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Governor pays a visit for school ceremonies

December 04, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS - Tenth-grader Nick Quarantillo stomped his foot on a piece of metal that divides Berkeley Springs High School.

"This is where the new part starts," he told members of a tour group, before moving forward. "If you guys could stay to the right," he said, barely turning his head.

Quarantillo and other students offered tours of the recently renovated high school Tuesday night after a dedication ceremony.

Berkeley Springs High School's auditorium - with nearly every seat filled - was officially named the Connie Perry Community Auditorium.

Earlier in the day, Orchard View Intermediate School, outside Martinsburg, W.Va., in Berkeley County, named its library after Perry.

Gov. Bob Wise attended both ceremonies.

Perry, a member of the volunteer School Building Authority, helped Morgan County obtain the $6.3 million used to renovate and add to Berkeley Springs High.

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New portions of the school include a media center and science laboratories. Because of the project, more science and arts-related courses are now offered, including courses in theater and music, Morgan County Schools Superintendent Steve Paine said.

To highlight the renovated auditorium in Berkeley Springs, school officials decided to show off the students who use it. High school students in the band played, student actors performed a scene from a melodrama, members of the choir sang and a student performed a piano solo.

After posing for photographs and shaking hands, Wise said he has never seen a school dedication in which the students played such a prominent role.

The addition and renovations to the 62-year-old school took about 18 months to finish, Paine said. Some delays were incurred because of asbestos found in an adjacent building that was torn down, he said.

Perry, who moved to Morgan County as a teenager in 1955, told the crowd she has fond memories of the auditorium, and even performed in shows, the last time playing a bag lady for a fund-raiser.

"My hope is that the auditorium is used again and again by the community and the schools" for fund-raising efforts, she said.

Initial plans submitted to the SBA did not include a renovated auditorium, Perry said, so she nagged Paine to request the additional $200,000 needed. He did and SBA members approved it.

Perry and her fellow SBA members have secured more than $14 million for Morgan County schools, along with more than $35 million for Berkeley County and a little more than $14 million for Jefferson County.

The SBA consists of seven board members from around the state, along with a president and vice president. Perry has served on the SBA for 10 years, and said she plans to continue serving for a few more.

Created by the state Legislature and former Gov. Gaston Caperton in 1998, the SBA's mission is to "facilitate and provide state funds for the construction and maintenance of school facilities that meet the educational needs of West Virginia students in a thorough, efficient, and economical manner," according to the SBA's Web site.

Wise said more than three-fourths of the state's students are in new or renovated facilities.

Back on the tour, meanwhile, Quarantillo answered questions asked by members of his tour group. Some classes had to be moved around while construction was under way, he said. The computers in the building all have Internet access. The chemistry lab is supposed to be impressive, but its doors were locked, so Quarantillo told members of the group to peer through windows on the room's door.

And crowding everybody in the group into the elevator, he said only students with injuries are supposed to use it, he replied to a query.

And about the addition and renovations as a whole?

"I'm very pleased with it," he said.

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