Traditional school calendar adopted for next year

The proposed balanced calendar, which has been the topic of discussion for many Upshur County Board of Education meetings, will not go into effect for the upcoming school year.

Superintendent Scott Lampinen said the traditional calendar once again will be adopted after an “overwhelming” vote recently made by the calendar committee. However, the Board of Education and the committee will get a very early start on the 2014-15 school calendar, and they will evaluating a balanced calendar. Officials will discuss the calendar at upcoming meetings and will begin the calendar planning with the start of the new school year.

The first instructional day of school will be Aug. 22. Classes will end June 6.

The balanced calendar was optional for the 2013-14 school year, but it may be state-mandated for subsequent school years. The balanced calendar would shorten the traditional summer break, and students would begin the school year earlier and remain in school later. The number of educational days would remain the same as a traditional school calendar, but there would be longer breaks included within the school term.

The concept that had been discussed in previous meetings would have each nine-week grading period separated by a break lasting about three weeks.

The balanced calendar proposal has met with some controversy because parents worry it could affect vacation plans, summer jobs and other activities. Many who supported the calendar proposal say it will give children time to refresh between semesters. Also, it will be academically better for students because it will reduce the amount of time educators spend reteaching content after school resumes from summer break.

In other matters, three seniors at Buckhannon-Upshur High School presented their senior projects to school board members during the meeting.

Seth Blake’s senior project was to research the mental effect of music as it relates to stress in a high school setting. He conducted the study with a group of 20 students who have diverse backgrounds and interests in music. Blake asked them questions and had them rate their stress level and the song. Blake used studies from Yale on colors and emotions to further his tests.

“I found some pretty interesting results,” Blake said. “Music was a very good tool in the academic standpoint to excel students, not only cognitively, but dropping stress and raising emotions. If you’re happy, you’re going to learn.”

Blake said he will study music education and performing arts at West Virginia Wesleyan College in the fall.