Pocahontas Educators & Parents Learn about 7-12 Grade Schools in Pendleton County

At their October 24th regular meeting, the Pocahontas County Board of Education heard a presentation by Marlinton Middle School Principal Dustin Lambert about an informational visit to Pendleton County Middle-High School.

The trip was suggested by School Superintendent Terrence Beam who felt it was important to learn how other counties have made the transition to 7th through 12th grade schools safely – and there are many counties in West Virginia with 7th through 12th grade schools, and even some with pre-K through 12th grade schools. Eventually the 7th and 8th grade students here in Pocahontas County – probably 3 to 5 years from now – will be moved into the same building as the High School if the Excess School Levy passes, and possibly even if it does not pass.

To accompany him on the visit, Mr. Lambert selected several parents – Rhonda Woodruff and Chad Baldwin; the SBA Project Architect, Blair Frier and fellow educators who, in addition to Mr. Lambert, were:  Melissa Hill-Doss, Marsha Beverage, Nebraska Scotchie and Cammy. The main purposes of the trip were to learn how Pendleton County designed and operated their 7th to 12th grade school and they addressed the safety concerns as expressed by Pocahontas County parents about having a 7th through 12th grade school.

Mr. Lambert gives an overview of what he observed at the Pendleton County Middle-High School.

“There are 10 Middle school Teachers for their 7th and 8th grade” said Dustin. “There are 430 students, 7 through 12. A hundred and fifty of them are in 7th and 8th grade. This is the most important part of this presentation. The school has evolved into this dynamic, thriving educational system since 1999. It did not happen overnight –I can’t tell you how many times the Principal told me that. ‘Mr. Lambert, this is not something that you’re just going to be able throw together and the public accept it overnight.’ Since 1999 they have been perfecting this High school.”

Dustin gives us the key to the success of 7th through 12th education.

“I can tell you from what we saw” said Dustin “It is absolutely very unique how they have their setup with their 7th and 8th grade – they’re separate from everything else.”

They talked with 7th grade students at the Pendleton High School to see if parental concerns are justified, as Dustin explains.

“We talked with several 7th graders because parents in Pocahontas county are concerned about their 7th graders being with 12th graders” said Dustin. “So I sat down with several students and I said, ‘look, were you afraid to come to the high school?’  ‘Well yea, a little bit, I was a little afraid.’ ‘Were you intimidated by those 12th graders?’ ‘Yea, I was intimidated by em’ Well, what happened when you actually got here?’ And every single one of those students we interviewed said that they do not fear being at school, there is no issue with them being with a 12th grader because they don’t ever see em. So  they had made this system work. And I am convinced we can do it here in Pocahontas County, especially with the 7th and 8th graders being completely separate from those upper classes. There is very little interaction between those Middle Schoolers and those High Schoolers.”

In other actions the Board approved routine financial reports, statements and vender payments. They approved several memorandums of understanding, one with the “Mobile Dentist” and another with North Central West Virginia Community Action Association regarding the Head Start Program, they also approved a partnership agreement with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission for a grant to improve teacher quality and they improved an acceptable use policy and form.

The Board approved a short Personnel Agenda which can be found with this story at alleghenymountainradio.org.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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