Education, Latest News, Preston County

Preston High graduation moved to Thursday, May 21, to accommodate state track meet

KINGWOOD — Preston High School graduation is being moved to accommodate graduating seniors who qualify for the state track and field meet.

The Class of 2020 will turn its tassels on Thursday, May 21. Traditionally, PHS holds graduation ceremonies on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Because Memorial Day is not the final weekend of May in 2020, a conflict arose with the meet.

Preston Schools Superintendent Steve Wotring sought the counsel of the Preston County Board of Education Monday.

“We have a problem at graduation, and there’s no right answer for me to make here,” Wotring said.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, several Preston students will qualify for the meet, Wotring said. The number seems small — about 10, he estimated — who will be in Charleston, compared to the roughly 300 total in the class.

He received requests to move graduation to Thursday or Saturday of Memorial Day weekend so students could do both the meet and graduation. He prefers Thursday because school personnel don’t work on Saturday.

Memorial Day weekend has been used because families can travel in for graduation.

“Do I disrupt the masses or the 10?” he said. “Those 10 deserve to walk across that stage and get their diploma. But they also deserve to see the fulfillment of their state track dreams at the same time.

“No matter what decision I make, I am going to tick off a part of our population. I want to do what’s best for kids, and my gut tells me that every kid deserves a chance to walk across our stage,” Wotring said.

Board President Jack Keim said if the change is made, it should be announced soon so families can plan.

“Every kid, there’s a couple things in their life they want to achieve. One of them is to have somebody hand them that high school diploma,” Keim said.

And, he said, it’s not often Preston High is best in the state at anything, and he believes some of this year’s athletes may do well at the state level.

Board members Pam Feathers and Jeff Zigray agreed with the change. Bob Ridenour was not at the meeting.

Wotring must submit the proposed calendar change to the state for approval.

Fewer students

During his report to the board, Wotring also said the latest enrollment report shows Preston’s enrollment is down 36 students from last year. Although he cautioned nothing is final yet, that probably will mean loss of state funding for two teachers and two service personnel positions.

Head lice policy

Also at the meeting, parent Megan Goodrich told the board about her experience with head lice in the classroom, her concerns about the long-term effects of drugs used to treat for lice may have on children and the county policy on head lice.

Wotring said about four years ago, the state forced policy changes on counties. Preston didn’t favor eliminating the “no nit” policy but had no choice. One concern at the state level was that some people can’t afford treatments for head lice, he said.

The current county head lice policy says:

“ ‘No nit’ policies are ineffective in controlling outbreaks of head lice. Children who are found to have more than five nits within 1 cm or 1/4 inch from the scalp and/or live lice, the parent or guardian shall be called and made aware of the situation. … The student may return to school the day following treatment, as long as no live lice are seen.”

Wotring said the state, “is adamant they do not want children at home with lice.” He said he will remind school nurses the policy requires them to counsel parents when their children have lice and how to check for infestations.

TWEET @DominionPostWV