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Brooke County Back to School event offered much to see, do

MUCH TO SEE AND DO — Hayli Yost, a Brooke High School junior from Follansbee, ascended a rock climbing wall brought to the Brooke County Schools’ Back to School Bash by the West Virginia Army National Guard. Area emergency departments also parked vehicles outside the high school to allow attendees a closer look. -- Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — For the many Brooke County students of all ages attending the school district’s Back to School Bash Tuesday, there was much to see and do and many supplies to prepare them for the new school year.

As they entered the main corridor of Brooke High School, local families were offered an assortment of backpacks, notebooks and other materials. Many of the items were brought by local residents, groups and businesses to a school bus parked outside the school board’s office last month.

But the event also provided school officials and staff an opportunity to share details about their courses and extracurricular activities.

Among the many faculty members manning tables in the school’s cafeteria was Amy Ludewig, a Brooke Middle School teacher who is among coordinators of its Project Lead the Way program.

Ludewig explained the program’s aim is to introduce pupils to various career choices through elective courses that involve hands-on activities.

For example, students have played “medical detectives,” observing commons symptoms of an illness feigned by their teacher, or dissected a sheep’s brain to learn more about biology, she noted.

“There are all kinds of things. The kids just love it,” said Ludewig.

At a table nearby were Melissa Garrett and Autumn Beatty, co-advisors of the high school’s chapter of Health Occupation Students of America.

The two educators said the club has about 60 members, many of them enrolled in the school’s biomedical science or certified medical assistant programs. They are among several career-oriented course tracks available there.

Garrett said students in the biomedical science program learn about a variety of careers they may pursue in the fields of medicine or health care.

“It’s not just doctors and nurses. It can be physical or occupational therapists, medical research, any field,” she said.

Garrett said the courses have sparked the interest of students who hadn’t considered such careers while others find it’s not for them.

“It gives them an idea before they invest money in college,” she said.

Beatty said students in the CNA program have gained firsthand experience at local assisted care and rehabilitation facilities and upon completion, may take the exam required for licensing as a nursing assistant.

But she also encourages them to further their education beyond high school.

Various groups offering services to local families also took part.

April Eltringham, community wellness representative for the Brooke County Health Department, said she and other staff members were spreading word the department offers school required immunizations at little or no cost to uninsured or under-insured families.

She noted that includes two more recent additions to the immunization regiment: one that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) and another for meningitis, both required for youth entering seventh grade; and the second meningitis required of incoming high school seniors.

For information or to schedule an appointment for a vaccination, families may call (304) 737-3665.

Coaches and members of many of the school district’s fall sports also were on hand, in their respective uniforms, to share information to potential future recruits.

The athletes also were recognized at the Meet the Teams event that followed the Back to School Bash.

Many groups provided activities for the youth within and outside the school.

Youth could take a closer look at fire or other emergency vehicles parked outside the school or try ascending a rock climbing wall brought by the West Virginia Army National Guard.

There also were balloon artists, inflatable attractions, a petting zoo and an opportunity to take home a bag of fresh produce brought from the Brooke County Farmers Market by representatives of the West Virginia University Extension Service.

The Wellsburg Lions Club served up free snow cones, while boxes of pizza also were provided to attendees at no cost.

Violet Baldauf of Wellsburg and her son, Riley Mikels — a sixth grader at Brooke Middle School — were among many who appreciated the event.

“People who don’t have a big budget can go here and get things for school,” observed Mikels.

Jamie Reed of Weirton, said she came to see her son, Markus, a member of the freshman football team and so her other son, Noah, could enjoy the various activities.

Reed said there are not as many events suited for children sensitive to loud sounds and bustling action, as Noah is, and she appreciated that school officials offered an hour geared for such youth before opening its doors to the general public.

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