The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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January 18, 2013

Marsh Fork Elementary dedication ceremony held

— “Success is not a path you follow, but a trail you blaze,” said Raleigh County Schools Superintendent Jim Brown Friday during the dedication ceremony of Marsh Fork Elementary School, the brand new home of the Bulldogs.

Before the ceremony started, several students offered tours to visitors, showcasing not only the state of the art building, but the leadership skills already being crafted there.

“The opening of the new Marsh Fork Elementary School is not only a milestone, but is also a journey that has taken many decades,” Brown said.

“On many levels this new school will set the standard for education in Raleigh County and throughout the entire state of West Virginia.”

The school features a smart board in every classroom, a recessed floor in the cafeteria, a beautiful gymnasium and security code locks on every classroom door.

Rick Snuffer, president of the Raleigh County Board of Education, said this is the completion of a five-year journey.

“When political differences are put aside, and students are put in mind, great things can be accomplished.”

Dave Cantley shared the history of the land with the officials, state leaders, teachers, parents and students who gathered at the dedication ceremony.

Kimberly Gross spoke on behalf of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who said the school has his complete support.

“Congratulations for a job well done.”

Phil Lewis spoke on behalf of Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

“This day has been a long time coming and I congratulate the entire community for making it a reality.”

Lewis also pulled his 4th grade tour guide, Emma, from the bleachers and asked her to lead everyone in a loud, “Let’s Go, Bulldogs” chant.

Sen. Joe Manchin said he felt a wave of emotions and memories from being at the previous school while everyone was hoping the Upper Big Branch miners would return safely.

“Our lives and communities are changed forever, but it reinforced my belief in the strength of human beings, especially West Virginians.”

He quoted Benjamin Franklin, “Investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

He asked that all the students realize how lucky they are to be able to attend a state-of-the-art school.

“This school has one of the best designs in the country today.”

Manchin said the school does provide excellent safety features, starting from the front doors, but he promised he will do everything he can to prevent future violence.

“We have a responsibility to change that culture. It’s been glorified.”

He said he believes “preventative resource officers” will be placed at every school in the future.

“It just seems to be the most logical thing to do.”

Former superintendent of Raleigh County Schools Charlotte Hutchens said the leaders of the project laughed together, cried together and didn’t always see eye to eye, but the dedication ceremony was a bittersweet moment for her.

“Everyone always had the students’ best interests at heart.”

She said she loves the entrance and the security features at the school, but her favorite part is the gym, which shows great Bulldog pride.

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