Brooke students, others gave Charleston a boost

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By Warren Scott - Staff writer 
Weirton Daily Times

WELLSBURG - Just a day after the chemical spill that left thousands of southern West Virginia residents without water, a group of Brooke High School students organized a collection of bottled water, food and other supplies.

Through the help of several adult volunteers and the generosity of many area businesses, the effort yielded two large truckloads of materials for victims of the spill, Toni Shute, the school's principal, told the Brooke County Board of Education last week.

Shute said student Chad Harper launched the drive, recruiting fellow students Scott and Alex Edgell, John Hall, Katie and Erin Conaway, Natalie Henwood, Maddie Marks, Dante Rosso, Carlie Diserio, Cody Younciak, Logan Green and Heath Hildreth.

Shute said phone calls and Facebook postings led to an outpouring of donations of money, water, food, baby supplies and paper products.

The food and materials were donated by many businesses, including Kroger, which supplied a skid filled with bottled water and other items; Barney's Weir Cove Bakery, which donated 350 pepperoni rolls; the Dollar General Market, Reisbeck's Food Stores, Hood's Pharmacy and Follansbee Pharmacy.

She added among the many who collected monetary donations, helped load the trucks and assisted in other ways were: teachers Misty Duvall, Jami Packer and Jim Butterworth; Athletic Director Jacki Robinson, Rob Robinson, the school district's facilities director; Board President Jim Piccirillo, custodian Jerome Anderson, state Sens. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg, and Robert "Rocky" Fitzsimmons, D-Wheeling; Greg and Tammy Harper, Harper's parents; Keith Robinson, Diane and Aleksey Rasz, Kathy Younciak and Robert Shute.

In addition to loading the trucks, bus drivers John Bullock and Ernie Fithyan, Del. Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, and resident John "Flash" Lahita volunteered to drive them to Charleston, Shute said.

"It was West Virginians helping West Virginians. It was a great feeling," she said of the effort.

Shute reported on the endeavor before introducing Assistant Principal Tim Pannett and Kylie Greathouse, secretary of the school's senior class; to present a report from the high school's school improvement council.

The following were noted during the report:

Teacher Mike Lanigan, the school's webmaster, regularly updates the school's website at, which includes announcements, sports schedules, lunch menus and other information and now can be accessed with mobile devices.

A significant drop in student discipline problems was reported. It was attributed to students being prohibited from using cell phones during the school day, which officials said had led to some harassment; a large number of teachers being on lunch and hall duty and a structured, team approach, led by coach and instructor Sean Blumette, for the in-school suspension program.

A $2,500 grant was secured to encourage parent involvement, and there are plans to establish a parent resource center at the school where parents can learn about upcoming events and activities and to involve them in tutoring students after school.

In other business:

Valerie Smith, director of student services, said report cards have been delayed by the inclement weather but will go out on Jan. 27.

Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson said Michalene Mills has taken on the role of principal of Follansbee Middle School following a transition period in which she worked with former principal Kim Johnson.

Johnson has retired after serving serving Brooke County Schools 30 years to pursue a career in law, in which she has a degree.

A graduate of Salem International University and Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Mills was employed for 13 years by Hancock County Schools, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2011 and 2012.

She also has been coordinator of school improvement technical assistance for Regional Education Service Agency 6 and has been certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The board approved the hiring of Christen Walden as a careers in education instructor at the high school; Thomas Faessel as a social studies teacher at Follansbee Middle School; Kelly Lumbatis as art teacher for elementary schools in the county's southern half; Rachel Reardon as a second grade teacher at Hooverson Heights Primary School; Ron Ujcich Jr. as game day manager for winter sports at the high school; Gina Graham as a substitute guidance counselor; Julie Miller as a cheering coach at Wellsburg Middle School, C.J. Besece as Adult Basic Education/Jobs program teacher; Connie Bryner as a substitute aide; and Margaret Provenzano as a cook at Wellsburg Primary School.

The board also accepted the resignations of Ellen Larter as girls tennis coach at the high school, Angela Mayhew as ABE/Jobs program teacher and three teachers who are retiring: Becky Hagwood of Colliers Primary School, Erin Ankrum of Franklin Primary School and Peggy Erlewine of Wellsburg Middle School.