Panhandle schools start new year

August 27, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - It was time to hit the books instead of the beaches Tuesday as thousands of Eastern Panhandle students headed back to classes in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.

At Martinsburg High School the staff and upperclassmen were trying to ease a difficult adolescent rite of passage - the first day of high school. Principal Richard Deuell said there are 360 students in the class of 2001.

Total enrollment in the high school, according to Deuell, was about 1,290 on the first day. "We're growing by 40 to 50 kids every year. We'll peak out at about 1,300 by the end of the week. That's the most we've ever had here," he said.


Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon said total enrollment is up about 300 students this year over last and growth will be a factor for several years to come.

"The last four years we've gained approximately 1,000 students," according to Arvon, who moved up from assistant superintendent in charge of instruction this year. At the current rate, the system will add another 1,000 students over the next three years, he said.

Arvon said the projected enrollment for the beginning of this year is 12,265.

The system added 30 new teaching positions, along with 30 more teachers to replace those who retired or transferred, he said. The system has 800 teachers and is the county's largest employer with about 1,400 employees.

To accommodate growth, the system is in the midst of a $15.9 million building program that includes a new Musselman High School in the south end of the county and construction of Potomac Intermediate School in the northern part of the county. The old Musselman High will become a middle school and the existing Musselman Middle School will become an intermediate school.

"The current building program will give us relief in the northern and southern parts of the county. The city of Martinsburg still needs to be addressed," Arvon explained.

"Excellent opening. Things were just running like clockwork," said Jefferson County Schools Superintendent David W. Markoe, who visited four of the system's 13 schools Tuesday. He said a good opening sets the tone for the rest of the year.

Enrollment was 6,109 the first day, up 39 from last year, but Markoe said the number of students at Jefferson High School was up 94 to 1,357. "We did add five teachers there in anticipation of that," he added.

"I think Jefferson is just on the verge of a big growth spurt," according to Markoe, who said an expansion of the high school is planned. Design development drawings are being done now and bids could go out this spring. Markoe hopes the addition will be ready by 1999 or 2000.

The addition would increase the high school's capacity to about 2,100 but, he added, "I think we'll open at near capacity." Part of the increase in students is spillover growth from Frederick County, Md., where he was associate superintendent of schools before coming to Jefferson County this year.

Enrollment for the first day of school in Morgan County was 2,238, up just a few from last year, although it usually increases during the first week as some students return from late vacations, according to Janet Goodhand, director of elementary education.

Some of those students will see a change of scenery early next year when Morgan Middle School is completed. Goodhand said the school will open between Jan. 1 and March 1 and seventh- and eighth-grade students at the old middle school on the Berkeley Springs High School campus will be transferred.

Sixth-grade students will move to the new building in the 1998-99 school year.

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