By Michelle James

Register-Herald Reporter

Jack Richmond, vocational director for Raleigh County Schools, updated board of education members Tuesday regarding the Academy of Careers and Technology.

Richmond told board members the ACT was the highest scoring vocational center in the state, meeting 93 percent of state proficiency standards. Also, the school, in the fall, received exemplary school status and recently applied to become a School of Excellence.

Lisa Spears, director of ACT’s Pro Start program, told members students and the program itself placed on both state and national levels during the 2006-07 school year.

“Every culinary school in West Virginia offered them (students) scholarships,” she said.

Kevin Bolen, who teaches industrial electricity at the school, told members of a robot students built which place on both a region and national level.

Principal Glen Smith said many students have and will represent the school at national competitions in Orlando, Fla.

“We have many great programs to be proud of,” Richmond said.

Also Tuesday, technology specialist Mary Ann Foster recognized and presented each of Raleigh County’s Math Field Day winners with trophies.

“It’s such an honor just to participate (in Math Field Day),” Foster said. “I’m so proud of everybody in here.”

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Alicia Peters, assistant coach for the Liberty High School tennis teach, asked the board to consider constructing two new tennis courts at the school.

Liberty’s team, Peters said, played its 2006-07 matches at New River Park.

Next year, however, Peters said the cost of using those facilities will go up.

Also, Peters told board members the environment at New River Park was not the best as students were exposed to drug use, profanity and sexual innuendoes from people hanging out around the courts.

Peters said the school would be willing to resurface two existing courts, and, if the county would be willing to construct two additional courts, the team would be able to play its home games at Liberty instead of 20 miles away.

Also Tuesday, the Rev. Ronald Martin, director and founder of Unity Hall, a nonprofit organization designed to offer Raleigh County residents services such as youth mentioning, crime prevention activities, job skill training, aid to needy families and a safe place for activities, asked that the community become involved with the center.

“It’s time to help these kids,” Martin said, adding a handful of people have signed up to receive training to work for the GEDs.

Martin invited board and community members to attend the grand opening of Unity Hall, which is located on Antonio Avenue, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 19.

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Vernon Haltom, co-director of the Coal River Mountain Watch, addressed board members regarding safety concerns at Marsh Fork Elementary School.

Haltom said members of the organization believe the staff at Marsh Fork is doing a good job, but says that job has nothing to do with the health threats posed by a Massey coal silo situated just behind the school.

At recent meetings, Marsh Fork residents have spoken out against Coal River Mountain Watch, saying they believe the school their children attend is safe.

Haltom, however, said good health of one student does not mean there is not a problem.

“Just because some kids are OK doesn’t mean other kids are OK,” he said.

Also, he said, though they have not spoken out, many parents do have concerns, but are afraid to say so.

“There are parents who would like to speak out,” he said, adding he believed those individuals might eventually come forward.

— E-mail: mjames@register-herald.com



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