PCHS’ Future Looks Bright
Several years ago, with the Wetzel County Board of Education facing budget problems and enrollment at Paden City High school on the decline, the future of the community’s high school looked bleak. The board had to submit a 10 year plan to the state, and from all indications, it called for the closing of Paden City high school and moving those students to Magnolia.
Every effort was made by the residents, community leaders, concerned citizens, teachers, boosters organizations and alumni to turn, what seemed the impossible, around to change the Board’s outlook on the situation and reverse their decision to close what is the life blood of Paden City: “Itss High School.”
After several high intense meetings between the community and the Board of Education, and through some very persuasive speeches and promises from the opposition to the move, the Wetzel County Board of Education voted to change its plan to include Paden City high school as a 7-12 school.
Since that time, many changes have taken place at Paden City, and they are now a school on the rise with many new programs, increases in attendance, high test scores and 100 percent graduation rates.
What more could you ask for? Recently during discussions with Mr. Ed Toman, Board President Warren Grace and Paden City high school Principal Jay Salva, it was learned that even more positive changes are in the works.
Many of those changes have already occurred and many more our currently underway.
In 2015 major changes took place on the athletic football field, with new metal bleachers replacing the old wooden structures that had become safety concerns on both sides of the field. New lighting was also installed after the old lights were destroyed during a high wind storm. Much of the work was done at the expense of the Board of Education along with volunteer help from the people within the community.
To go along with the bleachers and lights, a new press box was also erected, mostly using board money and local labor.
In 2016, during the summer and prior to school resuming, all new security was added to the high school to bring better protection to the students, visitors and faculty. Part of those security measures included new doors throughout the high school, and the windows on the first floor were also replaced. The windows in the doors, and all the exterior windows, have a special 3M glass for high security measures. According to Principal Jay Salva, it would take a huge effort to get in the building if it were to go on lockdown.
Salva also said the doors in the building have special security features which make them extremely difficult to enter. Those two features were the major changes in 2016, in order to provide better security for the safety of the children. A special security pass is now required to enter the building.
Those changes came about because the board of education saw a need, recommended the upgrades, and provided all the funding for the changes.
Last year’s upgrades to the school also saw the gym floor painted, the gym painted and hallways and classrooms painted, new padding for the gym, a new digital clock and new doors to the entrance of the gym, from the commons, were also installed. New lighting in the gym was a major change and much needed for the athletes, as well as the spectators. Several classrooms also had new ceiling tiles installed, all in an effort to make the school more modern.
To enhance security, new cameras were installed, along with a new DVR system ,to record everything in or near the building. Salva said the system is very clear and they can zoom in and see everything up close; it is in color with high resolution. He said it is an HD system with a total of 32 cameras which cove’s the entire school interior and exterior.
Last year’s renovations included new carpeting in the downstairs classrooms and new tiling on the hallways downstairs from the front entrance to the rear of the building and upstairs in the commons. Last year’s security measures also included the new Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) Mary Bordenkircher, a sheriff’s deputy from the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office. She is not only there for preventive measures but teaches lessons to the kids about the dangers of drugs and instructs the kids in the ALICE training along with drills and measures to take if there was an active shooting or need for a lock down.
“The Board is putting a lot of money into this school. It is my belief that they are not only doing it for security, regular maintenance, needed repairs and upgrades but also because they want to make the school more attractive for families and kids to ensure the future of Paden City High School,” said Principal Salva. “We have had more work done than any of the schools over the past two years. Getting the classrooms done and redone and the new roof over the entire building makes me pretty sure there is a plan for the long-term for this school.”
The Principal said PCHS has great attendance and for the second year in a row, “we graduated 100 percent of our students.” Salva added that he and his staff, and the guidance counselor, work extremely hard to get the students to understand the importance of graduating versus dropping out. He mentioned the benefits of graduating, particularly the ability of going into the work force, getting into the Military, trade schools and especially the ability to enter into college. While not graduating closes a lot of those doors for the students, something he says he doesn’t want to see happen.
He said PCHS personnel spends extra time talking to kids who are failing. “We try to see what’s going on with them and then we offer extra help. Kids you have failed, go right in to recovery so we can get them back on track. We do this from their freshman year on to get them to graduate.”
Salva said sometimes it is a struggle, but “we just keep on trying, that’s what we do to make sure our kids get the skills and training they need to enter the world after high school.”
“We push them very hard, we are a small school and we know all of our kids, which allows us to develop that very good relationship with them. We want to keep them here. When we run into problems with truancy, we work hard with the parents to solve the problems before the law gets involved and they get fined or worse. We try to help,” he stated.
Salva said everything they are doing is to try an make the school more attractive to entice the children in the community to consider Paden City over other choices they have. He said they are adding new courses; they have an award winning Drama club with a very successful theatre club at the school. He said they participate at the state level, and for the past several years have always had state winners while competing against bigger schools including triple A.
“Our band is growing in size. we have computer science classes, page design, and we have a lot of classes in the food and health areas. We have one to one technology now; each student has a laptop and our staff is very well trained in technology.”
One thing, besides the renovations and repairs taking place at Paden City – that will help keep the school alive in the community – is the strong support from the Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Toman, and the Board of Education. The School Board is more self supportive now than in previous years and are able to put more back into the community schools through taxpayer money.
The excellence of Paden City high school, throughout its history, has been strong community support and great teachers, coaches and principals. Great sports teams, boosters support and excellence in the classroom, are the keys and the goals for the present administration.
Mr. Toman, who is in his second year as Superintendent, is a former Graduate of Paden City high school. He said that although he is from the Paden City, that does not make him prejudice against the other county schools. He wants to see all the schools in the county thrive, to be safe, have nice modern facilities, good athletic facilities, and rank with the best in the state academically, and he plans to see that happen. Toman said he supports the community schools throughout the county.
” As Superintendent I want the best for every child and every school in Wetzel County. Paden City had the need for some changes and improvements and it just happens the timing is right. We have many positive changes taking place in the county and when we’re finished we feel our facilities will be better updated to meet the needs for all of our students and staff ,”said Toman
As for Paden City, Principal Salva spoke about the close relationship the school and the boosters organization has had in the past and he feels the boosters are on their way back. He said they are doing some things to try and raise money and have even helped some of the little league and summer league teams this summer. He said he would like to see the Matthew Barker building used for what it was originally intended, noting it could be a great asset to the high school if they could ever get another gym floor.
Salva said he is excited, attendance at the school has increased, from 152 when he first took over, to 192 for this coming school year. He said his two big goals, when he first started here, were to have a graduation rate of 100 percent and 200 kids. He said every year the tests scores have gone up. He also noted some say the graduation rate of 100 percent is not as hard to achieve because of the small number of graduates, but on the flip side, if just one student drops out it knocks your percentage rate way down, for example two dropouts puts you at eighty percent. He said that’s why they put so much emphasis on graduating.
With the work being done at Paden City high school this year, they will have the same amount of classrooms but they will be much safer classrooms. The old rooms had something like sliding curtain-type doors, so to make it bette,r there will be three classrooms taken off the ramp and only one room that will be much enlarged and have the new security type doors.
The new rooms will have all new lighting, which will be high resolution for better viewing. New steel studding, new drywall, new carpeting – everything will be new. The upstairs will be completed by the start of the new school year but there will have to be some temporary arranging of classrooms in the Multi-purpose building until everything is completed.
The classrooms will all be more modern, more efficient and better for the teachers and students plus much safer. The classrooms will all have new lock systems where every teacher will have a key to lock the rooms in case something was happening in the school and there would need to be a lockdown , the doors can be locked by just shutting the doors from inside the room, thereby preventing someone from just entering in.
The amount of work being put into Paden City High School this year alone amounts to nearly $300,000 dollars all funded through the Wetzel County Board of Education with Wetzel County taxpayer monies.
Work is being done at nearly every school in Wetzel County but Paden City High School is receiving the bulk of the work this year and upon completion will be as close to a new school as possible with all security measures in place.
With a new roof over the entire school and the Multi Purpose building, upgrades to the athletic facilities, new security doors and windows, security pass entrance to the facility, better electrical and new wiring, fresh paint and new carpeting, enlarged classrooms that are more efficient, high state test scores, low student to teacher ratios, great attendance record, 100 percent graduation rates, new courses of study, competitiveness in athletics, PRO officer on the premises and a great administration it looks as though the future of Paden City High School is brighter than bright. Where can you find a better place for your children to get an education than right here at home.
Principal Salva welcomes and encourages all Paden City children to attend their home town school and make Paden City even better for the future.