Consolidation for Enslow & Beverly Hills Middle Schools

January 18, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. “The board would like to close Enslow at the end of the 2010-2011 school
year and send the roughly 250 students to Beverly Hills for one year to
help unite the two schools.” The first state-mandated meeting for the consolidation process is this Wednesday evening http://www.hera… I have been-there-done-that and am not sure if I can fight this fight for other people who might complain it isn’t my fight…But, if your kids are going to go to Enslow or BHMS, you might put it on your calendar. I am not sure how shoving all the kids into the “turf” of one set is going to help unite them–I would think it would be better to move them right into the new school at the same time, but, what do I know?

yeah, well, they already consolidated my kids’ elementary and their middle school. This is the next one down the line. The BOE really wants to consolidated EVERY school in the county with at least one other and have NO neighborhood schools left. They have no solid evidence
that it will either save money or help the children’s learning (we have lovely high dropout rates at our consolidated high schools and they don’t know why that is).  Ugh.

Text from the HD article:

First public hearing for middle schools closure to take place Wednesday

January 18, 2010 @ 12:00 AM


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — The Cabell County Board of Education is taking the next steps in closing Enslow and Beverly Hills middle schools when it conducts public hearings at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, (Enslow) and Monday, Jan. 25, (Beverly Hills) in the board room at 2850 5th Ave.

The meetings are being held in accordance with code to give the public a chance to express their support or concern for the plan the school board has put in place. If all goes as planned, the two student bodies would move into a new middle school at the former Marshall University Heights property off U.S. 60 near Wal-Mart.

The new school, which is being funded by the state’s School Building Authority and will be a green school, isn’t scheduled to open until the 2013 school year. But Superintendent William Smith said it was important to start the mandated process of hearings as early as possible.

The board would like to close Enslow at the end of the 2010-2011 school year and send the roughly 250 students to Beverly Hills for one year to help unite the two schools. A final decision will be made no later than May 2010.

The two schools would spend the 2011-2012 school year together, as well as the first semester of the 2012-2013 year During the second semester, the students and staff are scheduled to move into the new middle school.

The new school, which was approved for a $19 million West Virginia School Building Authority grant last spring, was awarded on Sept. 30 an additional $2 million to make it a “green school.” It also will serve as a learning laboratory to teach students and the public about their impact on the environment.

Mike O’Dell, Cabell County’s assistant superintendent over operations, said in the fall that his goal for the project is to meet specifications to qualify it for LEED Silver Designation. LEED stands for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design in the Green Building Rating System.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, silver is in the third level of four LEED designations. To be considered silver, the new construction project must meet certain requirements in a variety of factors, including sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design.

Requirements can be earned simply by including a water-efficient landscape design, using recycled material as part of the building materials, on-site renewable energy and air management.

Information about the hearings

The hearings will be recessed until the following day in the event that comments extend until 11 p.m. All reconvened hearings will be recessed at 11 p.m., if necessary.

If, when the public hearing is called to order, it is determined that the board room does not have sufficient space for the audience, the location is subject to change.

Written reasons and supporting data in relation to the proposed closure will be available for inspection in the superintendent’s office for 30 days leading up to the public hearing.

Those who want to comment or ask a question must sign up, starting one hour before and concluding at the start of the hearing. Names cannot be added at a reconvened hearing. Names will be called in order, and all questions shall be initially directed at the superintendent, who may answer or designate another school official to do so.

Speaking time per person may be limited, however, not less than three minutes. Time from one person cannot be given to another.

Brown Bag Enrichment Lunches at Southside/September schedule

August 27, 2009

brown_bagThe first two Brown Bag Enrichment Lunches for 4th & 5th graders are coming up soon!  Each of these is a one-time chance to meet with a volunteer presenter right here at school and learn about something interesting!

Tuesday, September 1st

Mrs. Susan Korstanje (Kathleen’s mom and a published author) will come help


A creative writing workshop.  She’ll bring some fun exercises & ideas to help you write your own stories, how to get them published, and give you help getting started.


Friday, September 4th

Mr. Bill Patton (Annie’s grandfather & well-read history buff)

Will come talk about


He’ll tell you how Civil War General John Hunt Oley is connected to his own family and how interesting it can be to learn about history!

(if you want to read it, there is an article in the Herald-Dispatch on Aug 7 about Gen. Oley and can be found online)

Contact Grace to make a reservation (Southside students or children of presenters only)  and then bring your lunch to Mrs. Morehouse’s room during lunch & recess that day.  There is LIMITED SPACE.  You’ll get more info later!

We are taking signups (first come, first served, unless your child has already participated, then we will try to let everyone have a chance before getting “seconds”) for interested students to join an adult from the community with a special interest.  Each group will be small (only 15-20 students) and completely voluntary.  The children will decide which or if they wish to come.  The only cost is for the milk or lunch if your child gets that (it will go on their lunch bill, so free/reduced/regular ought to not be an issue).  The presenters are all volunteers!

Upcoming schedule:

Presenter Subject for grade day/date
Susan Korstanje You Write Stories 4th & 5th Tuesday, 9/1
Bill Patton History in our lives 4th & 5th Friday, 9/4
Rebecca Mazzone Mo Willems stories 2nd & 3rd Wednesday, 9/9
Grace Gooding Insects/Entomology 4th & 5th  (will do all lunches at some point) Monday, 9/14  ?
Andrew Gooding Railroad Safety 2nd & 3rd (will do all lunches at some point) Friday, 9/18
Stacy Bisker Image Transfer/art K & 1st Friday 9/25
Jennifer Reynolds Costume Design 4th & 5th Monday, 9/28
Cassandra Skaggs Gardening K & 1st ?
Faye Suer Quilting 4th & 5th ?
Mr. Hanna “Vincent J. Muggs”   ?

Volunteers needed for Brown Bag Enrichment Lunches

August 7, 2009


Do you live in the Huntington area? Do you have a cool hobby, interest, talent that you would like to share with some self-selected elementary school children during a Brown Bag Enrichment Lunch this fall?? I am looking for people to spend 1 to 3 lunch hours at Southside Elementary in this volunteer program… Harmonica players (or other musicians), drama coaches (and other artists), geologists (and other science folks), architects, construction workers, poets, historians, police officers, storytellers.  People who know about dinosaurs or model trains or flower arranging or interior design.  Almost anyone with a skill or a hobby or a cool job or interesting information!

I am working out all the details and the schedule now… Comment or email me!

No Child Left Bored! More interesting articles…

July 28, 2009

On the Schoolwide Enrichment Model, especially about brown-bag lunch enrichment:


AND, we could also have more read-aloud “Book Hooks”, possibly on different days for brown bag lunches?  The SEM-R program is about READING, specifically.  I have a separate book on that… 🙂

And I LOVE differentiated learning!

Brown Bag lunch enrichment clusters!

July 27, 2009

At this Renzulli model school, the kids have visitors or whatever come talk to them during brown bag lunch clusters.  This sounds like another doable thing.  right?  It’s gotta cost next to nothing, doesn’t take much time out of the regular day.  Just have to find people to come talk/show/demo and a space to put them with some kids.

Community Brown Bag Series

Experts from agencies, businesses, non-profit, corporate and community arenas come and present their expertise as the students enjoy a brown bag lunch. Program series are student interest-driven – students select the topics they want to attend

And Jeanette suggested PhysicsQuest.  I didn’t look through it all yet, but one of the options they send you the materials and everything and it is free.  🙂

I am the PTO enrichment chair.  So there.  Guess I will need to be talking this up.  Still working on reading the book for SEM by Renzulli & Reis.  Did I give you the link yet for the online TRAINING they have?  I think a lot of it is for the RenzulliLearning online program, but still!  I sent a request for a price quote & info about how to get the online program either for Cabell County Schools, or for Southside Elementary, or for Huntington Essential School (or whatever we might call it) or for my family.  The family/home price was listed online ($179 for parent & one child, add $99 for additional child).

Read up about the Schoolwide Enrichment Model

July 26, 2009

I’m reading the Renzulli book right now.  Sounds good.  Three different “levels” of enrichment–level one easy (you provide them with lots of info and experiences);  level two more complicated but ought to be doable (group training activities–thinking & feeling processes);  group three is investigations into real problems–they do those on their own for something they are interested in.  He talks about the three interlocking circles of “above average  ability”, “creativity” and “task commitment”.  If you have a smart kid, or even a not so smart kid, they learn more when they are interested in what they are learning!  Shocker, huh?

Some of another of Renzulli’s book can be read online here.

Duke Gifted Letter

July 26, 2009

In case you haven’t already subscribed to it.

Duke Gifted Letter

I was just reading an article about curriculum differentiation…

And an article on homeschooling gifted kids.

My heart is still calling for me to do something…what?

July 26, 2009

I go through this over and over again. I have smart kids. My husband and I were both smart kids. Even though I like our elementary school, I am not too thrilled about the lack of something being done to STRETCH and challenge my boys. I know that their regular classroom teachers are overburdened as it is, but they need something more. I could do it at home (and I do try), but when they come home from school they don’t much want me to make them do more. If there could be a way for them to be properly differentiated for at school, this would make me happier. They go to a gifted program, but that will really only last during elementary school (they are phasing it, I would say OUT, but the district claims it is going to be different) in another year or so. Plus, I have not found that the gifted program does much to encourage them to think more or more deeply.


The sermon that Pastor Paul gave this morning about things not happening because of a lack of resources but a lack of faith has gotten me all worked up again. About a different type of school. But I see walls and limits everywhere I look. Getting kids, getting teachers, getting space, worrying about scheduling and transportation. I have NOT homeschooled my kids. I think about it all the time. I don’t want them to miss out on some of the socialization they get there. Although, I admit, some of it I could do without, lol.

I am wondering, today (and I can also manage to talk myself out of it while I’m describing it!), if this is something that is doable. If you’ve been around me much over the last three years you know I really want to have a project-learning school for grade 6-12 in my town so I don’t have to send my kids to the big high school which I detest with the 70% graduation rate and very limited AP offerings (what is the point of a big school if it doesn’t offer more than a small school–which is how they convinced the taxpayers to build and consolidate??). But that is such a big thing to undertake. Made worse by the fact that there is no legislation in WV to allow charter schools. It would have to be private. I would not be able, in this economy, with everyone’s health insurance riding on their jobs, and their pensions, etc, to convince the really great public school teachers to come teach at it. Even if I had tons of money and could make it free.

Who would want to move their kids to a brand-new school with no track record? I keep wondering if there was a way to start it smaller. Could we start a one-day-a-week program that was basically a private-pull-out resource? Would we compete too much with the EAGLE school? Should I concentrate on that instead? Legally, parents can take their kids out of school to be homeschooled or tutored or whatever, even for just a few hours a week, and at our school the principal would let us without a big fight.

Could I find some sort of multi-age curriculum to allow kids to come someplace for one day in the week to do projects and thought-invoking and thought-provoking work?? Could we get kids to come? Would their parents be willing to pay a small fee to pay a “real” teacher?

I have tried the TAG program at school. I have tried doing after-school enrichment with a book/science club–which has been possibly worthwhile, but frustrating for me. I have had pipe dreams of schools. I have buildings in my head that will be available in a few months. I have lists of people who might be willing to give grant money.

If a one-day thing was successful, perhaps that could lead to a real school?

I need emotional support, lol!

I need kids & parents who would try it–they would not have to be “gifted” but they would need to be interested in learning and working and behaving well-enough that it wouldn’t be a child-care-prison job…

I am off to do research. Would love to hear from you about it.

Sample questions for Westest 2–instead of going to fast food place

April 29, 2009

Westest 2 sample questions By goodnessgraciouswv I complained to the CCBOE administration about them only having the sample test questions for the new Westest 2 available at fast food restaurants on the tray liners. They still don’t seem to get my issue with this, but sent me some of the questions. Not really the point, but, I will try to put them here for you, too. 🙂

Sample Westest 2 questions

FYI, these are also available online at
I hope to find out from Dr. Smith if they are available in print somewhere locally for parents/public as well.

from HD: Thomas McChesney’s guest column

February 20, 2009

Thomas McChesney: Superintendent insults Highlawn community with his comments
February 19, 2009 @ 09:45 PM
The Herald-Dispatch

Comments about the Highlawn neighborhood made by Cabell County school Superintendent Bill Smith in a Feb. 12 article were insulting and disgraceful and illustrate that our Board of Education is completely out of touch with the community it serves.

Let me tell you about Highlawn. It’s filled with friendly people, affordable historic homes, parks and tree-lined streets. It’s convenient to schools and Marshall University, to entertainment and employment. It’s safe, walkable and a very desirable place to live.

The Highlawn Neighborhood Association brings neighbors together to reduce crime, fight litter, plant flowers and host community picnics. We’re partnering with the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District to upgrade two parks. We’re partnering with schools, businesses and churches to help the needy. We’re working on walking paths, public art and recycling. We are, in fact, creating a great neighborhood where people who desire a high quality of life can restore classic homes and be part of a real community.

I fail to understand why it’s so difficult for our public schools to work with the community when private schools seem to excel at it. They raise private money, use existing buildings and land, have increasing enrollment and high college-going rates. We believe that education is a shared responsibility and is of primary concern to our community. It should be a collaborative effort.

For two years, we tried to partner with the board to locate a middle school in Highlawn. We did so because we wanted to help create a school that would be an ideal educational environment for children and an asset to our community.

For two years the board ignored our offers to help and shunned our requests for consideration. From Mr. Smith’s comments, it’s now clear that board members did so because they have a complete disrespect for our community and disregard for the environment in which children, staff, teachers and administrators learn, work and play. That is a sad condition for a public servant.

Highlawn will continue on its path to be a great community again even without Enslow Middle School. I question whether our children will do as well.

Thomas McChesney is a resident of Huntington’s Highlawn neighborhood.