I commend the principal and all the teachers at this school. They mask the hardships without effort. All are extremely warm, affectionate, caring, understanding professionals. The students, in return, are so receptive, eager to learn, willing to work as partners, and proud of their school. Friday was "Red Heart Day," a wellness campaign. Most everyone wore red to honor their commitment to work for a healthy heart.
As a Preston County resident I applaud all they do in spite of the socio-economic conditions and their efforts to cope with the water dilemma. There is a city outlet where citizens can pick up water for home use. No one, no one I talked to in the school, hotel, or out and about is drinking the water or using it for meals. Many wonder about the long-term effects of the spill. Did the parents hear about the warning in a timely manner? Did they adhere to the warning? During the immediate four-day crisis, the school delivered food and water to the families they knew would need help.
I learned the schedule of a "year-round" school. I always had negative thoughts about this concept; however, this school chose to be year-round for the children. This way students do not go long periods without hot lunches and social and academic intervention. They have a five-week break at the end of the school year; three weeks in September, December and March; plus the normal holidays.
I am honored to have been given the opportunity to teach these kids agriculture experiments for one week. When I gave them information, they would say "Wait a minute, do you mean...?" or "Would you say that again?"
We did an experiment where we had three milk products: skim milk, cream and buttermilk. They had to hypothesize as partners which product would make butter. Most guessed buttermilk. When asked where milk came from, some would say "a pig, a goat, a lamb, Wal-Mart."
They learned the dairy commodity properties and byproducts and made a small tub of butter from cream. We made crayons from soybean flakes. They learned Crayolas are made from non-renewable petroleum, and Prang crayons are made from a renewable soybean that is grown in West Virginia.
They were ecstatic to learn chickens can lay colored eggs, insulin comes from a cow and a pig (Many know diabetics.), toothbrush bristles are pig's hair, paint brush bristles are horse hair, diapers contain a corn product which absorbs liquid, tires contain stearic acid from a beef cow and aspirin contains a forestry product, all commodities grown in West Virginia.
Everyone, including the staff at the Charleston Capitol Hotel, treated me, an outsider, with the utmost dignity and respect. They talked to me, asked me questions, guided me to points of interest and dining. In other words, they treated me like a family member.
Hang in there fellow West Virginians. The entire state is behind you in your concerns and well being.
Donetta Sisler lives in Aurora.