growing season to begin in March, and noted Superintendent Dr. Thomas Schott had given them a broad range of curriculum choices, even if not directly connected to SOL’s.

Next, Josh Umar, Youth and Community Outreach Coordinator  from The Highland Center updated the Board on the Youth Employment Program. Last year, the program employed 14 students who worked 1,526 hours over the summer at seven different worksites. The school employed six students in the program from beginning to end, and four who participated part time, working on cleaning, technology and the school garden, accumulating over 1,000 hours of effort. Mr. Umar noted that the program was not just about the wages earned, but there were educational sessions as well – last year, classes were held on financial literacy, the effects of criminal records, career planning and mock job interviews.  He said plans for 2016 are underway, and he hopes to expand the program by starting earlier in the year, and making the educational learning opportunities available to younger students. He plans to stress entrepreneurism and work alongside other local workforce development initiatives.

In other reports, elementary school principal Teresa Blum noted Tuesday was the 100th day of school, and children would dress and have activities related to the number 100. High school principal Tim Good noted that 7th grader Marshall Cornelius had won the spelling bee, and would be moving to regional competition. He also noted winter sports schedules concluding, and that curriculum scheduling for next year was beginning, with an eye towards expansion of the culinary arts, STEM and CTE classes.

Dr. Schott began his superintendents  naming upcoming budget meeting dates – on March 7th, the budget will be presented, followed by work sessions on March 10th and 14th, final presentation to the School Board on March 29th, followed by submission to the Board of Supervisors. He also reported that parents had been inquiring about what would be done with unused snow days, and he said a plan will be in place if there was still a surplus by the March Board meeting.

In action items, the Board approved personnel decisions as presented in closed session; approved two field trips; and approved the purchase of a new 24 passenger school bus via a lease-to-own agreement.



Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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