Senate confirms Justice nominations for state BOE, others

By Jeff Jenkins in News

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Senate voted Tuesday to confirm 28 executive nominations made by Gov. Jim Justice to various boards and commissions.

The confirmations include two new members of the state Board of Education; retired Charleston Catholic High School Principal Debra Sullivan and Elkins resident Joseph Wallace. Sullivan’s term ends in November 2025, Wallace’s in November 2024. The two are expected to participate in the state Board’s monthly meeting scheduled to begin Wednesday afternoon.

Elmer Coppoolse, of Bethesda, Md., was confirmed for a seat on the WVU Board of Governors with term ending June 30, 2018.

The Senate also confirmed four members to the Council for Community and Technical College Education including a three-year appointment for former Mingo County Delegate Harry Keith White.

Former state Senator Jack Yost (D-Brooke) is the newest member of the state Unemployment Compensation Board of Review. His term stretches until Jan. 1, 2023.

The confirmations were approved on a 30-0 vote. There were four senators absent.

Bishop Donahue holding graduation ceremony pending closure appeal

By Shauna Johnson in News
McMECHEN, W.Va. — Bishop Donahue High School’s graduation ceremony Tuesday could mark the end of the school, at least for now.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston announced in January to close the school because of declining student enrollment and resources being devoted to Bishop Donahue and Wheeling Central Catholic High School.

Wheeling Central Catholic is more than five miles from the Bishop Donahue campus.

“Hopefully it’s not the last graduating class,” said Norm Stenger, president of the Save Bishop Donahue Foundation and a 1966 graduate of the private school.

“We all know those students who’ve had four wonderful years at Bishop Donahue, excellent education, academics, sports, extracurricular,” Stenger said.

The Save Bishop Donahue Foundation was formed after the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston announced the pending closure of the school in January. Beginning this fall, plans call for Bishop Donahue students to attend Wheeling Central Catholic.

Diocese officials have called the closure the “fiscally and academically responsible decision.”

The closure was recommended in 2010 after a study from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Catholic Education.

Declining enrollment was one factor cited. Total student enrollment at Bishop Donahue was just above 100 this school year, with only 15 students in the freshman class.

Stenger’s roots run deep at Bishop Donahue. “I represent all the alumni, the Donahue community, the current students, ones yet to come, everybody — the whole Donahue family,” he said.

Mary Sue Rodriguez, a Bishop Donahue Alumni Council chairperson and 1973 graduate, said Tuesday’s ceremony is going to be a “very sad graduation.”

“We feel that it doesn’t really need to close,” she said.

Rodriguez mentioned they tried to keep the school open.

“We started the save the school foundation, and it raised a lot of money really fast,” she said. “We had a lot of pledges to keep the school open.”

The closure was appealed to Rome with help from Philip Gray, a canon lawyer and president of the St. Joseph Foundation. That appeal was still pending Tuesday and there was no timeline for a decision. Friday is the last day of the school year at Bishop Donahue.

“We’re as optimistic today as we were the first day when we filed the appeal,” Stenger said. “We think we have a very good reason to keep it open. We’ve really never been told why it’s closing.”

Rodriguez said Bishop Donahue’s story will not end when classes conclude, noting alumni events such as class reunions.

“People will get together because that’s how it is,” she said. “Whenever anything happens in the community or in the school, you can always count on your fellow alumni to be there.”

The graduation ceremony is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at St. James Church in McMechen.

Alex Thomas contributed to this story.

Fayette County school board approves closure, consolidation plan

By MetroNews Staff in News
OAK HILL, W.Va. — The Fayette County Board of Education voted Tuesday to close seven schools over a two-year period, as well as reconfigure and consolidate the remaining schools for students and create a new institution.

The board voted 4-1, with board member Patsy Holliday voting against the measure recommended by Fayette County Schools Superintendent Terry George.

George said after the meeting the plan will benefit students by allowing them to have more opportunities and resources.

“It will provide our students an enhanced curriculum,” George said, adding facilities will be more conducive for students.

The vote followed 14 separate hearings beginning on April 25 regarding schools being considered for closure.

The plan would change the number of schools in the system from 18 to 12.

At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, Anstead Middle School will be closed, and Midland Trail High School will enroll students between sixth and 12th grades.

After the 2018-2019 school year concludes, the following actions will take place:

— Rosedale and Mount Hope Elementary Schools will close;
— Collins Middle School will be reconfigured fifth-grade through eighth-grade students;
— New River Elementary School will be turned into thrid-grade through fifth-grade institution;
— A new school, New Oak Hill PK-2, will be used for pre-kindergarten to second-grade classes;
— A closure of Fayetteville and Gatewood Elementary Schools;
— A reconfiguration of Fayetteville High School into a school for pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students;
— Meadow Bridge High School will be closed;
— Meadow Bridge High students will attend Midland Trail High School or Greenbrier West High School in Greenbrier County;
— Meadow Bridge Elementary will be renovated into a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade institution;
— the closure of Valley Elementary School; and
—Valley High School will be renovated to create a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school.

According to George, around 30 people attended the meeting, with most voicing in favor of the plan.

The West Virginia Board of Education will have to approve the measure. It is not yet known when they will vote on the proposal.

Wayne graduates walk the halls of elementary schools

WAYNE – Next week, the Wayne High School Class of 2017 will take its last walk together as one cohesive unit on graduation day.
But before that last walk, the seniors banded together to lead younger students across the the county by example Tuesday morning, visiting three elementary schools to showcase their personal and class achievements.
The two-year traditional graduation walk was implemented by Principal Sara Stapleton after a faculty member saw news coverage from a school in the Midwest taking on the act.
“It gives our students a way to give back to the feeder system we have here in Wayne County and to show these younger kids they have something to look forward to,” Stapleton said.
Senior Kyle Powers, who attended Lavalette Elementary School both as a student and during the walk Tuesday, said it was great to return to the school and see it in a different perspective.
“At the time, we didn’t think anything of it, we were just little kids going to school,” he said. “But to be older and to return to see what they are seeing is just surreal. It was just a few years ago we were there in their shoes. This has been a really cool opportunity.”
Powers said he would give those students the advice to always try their hardest, no matter what.
“Even if it may seem like you can’t finish a test or you can’t pass a class, just always try your hardest and make the most of everything – especially high school,” he said.
Lavalette’s interim principal, Kelli Bonar, said it was great to have the seniors at the school to set an example for the children.
“It gives our students something to look forward to in the future, and it lets them know that at one point those graduates were just like them,” she said. “It is also a great way to kind of see the high school give back in a way to the feeder schools. I would love to see something like this come from Spring Valley as well.”
The class of 2017 will graduate 170 students May 19 at WHS.