Graves wants people who think poorly of his school to see it for themselves.
"I challenge anyone to come here any time unannounced and visit. They'll see caring teachers and engaged students, not a bunch of rowdy, disruptive students or an office full of kids in trouble," he said. "Yes, studies show that students in more privileged homes have a leg up on less advantaged students when it comes to test scores. But when you've got 700 students like John Adams, you're going to have more teachers and more variety of courses. If our enrollment increases, our offerings would increase, too."
George Washington High had the second-highest WESTEST scores in the state this year, while South Charleston High School ranked 36 out of 113 high schools.
South Charleston High School principal Mike Arbogast said the issues that have surfaced with redistricting talk has motivated him to better promote his school and has him valuing his staff and students more than ever.
"I don't know where those comments come from. We recognize positive character and good behavior, and we're constantly preaching about the importance of representing our school in a positive way," he said about last week's remarks. "My teachers here make me believe in the public education system every day."
South Charleston High has the state's only International Baccalaureate program and offers a variety of foreign language classes, in addition to creating "global classrooms" through online classes where students communicate with others from across the world, Arbogast said.
He said some of the same criticisms he's heard about his school is what he values most.
"We're a diverse school, but we embrace that. We learn from each other, and I love that about our school. We have different races, religions and ethnic backgrounds and come from all walks of life," he said. "That's what the real world is all about."
Superintendent Ron Duerring said children are in good hands in Kanawha County regardless of which school they attend.
"I think in all our schools we have a lot of good people -- a lot of wonderful families and parents, and it doesn't really matter to me what school you go to. I think our children are in good hands in good communities with parents who care about them," he said.
No plans have been finalized for redistricting at this time, according to board President Pete Thaw.
"We're going to proceed with this but we're not going to do it in the dark. You're going to see every move. It's going to be a long time, but these doors are always open," Thaw told parents at the board meeting last week. "You'll know when we get close to something, but we're not near anything. We hardly know where we are on this."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.