New school built to fit growing Berkeley Co.

November 16, 1998

Potomack Intermediate SchoolBy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

SPRING MILLS, W.Va. - The new Potomack Intermediate School in Spring Mills already has a leg up on Berkeley County's growth.

There are three wings in the building, housing students in third, fourth and fifth grades.

If growth in the area outpaces the size of the school, additions can easily be made to any of the wings, explained Principal Rodney Woods.

Berkeley County school officials know the importance of having such a school.

While the county's student population increased by 2,600 over the last 10 years, it is expected to increase by 3,600 over the next 10 years, Woods said.


Put another way, the district sees about 300 new students a year, enough to fill a small elementary school, said Martha "Marty" Grove, who was just named principal of an intermediate school to be built in southern Berkeley County.

"The growth in West Virginia, whether we like it or not, is centered in Berkeley County," Del. John Overington, R-Berkeley, told a large crowd Sunday afternoon during a dedication ceremony at Potomack Intermediate.

The school, described as an impressive facility with good design, opened its doors to 670 students on Aug. 26. Its capacity is 750 students.

When asked how long the school would be able to hold the intermediate student population in northern Berkeley County, Woods joked "this year, next year."

Seriously, Wood said he hopes the school can go at lesat five years without expansion.

"The demographic information is staggering," said Superintendent of Schools Manny Arvon, who said he was heading to Charleston, W.Va., after the dedication to request money for more schools.

Potomack and the new intermediate school in Inwood, W.Va., are designed to free up space in elementary schools for all-day kindergarten. The elementary schools in the northern part of the county - Bedington, Marlowe and Hedgesville - used to handle students up to fifth grade. Now the schools will teach kindergarten through second grade.

Potomack Intermediate, along U.S. 11 just off Interstate 81's Spring Mills exit, has several unique features in addition to its expandable design.

The walls in the music room are filled with sand to stop sound from traveling to other parts of the building, Woods said.

In the art room, there are large wooden tables to give students plenty of room to work, and there are two large sinks at the back of the room to wash paintbrushes and other equipment.

Lunch tables in the cafeteria can quickly be folded into long bench seats for public meetings, and the school is wired to handle up to 500 computers.

Woods said in the past, public schools were often built with a generic design, then it was up to the school's staff to make it fit with their programs.

Potomack received a lot of help from the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., which runs a plant in Spring Mills.

DuPont provided the 11 acres for the school and gave it a $2,000 grant for a weather observation system. Students will regularly collect data from the system and submit it to a Washington, D.C., television news station.

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