FEA students hope to compete nationally

WELLSBURG – Shortly after the Brooke County school board recognized three Brooke High School students for their outstanding performance at a state competition, the board on Monday was asked to help them go on to an international event.

Brianna Kowalsky and Angeline Smith, seniors in the school’s careers in education program, finished first in competitions testing their readiness for the field during the West Virginia Future Educators of America Conference in December.

Kowalsky, who also is vice president of the state organization, placed first in the job application division, for which participants were judged for resumes and cover letters submitted for a fictional job opening and their poise and effectiveness while participating in a mock job interview.

Smith was presented the WVFEA’s Leadership Award for a project in which she taught cooking and other life skills to special education students at her school with the help of members of Friends Helping Friends, a club she formed.

Diane Lucero, instructor, said Smith still works with them once or twice a week.

Kowalsky and Smith are eligible to compete at the International FEA Conference in Orlando, Fla., in April.

Lucero said a third Brooke student, Kirsten Minger, isn’t eligible for that competition but earned 93 points out of 100 for the lesson plan she created and presented to children at Jefferson Primary School.

Lucero told the board each girl raised $150 to compete in the state event and will need $850 each to participate in the international event.

She noted Brooke coaches who lead their athletes to state competitions receive a bonus for their efforts, though it’s not their real incentive for such success. Lucero said instead of a bonus, she asks the board to contribute to the students’ costs and possibly establish a budget for the local FEA chapter, which receives no funds from the state. She noted since 2009, several of her students have advanced to the international competition, and a few have won.

Board President Jim Piccirillo said he will ask Superintendent Kathy Kidder and Joe Starcher, career technical education director, to explore avenues through which the school district may assist the students.

The board also recognized the Brooke High School Cheerleaders for earning the school’s 13th state championship title, setting a state record for the number of wins by one school.

Certificates were presented to coaches Melissa Michaux, Michelle Scherich and Chris Stucin and squad members Teirria Duffy, Alexandria Sperlazza, Emily Hosler, Katie Nunley, Haley Bowman, Elizabeth Fernandez, Holly Davis, Aubrey Reynolds, Alexandra Velegol, Cassi Camilletti, Abbi Yachini, Brooke Clark, Danielle Johnson, Nicole Himmelrick, Caitlin Cuomo, Makayla Moore, Kelly Schambach, Lauren Fritz, Marin Rogers and Sydney Gambellin.

The squad is preparing for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championship set Feb. 2 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.

In other business, the board:

Approved a settlement agreement with Scott Donohew following a grievance filed by him against the board. Piccirillo said he’s prohibited by state policy from discussing the agreement.

Kidder said she also couldn’t comment other than to say it was reached through mediation between an administrative law judge and attorneys representing both parties.

Donohew, Franklin Primary School principal, had been recommended by Kidder for the facilities supervisor position last year. A majority of the board didn’t accept the recommendation, and Kidder submitted Rob Robinson, who was approved.

Donohew, who was called for comment, said he also couldn’t discuss it.

Authorized Robinson to close athletic tracks and playgrounds at local schools during the day in an effort to address security concerns, but they will be available after school.

Kidder said the move is one that was recommended by Patriot Services, a consultant hired last year to assess security at the schools. She said while some of the facilities need only to be locked, others will require additional fencing, to limit access.

Piccirillo said while the move may be an inconvenience for some, “I hope the public will understand the students’ safety is our main concern.”

Heard from Denise Spensky, Brooke County Council PTA president, who reported on efforts to provide coats, shoes and clothing to local children in need through the Brooke County Clothes Closet and a dropoff box built by high school vocational students for the clothes closet at 26th Street and Pleasant Avenue.

Spensky said the group has activities planned and will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Lauretta B. Millsop Primary School.

Approved the transfer of Shanah Perrone from special education position at Follansbee Middle School to fifth-grade teacher there; hiring Nancy Deemer and Kim Anderson as secretaries at Follansbee Middle and Beech Bottom Primary School, respectively, and several substitute service personnel; and the retirements of Frances Bonnaure, kindergarten teacher at L.B. Millsop Primary School; Russell Shaffer, art teacher at Beech Bottom, Franklin and Wellsburg primary schools; Deborah Ulrich, second-grade teacher at Wellsburg Primary School; Randall Weppler, physical education teacher at Follansbee Middle and wrestling coach; Cynthia Weppler, speech therapist at Wellsburg Primary; Michael Santora, a custodian at L.B. Millsop Primary School; Karen VanDyke, a secretary at Beech Bottom; Virginia Foresha and Jan Baker, vocational instructors at the high school; and Margaret Jeane Sheperd, French teacher at Wellsburg Middle.