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BOE considering habitat program

October 16, 2012
By Beth Christian Broschart - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

Officials discussed the possibility of creating the first schoolyard habitat program in West Virginia during Monday's Randolph County Board of Education meeting.

John Schmidt with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told board members he met with science teachers from Elkins High School who expressed an interest in the possibility of implementing the program on the school's property.

"We met in November to discuss the possible project," Schmidt said. "This would be the first schoolyard habitat program in the state."

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Schmidt described the proposed plans for the project.

"We would delineate the project area by installing even-spaced decorative posts around the perimeter of the area," Schmidt said. "All mowing in the project area would desist to allow for natural growth of native vegetation. We would also enhance a small existing wetlands area for water quality testing.

"This project would serve to develop an outdoor classroom," he said. "We would plant trees and they would serve for tree identification."

Schmidt said the EHS faculty, staff and principal are all on board with the idea.

Board member Ed Tyre asked Schmidt to contact the Boy Scouts.

"This would make an excellent Eagle Scout project," Tyre said.

Schmidt said there is no cost to Elkins High School for the project.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide the materials and services, or arrange to have them donated," Schmidt said. "Elkins High School, (Randolph Technical Center), students and teachers will volunteer their time for the labor."

Also at Monday's meeting, one student expressed her thanks for the items her school received through funding provided by the levy passed in 2010.

Pickens School junior Alexis Chandler, who serves as the student representative to the board, gave a power point presentation detailing the benefits the levy funding provided.

"The levy has been a great blessing to Pickens School," Chandler said. "With levy funds and community support, we are only improving and, if you ask us, the sky is the limit!"

Chandler said desktop computers were purchased for students in kindergarten through second grade. Also, laptop computers were given to students in grades nine through 12 to use 24 hours a day.

"The school also gained access to a fiber optic internet connection," Chandler said. "This provides us with much faster and dependable internet service."

Other enhancements to the school included out of school trips to Seneca Caverns, Spruce Knob, Carnegie Science Center and Valley Worlds of Fun. Musician Mick Souter visited with students and presented his "Celebrate West Virginia" program. The school purchased a camera and subscriptions to Discovery Education and Encyclopedia Britannica.

Chandler said teachers received supplies including science equipment, shelving and gymnasium supplies, along many other items for the classroom. The school bought a portable sound system and other materials for music classes. Archery equipment was purchased for the school archery team. Funds were also used to expand the parking lot and finish the athletic/recreation field, she said.

Chandler noted that Pickens School was named a West Virginia Exemplary School for 2011 to 2012.

"We are proud to have received this distinguished accreditation status," Chandler said. "Along with the hard work and dedication by the students, staff, parents and community, we feel that this award comes to us because of the many extra things that our school received because of levy funds."

The next regular meeting of the Randolph County Board of Education is slated for 6 p.m. Nov. 5 at the board of education central office.



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