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Students, Teachers Honored by BOE

November 15, 2017
Wetzel Chronicle

Several local youth were honored Nov. 6 at a regular meeting of the Wetzel County Board of Education.

The meeting began with local Eagle Scouts - Zack Slie, Alex Norton, and Clayton Myers - leading the Pledge of Allegiance. The trio then spoke briefly to board members, with Board President Warren Grace remarking he was "so impressed" with what the three had accomplished to earn the position of Eagle Scout.

"I'm sure that will serve you very well in the rest of your life," he said.

Article Photos

Photo Provided
Pictured are Travis McCoy, Hundred High School student; Brittany Mason, fifth grade teacher at New Martinsville School; and Sharon Snider, fourth grade teacher at Long Drain School. The trio recently returned from Malaysia, as part of a JASON Learning Argonaut trip.

Abbe Stackpole, a Paden City High School sophomore, was then recognized by the board for her selection to serve on a national panel in Washington, D.C. Stackpole, along with Carolyn Hizer, a Science/Chemistry teacher at Paden City High School, had each participated in "Day of Design." Day of Design, according to its website at, allows the chance for its participants to join the "community of Innovators as they use simple ideation steps to create change and learn as they do." The site says that as students create their ideation maps, they will use the principles of innovation "that guide many of the world's change leaders."

Stackpole herself said she learned that a lot of people do different things and that "everybody does something different." She said anyone can change the world, if they just try.

The board of education also recognized Travis McCoy, a Hundred High School student, along with Brittany Mason (fifth grade teacher at New Martinsville School), and Sharon Snider (fourth grade teacher at Long Drain School). The trio recently returned from the "Penang BioBlitz," as they were selected as JASON Argoanuts for a trip to Malaysia.

Snider said she - along with McCoy and Mason - had the opportunity to represent Wetzel County Schools and were part of a bioblitz.

"This was the first time Penang Hill has been studied as a rainforest scientifically," she said, noting that the three got to work with different scientists.

"Each scientist had his/her own experiments, so we got to do different interactions. We also worked with a teacher from Penang and some of the students." Snider said the purpose of the bioblitz is for the scientists to study the rainforest, and see first-hand, what was there. This information is then taken to the government and rest of the world to show the importance of "why it needs to be studied and preserved."

Snider said during the Penang BioBlitz, a new species of scorpion was discovered, as well as an ancient line of ants that hasn't been seen for decades.

Snider said since the argonauts' return, the Penang area has been hit with flooding and landslides; thus, it is closed off for the moment. "We do know that our friends are safe, but our thoughts are with them."

Snider said the argonauts' purpose is to gather information and share it with the community, teachers and students, and to share the importance of preserving the rainforest.

Mason said she learned "everything" on her trip. "One day we were hunting for spiders, and the next day we were bird watching, which is really relaxing." Mason said she had a new appreciation for the task.

"We got to record bird songs and calls, and we identified them." Mason explained how the group was active every day and might even be pulled from one activity to another, if something unique was discovered.

She said the group took a night hike and looked for mammals.

Snider added that the rainforest at night "is totally different when someone has (only) one light."

McCoy's flight for his argonaut trip was his first time on a plane. McCoy said he didn't really care for flying, especially considering the group left for their trip on Friday the 13th.

McCoy also spoke of some of his personal highlights during the trip, such as eating what he thought was chicken on a stick. However, the food turned out to be squid.

McCoy's mother said she had kept in touch with Superintendent Ed Toman during her son's trip, and she said she also ended up receiving plenty of photos from Travis as well.

Board Vice President Bill Jones remarked that he wanted to tell "what kind of a young man we have in Travis McCoy."

Jones explained that, in July and August, McCoy and his father had spent countless hours helping the people in the Hundred and Littleton communities, who had been affected by flooding.

"The folks really appreciate that. Travis is the kind of young man we need in Hundred."

Superintendent Toman also noted that McCoy is on Toman's Hundred Student Advisory Committee.

JASON Learning is a nonprofit founded in 1989 by Dr. Robert D. Ballard. Notably, Ballard is best-known for his discovery of the Titanic.

JASON Learning provides curriculum in science, engineering, technology, and math; Wetzel County Board of Education is implementing the curriculum.

Argonauts are student and teacher pairs who go on adventures. Argonauts travel to national parks, as well as islands around the world. On these travels, Argonauts meet and study with scientists.

Superintendent Toman has previously described the Argonaut program as "top-notch" and "excellent."

"It's a great way to motivate kids for science," he has said. "It's a pretty neat and awesome experience."

According to JASON Learning, each Argonaut applicant applies for an Argonaut position through a highly competitive and rigorous selection process, including personal essays, video statements, reference letters, and academic records. Each individual is competing against their peers from around the world for a highly coveted spot on the team. These materials are reviewed by a national team of JASON staff, educators and administrators familiar with the program.



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