The Pocahontas County Board of Education approved two new courses and one new educational program at its March 15 meeting.
Eryn Neyer, of West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, explained the proposal to establish the Farm-to-School Program at each of the county schools. She said the six components of that program will be:
• To expose students to Agriculture.
• To prepare students to grow their own food.
• To teach students to develop and manage growing spaces.
• To help sell youth grown produce.
• To establish a marketplace for youth grown produce.
• To develop youth agricultural entrepreneurship.
She suggested some good targets to accomplish the project’s goals might be maple syrup production, high tunnels, raised garden beds and fruit orchards at the schools.
Neyer said they have $11,869 available from a USDA grant for supplies and have also applied to the Snowshoe Foundation for another $20,000. She suggested that money could possibly be used to purchase equipment for maple syrup production at Pocahontas County High School.
The board liked the concept of this program and approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition.
Justin Dilley asked the board to approve an Introduction to Land Surveying dual credit elective course at PCHS in conjunction with Glenville State College. He said Pocahontas would be the only county in West Virginia offering this, adding that surveying is a good career option since the average age of a licensed land surveyor in the state is about 64. The board voted to approve that course, which could also count as two college credits at Glenville State.
Cammy Kesterson asked the board to approve a new business course, Career Work Skills Training, which would have both a classroom component and a work place component. She suggested this will help prepare students for the workplace with the proper workplace skills and business communication skills. She said it would also familiarize them with a sense of professionalism in the workplace, as well as prepare them to be competitive in obtaining career work. The board approved adding this class to the curriculum at PCHS.
The board held the second and final public hearing on the 2022-2023 school calendar then voted to approve it.
School cook Valerie Lambert addressed the board and requested that the current school cooks be allowed to have some input into selecting the replacement for Lori Doolittle, who is resigning as Food Service Director for the schools at the end of this school year
Lambert also suggested that the board consider purchasing food items from the USDA instead of the current private companies. She provided an example of the difference in costs: The schools are now buying a case of mixed fruit from Gordon foods for $65 and the USDA sells the same case for $4.
In other matters:
Superintendent Terrance Beam recognized winners of the elementary and middle school Young Writers Contest, which was shared in The Pocahontas Times last week.
Beam congratulated the PCHS Math Field Day Team for winning the Regional Finals, and also Tracey Valach for being invited to speak about the Adventure Pocahontas Program to the West Virginia Superintendents State Conference this summer.
Beam said Sara Stull and Katlyn Simmons, both 11th grade students, attended the Upward Bound Leadership Conference, and Sara won an award for Exemplary Leadership Skills at that conference.
Sarah Hamilton and Ruth Bland attended a student-teacher job fair put on by West Virginia State University and the University of Charleston. Hamilton spoke about this, saying there were 36 education students in attendance and although other states offered more pay and better benefits – such as Maryland offering a starting salary of $60,000 plus a $25,000 signing bonus – eight students still seemed very interested in Pocahontas County’s presentation, especially the Adventure Pocahontas Program
In miscellaneous items, the board approved:
• an overnight trip for up to seven PCHS CTE students, plus CTE teachers Duane Gibson and Justin Kerr to travel to Fairmont State University March 24 – 26 to attend the SKILLS USA competition.
• minor revisions to the school re-entry plan which are consistent with the current WVDE COVID mitigation strategies and they voted to remove the plastic carousels in the school cafeterias, as they are no longer needed.
The next board meeting will begin with a LSIC meeting at Marlinton Elementary School Tuesday, March 29, at 3 p.m., followed by the regular meeting.