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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wise County School Woes

Supporting six high schools has become a major task for Wise County. All six schools are in need of repairs, upgrades, and expansions. There is also talk of consolidation. Some Powell Valley High School students favor consolidation.

BIG STONE GAP — Scores of students have provided often eloquent, sometimes emotional, testimony to the Wise County School Board in recent weeks of their love for their high schools and despair at the implication they might one day be closed.

During the most recent board meeting, however, two students stepped forward amid the throng of students defending the continued existence of Pound, Appalachia and St. Paul high schools and voiced a different opinion. Powell Valley High School’s Perry Ashley and Von Jessee endorsed consolidation.

Ashley, a senior, and Jessee, a junior, said they realize their stand won’t make them the most popular teens in the county — particularly in the three aforementioned communities — but figure if such matters depended on popularity contests, kids would still attend quaint one-room schoolhouses while taking turns to feed lumps of coal into potbellied stoves for heat.

“All of these 1950s schools are consolidated schools,” said Ashley.

Opened in the mid-1950s, Powell Valley brought together the student bodies of East Stone Gap and Big Stone Gap high schools. Elders of the era have informed the pair that wasn’t terribly popular either at the time, but things worked out fine.

“Change is always tough,” he said. “But the sooner you face it the better it is. If you face it with open arms, it’s better than turning your back on it.”(READ it ALL)

I agree. Action on this is 30 years overdue.

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