The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 8, 2013

Cutting edge


The Register-Herald

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Some 250 students were welcomed into a new Marsh Fork Elementary School Monday for the first day of classes at the Rock Creek facility. A long time in coming, the school will provide students with the latest in learning technology.

A couple of tours were conducted at the school during the past month and the community had its chance to get a glimpse last week. Many were reportedly overwhelmed and moved to tears when they got the chance to see the new school.

That’s the kind of passion every community should have for its schools. As West Virginia prepares to undertake the difficult task of education reforms, getting the parents to buy in and become more involved will make or break the future for every school.

At Marsh Fork, they have waited a long time. For several years elementary school students went to class in a building literally overshadowed by a large coal slurry pond.

Many clamored for a new facility and finally, unfortunately, it seemed like a nearby coal mining disaster at Upper Big Branch in April 2010 provided the final impetus to get a new school built.

Contributions from the Charles Annenburg Foundation, the former Massey Energy company and members of the community itself were packaged with local and state funds to complete a financing package.

The atmosphere at the new Marsh Fork was described as electric. Many pointed to state-of-the-art features in the classrooms, gymnasium and cafeteria. Others pointed to security upgrades and individual classroom access.

Principal Tracie Wood said the facility itself is a game-changer for student achievement and predicted that Marsh Fork would be looked at by other counties throughout West Virginia for ideas when it comes to future school construction.

It’s a huge step forward for educating our children. We’re thrilled for all the people living in Raleigh County’s Coal River Valley and their new, shining community star that will serve generations to come.