Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education Local School Improvement Council meeting Monday afternoon at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, the atmosphere was upbeat and students, staff and parents were excited to share how well the school is doing so far this year.

Student representative Makayla Ervine explained that she talked to several students and learned that, this year, the students are enjoying school more.

“The way people thought about school last year, they thought it was a waste of time,” Ervine said. “They didn’t have anything to look forward to and this year, they’ve found out there’s more things to look forward to. We have a better year this year, and people are showing more respect.”

The school has implemented a rewards program where teachers present students with Eagle Bucks which they can use for fresh air days and other things, such as snow cones. The reward system has the students showing  respect to each other, as well as to the teachers.

“If we get a certain amount of Eagle Bucks we can go outside for a fresh air day for a period of the day and you get snow cones and a bunch of different things,” Ervine said. “If a teacher sees you doing something nice for other people, they will give you an Eagle Buck.”

Ervine also reported the students are using the new bicycle fleet purchased with assistance from the Family Resource Network and students are excited about the new no homework policy.

“We don’t have homework this year – it’s not required,” she said. “You can get extra credit, but it’s not a whole lot. Except  Math 1 has to have it because it is a high school class. We still have homework in it, but it’s not a whole lot.”

Principal Ricky Sharp added to Ervine’s report, saying he implemented to no required homework policy to give the students a break from all the extra work they seem to have had in the past. Instead of being graded for the work, the students receive extra credit.

“I don’t want the kids penalized for anything because I feel like our day is long enough,” Sharp said. “We don’t need to be adding to it. The teachers can still send stories home to read. They can still do spelling tests and vocabulary quizzes, all those things. I went to the staff and asked them not to give so much credit for it that it would inflate the grade. I want the grade to be an honest reflection of the student’s ability.”

In his report, Sharp said things are going well at the school and the atmosphere is very positive. Along with the classwork, field trips and outdoor activities, he said he has started a new project with all the students.

“I have asked all classes and all grade levels to do two community service projects throughout the year,” Sharp said. “I feel it’s important. It’s our mission to produce productive citizens that contribute to society, and I feel we need to start that from day one here.”

Sharp opened the floor to LSIC members and parents George and Brooke Murphy, and Susan Ray all said they have seen a change in the school.

Ray said, as the Girl Scout leader, her scouts are less stressed since the no required homework policy was implemented. They can now enjoy the meetings and not worry about the homework that is waiting to be done.

The Murphys agreed, adding that the Eagle Bucks program has gone well, too.

As a treat for the board members, Karen Murphy’s kindergarten class performed an Alphabet song, which not only helps them learn the alphabet, but also the sounds the letters make. Murphy said the song is helping the students prepare for reading.

Murphy added that the students were excited all day about the meeting, asking “is it three yet?” The students were ready to “blow the socks off” the board members with their performance.

The board thanked Sharp, Ervine, Murphy, who is also LSIC president, and the LSIC members for their reports and shared appreciation for the school’s hospitality.

In updates:

• Pocahontas County High School forestry teacher Scott Garber gave an initial report on cruising timber on the board’s property in Green Bank. The board asked Garber if his forestry classes could do the work and Garber said he could work it into the class schedule.

Garber did not have a timeline in place, but he said once the students cruised the timber, he would bring them to a board meeting to give a report on their findings.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Crystal Kerr and Vicki Warner as volunteer cheerleading coaches at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective for the 2017-2018 school year.

• Crystal Kerr as volunteer assistant cheerleading coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2017-2018 school year.

• Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect between OWPR and Pocahontas County Board of Education for the Major Improvement Project at Pocahontas County High School known as PCHS MIP 69-501-2018, at the compensation rate of 7.5 percent of project. Contingent upon approval of the School Building Authority of West Virginia.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Employment of Derek Trull as academic interventionist at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective October 11, 2017 through May 25, 2017, at $20 per hour, three hours per day, as needed, not to exceed $7,000.

• Employment of Jimmy Vandevender as boys basketball coach at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective for the 2017-2018 season, at a supplement of $750.

• Employment of Vicki J. Vrable as custodian III at Pocahontas County High School, at state basic pay, effective October 11, for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year. Term of employment is 161 days. Term of employment shall be 220 days each year thereafter.

• Requested transfer of Kenneth J. Samples from school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, from current route to a new route, at state basic pay, effective October 11, for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year.

The next board meeting will be a Local School Improvement Council/Board of Education meeting, Monday, October 23, at 3 p.m. at Marlinton Elementary School.