WELLSBURG - At its April 27 meeting, the Brooke County Board of Education recognized local winners of the West Virginia Young Writers Contest and MathCounts competition and heard concerns about the use of cellular phones and instructional time in schools.
The West Virginia Young Writers Contest is held annually by the West Virginia Writing Project and funded by the West Virginia Department of Education, with support from Marshall University, the University of Charleston and the Charleston Daily Mail.
No Brooke County students were state winners this year, but it's been customary for a panel of Brooke County judges to name local winners.
The local winners and their respective grade levels are: Ethan Robey of Colliers Primary School, grades 1-2; Darby Criss of Colliers Primary, grades 3-4; Abby Ciccolella of Follansbee Middle School, grades 5-6; Jakob Heilman of Follansbee Middle, grades 7-8; Elizabeth Chuma of Brooke High School, grades 9-10; and Karson Boyce of Brooke High, grades 11-12.
Diane Rasz, an English teacher at Wellsburg Middle School and local coordinator of the contest, said the students could write about anything they wanted, provided their entries were prose and met word counts required for their respective grade levels.
During the meeting Robey read his essay, in which he suggested establishing a park within tropical rainforests and charging admission to generate funds to protect the thousands of animals inside.
The school board also took time to recognize the Wellsburg Middle School MathCounts team for placing fifth among teams competing at the state level of the MathCounts competition and second at the regional level.
Led by math instructor Toni Taylor, the school was represented by Justin Elliott, Reagan McClain, Zachariah Spurrier, Hayleigh Sutak, Katelyn James, Rhiannon Macom, Kayla Persad, Katelynne Spurrier and Gavin Shaffer.
At an earlier meeting, the board had recognized the Follansbee Middle School MathCounts team for placing first at the state and regional levels.
Both schools also had non-registered teams that placed in the top three at the regional level.
Wellsburg pupil McClain placed second as an individual competitor at the regional level, while James and Shaffer placed second and fourth as non-registered individual competitors.
The board also heard from Jeff Knox, a parent of children at Brooke High School and Hooverson Heights Primary School, who said one of his children has told him he and classmates frequently text each other and watch movies while at school.
Knox spoke on behalf of a handful of parents attending the meeting.
He said children should have access to cellular phones for emergencies but shouldn't use them while in class.
He said he doesn't support his children doing that and checks phone bills to determine whether they have used their phones during school hours.
Following the meeting, Kathy Kidder, superintendent, said the school district doesn't have a countywide policy for cellular phones, but students at the high school may use them only outside class.
Board President Jim Piccirillo said he supports teachers showing films as a supplement to their instruction but doesn't believe there's a need during school hours for movies viewed strictly for entertainment.
Kidder said school officials will investigate the parents' complaints.