Hello and good evening. I first wish to thank every parent, every guardian and every community member that helped our students to continue learning since March 17th. In past “State of the Schools” addresses I have begun by talking about academics and facilities. This year, I begin with our district’s response to the global pandemic.
Doddridge County schools was better prepared than most districts to respond to remote learning. Each student had a device issued to them at the beginning of the year and our teachers and students have been trained on these devices as well. We have also hired a great technology department with technology integration specialists in each school. We were prepared for remote learning because we have been preparing our students to learn on 21st century technology. Even though we were better prepared, we still needed and appreciated the support of parents during the final months of the school year.
I want to highlight our food service program and our transportation department and their response to the closing of schools. Our cooks, Child Nutrition Department, Maintenance Department, bus drivers and Transportation Department have worked many long hours to ensure that each student that needed food received it. Every child, no matter how remote, was able to receive food deliveries twice a week. It is vital that our students maintain a healthy diet and have adequate food during this time. Thank you for all of your efforts to ensure our students remain healthy and on target.
Our preparation for 21st century learning also included preparing the county for broadband internet. Last Fall we were approached by the Doddridge County Commission with an offer to partner with the Commission to bring broadband internet throughout the county. Internet provider Citynet was proposing to bring high-speed internet throughout the county. Our Board immediately said “yes.” Not only did we agree to contribute monetarily, we also saw this as an opportunity to partner with Citynet to provide new educational opportunities to our students. Using our longstanding association with national curriculum provider JASON Learning, we designed two curriculums leveraging our partnerships.
The first new course is a business class. This fall we will be offering a new entrepreneurial course. This will be a “shark-tank” type course where students will design a new business and then “pitch” it to business leaders. Doddridge County students will create a call-center for first time internet users to help them get on-line. Citynet has agreed to provide professional mentors to help our students throughout the process. It means that our students will be engaged in learning about entrepreneurial possibilities in a real-life application. Years from now, our students will be able to say that they played a meaningful part in the deployment of county-wide broadband.
The second new course will be in our science department. It will look at the math and science around rural broadband development. How do wireless radio waves travel in a hilly terrain? What is Geographic Information System Mapping tools and how are they used to determine tower placement? What technologies are used to reach areas that are too remote for wireless connectivity? These questions will be answered in a systematic manner using science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) methodologies.
We do not know how long this pandemic will last, but Doddridge County Schools will continue to prepare our students. These classes are two examples of preparing our students for the jobs of the future.
We will also be preparing our students for future employment through our new Career and Technical Education (CTE) facility being constructed next to the bus garage. This new facility will house our maintenance department on one side and, in the other half, provide four completer pathways: Diesel Equipment Technology, Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Plumbing, and Oil and Gas Development. Students can graduate and immediately begin work or seek additional training and certifications. Doddridge County graduates will have a leg up on these sought-after jobs. Having a well-trained workforce is also key for bringing businesses to our area.
2019 saw the opening of the new Cline Stansberry stadium. Throughout football season we had several full stadiums to watch our undefeated Bulldogs go all the way to the State Championship Game in Wheeling. Congratulations to the players, coaches and staff that brought so many wonderful memories for our first year in the new stadium. Unfortunately, our baseball and track facilities will have to wait to be opened. And we will also have to wait to play softball in the upgraded facility.
Our district continues to rank near the top of the state in the state’s General Summative Assessment. We continue to prepare our students for their future whether that future includes college, trade school, or the workforce. 23% of DCHS students took at least one Advanced Placement Exam in the last recorded year. This is one of the highest percentages in the state for a school our size. This placement test means that students that pass may not have to take the course in college. The district picks up the fee for the test and we offer six AP courses at the High School. This year the General Summative Assessment was not given, but I am certain we remain one of the very top districts in the state.
Heidi Bee and Carter Lipscomb, juniors at Doddridge County High School, were selected to represent the high school as 2020 JASON Argonauts. The Argonaut program sends students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to study with leading scientists across the United States and the world. This November, Carter will be attending the Design Thinking, Innovation and Entrepreneurship expedition in Silicon Valley in California. Heidi will be attending the Forensic Science and Public Health expedition in Washington, D.C. in September. Each year our students return to DCHS excited to share all that they have
This last year also saw the entrance of a new varsity competition: eSports. Computer gaming is one of the fastest growing activities across the world. The sport provides opportunities for students to acquire critical communication, collaboration and problem solving skills. Again, their season was cut short, but we look forward to future competitions next year.
Doddridge County High School students received many honors and scholarships. One student was selected as the state winner of the Heisman High School Scholarship. Griffin Devericks won the award which is given to our nation’s most esteemed high school scholar-athletes. Griffin was also our High School’s valedictorian. The High School’s HOBY selections were Tessa Sleeth and Taylor Davis. The Girls’ State representative is Raine Fritz. We did not have a Boys’ State representative this year.
Doddridge County Schools’ 97.40% graduation rate topped the state in four-year graduation rate during the last reporting year. Maintaining a high graduation rate shows that young people in our county are becoming equipped to step into adulthood with a first-rate education and are able to enter directly into the workforce or go to college or trade school. It demonstrates how our teachers and staff build connections and relationships with our students individually and work with them to succeed.
This last year I highlighted students at each building by interviewing them and placing the video on social media. I looked forward each week to these “Friday Features.” I was amazed at all the remarkable hobbies and future plans of our students. I wish to thank all the students that participated.
Even though we do not have General Summative Assessment data, we do have information regarding student achievement.
At the Elementary School 39 students made the A honor roll first semester and 53 students made the A honor roll in the second semester. During distance learning we were praised by the Imagine Learning Program for being able to maintain significant usage. 70% of our ELA students and 75% of our Math students were able to maintain regular usage remotely. I think this is a great testament to our students, parents and teachers.
The Middle School showed great improvement on the STAR benchmark which tests math and reading. School wide the Middle School showed a 41% growth in reading and 53% growth in math. Our 8th grade showed a 98% growth in math level between the fall and winter testing! This means that our 8th grade math students progressed nearly a grade level in one-half of the school year. 208 students at the Middle School maintained an “A” average for the school year.
The Middle School saw another successful year in sports. Girls’ Cross-Country were crowned LKC Champions, as were the Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball teams. The Football team was the LKC runner-up and the Cheerleading squad was runner-up at the Sweetheart Showdown cheer competition. Makenna Curran and Karlee Jozwick were our Golden Horseshoe winners. This year also saw Doddridge County Middle School win first place in the Pumpkin Drop competition at WVU. Over 300 teams took turns dropping their pumpkins off the 11th floor of the Engineering Science Building in an enclosure engineered to withstand the fall. A team from our Middle School landed their pumpkin unharmed one foot two inches from the target. Each of our competing teams did well. The Middle School saw eight projects from the Social Science Fair go on to regional competition.
Our High School sport had a great year. In fact, Doddridge County High School won the single A boy’s division of the WVSSAC MVB Cup Championship. This award is given to the school based on final standings of its teams and on past graduation rates. As mentioned before, our Football Team had a fantastic year. They won a school record 13 games, where LKC Champions and the State Runner-Up. We placed five players on the All State 1st team including captain Hunter America. Our Wrestling team had another tremendous year. They finished 4th in the state, had three LKC Champions, two regional champions and qualified 7 for the state. The Girls Cross Country team placed two on the first team all-conference and all-region and one selected on the 2nd team all-state and finished fourth at the state meet. The Boys Cross Country team had three all-conference selections, two all-region and one on the 1st team all-state and finished second in the State championship. Our Girls’ Volleyball team was Sectional Champion and had one 2nd team all-conference. Boys Basketball had one 2nd team all-conference. Girls Basketball placed two on the 1st team all-conference team and had the LKC Scholar Athlete. Our Cheer team place fourth in the Regional Cheer Competition and fourth in the Conference Cheer Competition.
Last year we said goodbye to 77 seniors. 66% of those seniors are going on to receive more education and training. We have one that is going into the military and 19 are stepping directly into the workforce. Our seniors received $658,450.00 in scholarships to help them pay for their further education. 41 of our high school seniors completed a CTE Pathway while in High School – that is 53% of the graduating class. The High School had 96 students that held a grade between 3.5 and 3.99 and 51 students held an average above 4.0.
This last year saw some amazing achievements by our students. Unfortunately, the year was cut short by the pandemic. I feel worse for the seniors who lost out on their spring semester of their senior year. We are planning on having an in-person graduation ceremony on June 26th at 7:00 PM at the new Cline Stansberry Stadium.
I have often heard the word “unprecedented” used in regards to the events of the last few months. However, I believe that a better word would be “remarkable.” It was remarkable how our school system transitioned to remote learning. It was remarkable how parents, older siblings, uncles and cousins stepped in to help our students when they needed it most. It was remarkable how our child nutrition department and transportation department provided meals week after week. It was remarkable how we, as a community, stood together to make a difference in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
We are looking forward to a new school year and we appreciate your continued support.
Thank you and have a great evening