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Mild winter speeds end of school, start of pools in Berkeley Co.

March 20, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The unusually mild winter has scrambled the traditional end of the Berkeley County school year for students who will finish classes on May 22 before the seniors graduate, according to Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon.

“This is the first time in Berkeley County (that I can recall) that we’ve haven’t had at least one snow day,” Arvon said Tuesday, the official beginning of spring.

In fact, the last day for teachers — May 25 — will come before Martinsburg and Hedgesville High schools’ evening graduation ceremonies, Arvon said.

Musselman High’s graduation is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. on May 24. Martinsburg High’s will be at 7 p.m. May 25, and Hedgesville High’s ceremony will be at 10 a.m. May 26.

The unusual pre-Memorial Day weekend finish to the school year has prompted the Martinsburg-Berkeley County parks & recreation board to try to open the public swimming pools on May 23, board Executive Director R. Stephen “Steve” Catlett told board members who met Tuesday for their regular March meeting.

The recreation board also plans to begin the agency’s annual summer day camp for those ages 6 to 13 a week earlier, on June 4, Catlett said in an interview after the meeting.

Last year, the camp proved to be a revenue generator, drawing an average of more than 50 children each of the program’s nine-week schedule. This year, the camp will last 10 weeks, Catlett said.

Catlett said the park system usually opens the public pools at Lambert and War Memorial parks for the Memorial Day weekend, but doesn’t open them on a daily basis until after the last day of classes.

Given the early finish to the school year, that won’t be necessary this year. Catlett is hoping the earlier start will provide more revenue for the park system, which has been squeezed by the economy and funding cuts.

While pleased by the lack of disruption to instruction due to the lack of inclement weather, Arvon said the unusually early end to the school year has caused concern about the amount of time students have to prepare between semester exams and state educational standards testing.

Students normally have some “down time” between the tests, but this year they only have a couple of days, Arvon said.

Based on past years, Arvon said the last day of classes this year was expected to be about June 4. While welcoming potential savings in utility costs due to the mild weather, Arvon said he expects the early finish also could impact families who need to find day-care services earlier than usual.

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