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There’s A Rumor Goin’ Round

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This just in…West Geauga doesn’t get much big news. As a result of this, anything remotely interesting or impactful gets passed around the school like wildfire — as is the case with the Newbury merge.

When the Newbury merge was just a “Well I  heard…” being passed around the hallways, there must’ve been about 12 different versions to how that sentence ended. People had heard that West Geauga would have to change its name to West Geauga-Newbury. People had heard that the Wolverine would be “decked out” in black armor from here on out. The whole school was being repainted and re-branded…the list goes on. But was there any truth to it?

In late January the hallways are significantly warmer and students notice, that Superintendent Dr. Markwardt is coming for a visit that day. The freshmen and sophomore classes were called into the auditorium Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, so that the superintendent could clear up any misinformation regarding the situation. Here’s what we now know:

  • Newbury’s school board voted 3 to 2 on a territory transfer with West Geauga, with 3 voting for the territory transfer and 2 voting to remain an independent district.
  • The Newbury board passed a resolution, stating its desire to transfer its territory to West Geauga. The West G Board reciprocated, passing a resolution agreeing to continue discussions with the idea that a probable consolidation would occur for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • With 347 students, K through 12, each grade could receive new Newbury students. Some current Newbury kids could transfer to other places. West G’s enrollment could increase by approximately 250 kids.
  • If the requirements are met, the probable consolidation would take place in 2020. West G is powerless to influence what the Newbury BOE does prior to the transfer. We can state our wishes, not set conditions. The current junior and senior classes would, obviously, not be impacted.
  • West G is staying West G — no if’s, and’s, or but’s. No Wolverines decked out in black armor (as cool as that might have been), and no new paint job. In functionality, we’re just receiving some new kids.
  • Dr. Markwardt plans to make a distinct effort to make the Newbury kids feel as comfortable and welcome as possible. To do this, he explained that he will be talking to Newbury staff and students about their traditions and how those traditions can be brought over to West Geauga. (For example — if West Geauga was to merge with, say, Chardon, and the superintendent of Chardon was to do the same, we might bring over our tradition of painting murals).
  • The superintendent placed a pad of paper on the table in the front of the room and offered that any student — at least in the sophomore class, as I was in the speech for the sophomores — come up and write his/her name if she/he would like to help with such welcome plans. I am proud to say that by the time I came up to write my name, the list stretched down the sheet and onto the back.

But you all probably know much of this by now; you’ve seen the flyers and read the other, more sophisticated articles in the city newspapers and on the Internet. While we might know the facts, do we know what people have to say about it? With so many people at the ready to help, and knowing the nature of the student body, myself, I guessed that the students and teachers at West Geauga would have some opinions on the matter. So, I asked, “How do you feel about the territory transfer with Newbury?” Some of the responses follow…

“I don’t care much, really. As a senior not caring as much about the underclassmen, I don’t mind much if 20-30 some kids come in our class.” –Elise Rataizzak, 10th grade

“I don’t think it’ll affect us much. I just feel bad for the kids who have to join a whole new school — especially the kids that’ll be seniors. No strong feelings, really.” Taidhgin McElroy, 10

“I mean, I’m not particularly excited about it, but I do think it’ll be cool because there’ll be new people here.” Alyssa Galbraith, 10

“I think overall, especially long term, it’s going to be good for both districts. It’ll probably be an adjustment, at first — for the Newbury kids especially — for everyone. It’s always sad when teachers and staff lose their jobs, and that’s one of the only downfalls.” Mrs.Chelsea Talty, Spanish Teacher

I also asked, “What ideas do you have to welcome the new kids?”

“Like Dr. Markwardt said, bringing over their traditions would be a good idea. I also feel that we should integrate them heavily into the student body so that things don’t become separated and rival-like, so that they’ll quickly make friends here.”

Sarah Bialosky, 10

 “Maybe treat them like normal people? Try to include them, invite them, and make them feel at home.” Daniel Apsey, 10

Stay Tuned.

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