Students kick off new school year

ELKINS – Students were in their seats with expectant smiles in Randolph and Tucker county schools Thursday, ready to begin a new educational year.

Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Terry George said the first day of school was exceptionally successful.

“I visited Elkins High, the Randolph Technical Center, Midland and Jennings Randolph Elementary schools,” George said. “All of our staff and students are very excited to be in school this year.”

George said the Harman School students’ transition to their new classrooms was smooth.

“I greeted the Harman students as they got off the bus and spoke with Tammie Daniels, principal of Harman School, this morning,” George said. “We welcomed the students and explained the school day procedure to them. We let them know we were excited they were with us in Elkins.”

Harman School was deemed unsafe after an entire plaster ceiling fell in one of the school’s classrooms during the July 4 weekend, bringing down 2 tons of material. No one was present at the time in the school, which was built in the 1950s.

Harman School students are now being taught at Elkins High School and the Randolph Technical Center by their own Harman School instructors. Pre-k through second-grade students are housed at Jennings Randolph Elementary School – intact as Harman School, with their own Harman School instructors. Students in grades 3 through 5 are housed intact – as Harman School – at Midland Elementary School.

MSES Consultants estimated emergency repairs to make Harman School safe for students will cost approximately $175,000.

“We have placed advertising for bids for the first phase of construction on Harman School,” George said. “We are looking forward to getting Harman School repaired and get the students back in their home school. This has been an adventure for most of them.”

George said the new schedule for classes at North Elementary went very well. Students there are beginning classes at about 7:15 a.m., about 85 minutes earlier than in past years. The change is part of a trial scheduled designed to create more instructional time for students.

“We will be making some minor adjustments with the bus schedules at North,” George said. “We have a few things to iron out, but things went well. (Assistant Superintendent) Mrs. (Pam) Hewitt went to North to check on their day.”

“I feel we are off to a successful start in Randolph County Schools,” George said. “Students are happy to be back in school and our staff is very enthusiastic – I am well pleased. We are here because we work for the kids.”

In Tucker County, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Eddie Campbell had two words to describe the first day of classes – “wonderful” and “fabulous.”

Campbell said he visited every county school Thursday and was impressed with the preparedness of not only the school buildings, but of the staff.

“I am impressed with the teachers who have created a positive atmosphere and climate for our students,” Campbell said. “The kids are excited to be back in school.”

With Harman School’s temporary closure, some Harman students are attending school in Tucker County. Campbell said the transition for those students went well.

“We have about a dozen Harman students attending classes in Tucker County – six at the high school and six more at Davis-Thomas Elementary Middle School,” Campbell said. “We had a meeting last week at the high school with the transition students to discuss busing and athletic eligibility. I wanted the students and parents to have the information they needed to make an informed decision.”

Campbell said he has been an administrator for 25 years and this year is at the top of the most positive opening days he has ever experienced.

Dr. Joe Super, superintendent of Barbour County Schools, said he was pleased so far with the beginning of instruction in his schools. Schools re-opened Wednesday in Barbour County.

“So far, we have a smooth transition back to school,” Super said. “I was out and visited five of the county schools and the students and teachers seemed happy to be back in classes.”

Super said the board received some late personnel resignations, so several classes began with qualified substitutes. He noted there is currently a substitute principal at Volga-Century and Junior Elementary schools.

“We have a pool of substitute administrative staff as well,” Super said. “We have a substitute for the chemistry/physics instructor at Philip Barbour High School. We received his resignation on Monday and classes started Wednesday – we are actively trying to find a qualified instructor but physics teachers don’t grow on trees.”

Super said the principal position at Volga-Century and Junior Elementary schools is a split position.

“Ideally, that job works on a 3-2 split where the principal would spend three days at one school and two days at the other, and then rotate the next week,” Super said. “Sometimes, the principal needs to be at both schools and they travel between – but you loose lots of hours due to windshield time.”

J. Andrew Sigman Jr. resigned from the split position on Monday, Super said, noting he position will be posted and the normal hiring procedure will be