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Contributions Growing for Disney Trip
Posted 2/6/2024 at 1:45:27 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Disney
CONNORVILLE-Students planning to attend a culinary competition at Disney World this spring are getting an abundance of support through generous community contributions.
  Teacher Luke Fabry and eight students from his Foods 2 class are planning to attend the Cook Around the World Competition at Disney World Epcot in Orlando on April 26-29. Participants receive a protein and ingredients and select a random envelope featuring a culture on which to base their dish. The contest gives high schoolers a chance to compete in a hands-on culinary experience and hear from representatives of top colleges and universities about career opportunities in the culinary and hospitality fields, plus they can learn and hear from top celebrity chefs. Judges include representatives from Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida and Valencia College in Orlando while professional chef Jet Tila is the celebrity mentor. The students will also attend a leadership seminar and spend their free time enjoying the parks and amenities.
  The BLHS students have nearly reached their goal by conducting fundraisers both in-school and for the public and the most recent was a Jan. 21 soup dinner benefit which proved to be quite fruitful.
  “The soup benefit was hugely successful and we made $1,600 in three hours,” Fabry said. “We raised $12,000 in four months.”
  Other fundraisers included selling macaroni and cheese and pulled pork meals, making lunches for teachers and holding bake sales at the school. Donations have also been accepted and the community has been gracious, sending checks from $50 to $1,500 to help finance the journey. Fabry cited companies, churches, organizations and residents including the Hopewell United Methodist Church, Lamont and Esther McCoy, Roger and Margaret Warren, the Buckeye Ruritans, Wells Township Haunted House and Intex Services LLC and said more contributions were being accepted.
  “We made a payment for the trip and are saving for transportation,” Fabry added. “We are also going to get kids things to remember the experience.”
   Fabry said he always wanted to have students take part in competitions and field trips and the district administration has been very supportive. He hopes to attend the Florida contest every other year and provide other opportunities for his classes. He and his Food 2 students, which include seniors Samantha Ankrom, Kiarra Eastham, Skylar Ebright, Shayleigh Hornyak, Ryder Kinberg-Colabelli, Preston Lindsey and Nyja Short and junior Brennin Takach, are also sending thank-you letters to those who have contributed.
   Eastham and Hornyak said they were thrilled to attend and would enjoy the event.
   “I am very excited,” said Eastham. “I’m looking forward to the whole experience. I’m going to enjoy watching 
   “It’s definitely a great experience,” said Hornyak. “Our school never gets an opportunity to do this and it’s nice that we get to go.”
  Anyone interested in donating for the trip may send a check payable to the Buckeye Local School District, in care of Luke Fabry, to Buckeye Local High School, 10692 State Route 150, Rayland, Ohio, 43943.

(Photo Caption: Buckeye Local High School seniors Kiarra Eastham, left, and Shayleigh Hornyak are among eight Foods 2 students attending the Cook Around the World competition at Disney World Epcot this April. The group has been holding fundraisers to make the trip and supporters have generously given to the cause. More moneymakers are being planned and donations are still being accepted at the school.)
BL’s Guthrie Earns Teacher Impact Award
Posted 2/5/2024 at 1:40:23 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Guthrie
ADENA-Educators not only teach children about grammar, mathematics and the like, they also hope to motivate young minds and develop good stewards for the future.
  For Danica Guthrie, a kindergarten teacher at Buckeye West Elementary, she has certainly served as an inspiration by gaining the 2024 Teacher Impact Award through the Lee Alexander West Spiritual (L.A.W.S.) Movement, which was founded by Cookie West in honor of her late son, Lee. Guthrie was among six people selected for the honor out of 144 nominations which were made by area high school students in grades 9-12.
  She was nominated by Alexis Slie, her former student and a freshman at Buckeye Local High School, and took part in the annual ceremony on Jan. 31. Guthrie was touched to be recognized, especially by one of her past pupils.
  “I am honored that a student would think so highly of me so many years later that they would write that I have made a positive impact in their lives,” she said. “Sometimes as teachers, we wonder if we matter to our students. Knowing that I made a difference with my students helps motivate me to do my best in the classroom.”
  Guthrie, who resides near Mount Pleasant, has been teaching for the past 15 years and said she became an educator to help students grow and learn.
  “Learning didn’t come easy for me when I was in school. When I decided to become a teacher, it was because I wanted students to enjoy being in school and to show all the tricks and strategies that helped me through the years,” she added. “I don’t feel that I have any special tools, but I focus on the basic skills, especially in the early years of school. I also feel that I have a lot of energy to bring to my classroom and making a connection to your students helps make your classroom successful.” 
  She graduated from Buckeye Local High School and earned her degree in early childhood education from Ohio University. Guthrie, who also has two children ages 2 and 4, also taught third grade before heading the kindergarten class and looks to inspire her young charges each and every day.
  “One of my favorite things I learned to love about teaching is having your students see the way they grow over the years. This is something that you don’t learn until you have some time in the classroom. I miss most of my students after I have them in my class and it is so heartwarming when your previous students stop and talk to you the following school year. I love to hear how they like their classes, new friends and just anything they want to share. It is also really nice to see how they transform as they enter high school then college.”

   West Elementary Principal Brian DiCola said Guthrie exemplifies the heart of a teacher.
    “She is one of the best teachers I've worked with both here and in other districts. So, in a positive way, this award comes as no surprise. Her impact on her students is evident every day she's here, and the fact that she made a mark on a student still after all these years is a testament to her. She gets to know, empathizes with and values every single one of her students. She's one of the most compassionate, yet demanding teachers I've met and she fully deserves this honor,” DiCola commented.
   “Mrs. Guthrie is our first elementary teacher we’ve honored over the years. When we realized she was an elementary teacher, it really blessed our hearts,” said Cookie West. “Alexis, a ninth grader, remembered the impact Mrs. Guthrie had made on her life. She submitted a powerful and eloquent nomination. Mrs. Guthrie said the night of the ceremony that she was wondering if she was ‘making an impact in her students' lives.’ She received her answer.”
  L.A.W.S. began after Lee Alexander West passed away in 2012 and has since presented 61 awards to teachers, community members and first responders. More Teacher Impact Award winners this year included Christina Henderson, Amanda Coldebella, Jessie Clark and Samantha Fornsaglio while the Bay Six Project received the Village Impact Award and the Wintersville Fire and Rescue along with Chief Rob Herrington gained the Heart Award for first responders.
   “It's our pleasure to share Lee's heart of service, love and honor with our award recipients,” West said. “We are excited to share his heart with our recipients each year.”

(Photo Caption: Buckeye West Elementary kindergarten teacher Danica Guthrie is pictured with former student Alexis Slie, who nominated her for the 2024 Teacher Impact Award through the Lee Alexander West Spiritual Movement, and L.A.W.S. founder Cookie West. Guthrie was among six educators selected from 144 nominations by area high schoolers and was recognized along with community groups and first responders on Jan. 31.)
Literacy Leads the Way at Buckeye South
Posted 1/26/2024 at 9:47:13 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Literacy
TILTONSVILLE-Literacy is leading the way at Buckeye South Elementary by promoting reading with a variety of activities.
  The school has been raising funds to add a book vending machine for grades PreK-6 and is just shy of reaching the $6,300 goal. Principal Lori Roberts said sales and public contributions have been filling the till and donations are still being accepted. Hopes are to acquire the machine this year to distribute books for student birthdays to Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) rewards.
  “Last year when we had our Scholastic Book Fair, we discussed getting a book vending machine,” Roberts said. “We have a community engagement committee that sent letters to organizations and companies in town.”
  Those efforts drew $500 donations from the Yorkville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4811 and the Super C gas station in Smithfield, a $100 contribution from McDonald’s in Martins Ferry and $1,000 from MarkWest Energy. In addition, the school has held fundraisers by selling Smillows scented pillows, candygrams and lollipops and conducting penny wars. 
  “We’re pretty close and need $1,000,” Roberts continued, saying Buckeye Local High School teacher Dan Davis will help create a customized decorative wrap for the machine and about 220 new books will be supplied through points earned from the book fair.
  Meanwhile, activities are set throughout the month to enhance literacy. Among them are a “Stop, Drop and Read” program, where students to take a break in class and read for a brief time, and a Mario Bros.-themed literacy night titled “Reading is Super!” on Feb. 29. Roberts said fifth-graders in the afterschool program have ventured down to the Tiltonsville Branch Library for field trips while library officials have also supported initiatives by attending open houses.
 Another event is the unveiling of the “Little Libraries for Big Learners” project led by kindergarten teacher Jenny Potts to spread a love of reading both inside and outside the school. Potts received more than $600 through the Jefferson County Educational Service Center’s Best Practice Grant program to acquire small decorative boxes which will contain age-appropriate books in a sharing program. About 320 students as well as the community can benefit, and pupils can access books before and after school as well as during lunch or recess and designated title times, plus they can take, borrow and leave a book for another person to enjoy. Potts also plans to unveil the boxes with ribbon cuttings during the month and students and the public can easily access books.
  “We are trying to promote literacy in the community,” she said. “We will have boxes on every floor of the building and outside, and you don’t have to buy a new book to love it.”
  She has accepted donated books from students and the public and will also include coloring books with lessons on letters and words. Her hope is that all ages will gain a pleasure for prose. 
  Anyone interested in donating to the book vending machine project may make checks payable to the Buckeye South Elementary PTO, 100 Walden Ave., Tiltonsville, Ohio, 43963, while those wanting to donate a gently used book for the Little Libraries project may bring them to the building. For more information about either project, contact the school at (740) 859-2800.

(Photo Cutline: Kindergarteners Camryn Boughan, Easton Clutter and Kynleigh Kalman display one of the new Little Libraries for Big Learners boxes being added at Buckeye South Elementary in Tiltonsville, where the school is promoting literacy through a series of activities throughout February. The boxes will be available inside and outside the building for students and the public to access gently used literature for free in a shared format while a fundraiser is underway to acquire a book vending machine to reward new prose as prizes. In addition, reading activities and a literacy night are also being planned.)
International Culture Fair is “Preserving the Past”
Posted 1/19/2024 at 11:26:57 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local High School’s Foreign Language Club is taking a look back as it prepares for the 19th Annual International Culture Fair.
  This year’s event, which is themed “Preserving the Past,” is set for Feb. 22 from 5-8 p.m. and will include plenty of food and festivities. Bonnie Soos, who shares co-advisory duties with Savana Granat, said admission is free but food-tasting tickets will be sold for 25 cents each to sample fare from around the world.
   Tables will dot the commons area featuring exhibits from the Americas and Europe to Asia and beyond, while students will provide ethnic dishes based upon the countries they represent. The food tasting will occur from 5-7 p.m. followed by a theatrical performance in the theater at 8 p.m.
   “Our Foreign Language club officers chose the theme because they love history,” Soos explained. “There will be food tasting and cultural displays from 40 different countries, live international music by Jason Garczyk, children’s activities, theatrical performances and a 50-50 raffle.”
   She continued that about 100 club members will participate by creating the displays, dressing as historical figures and working at the fair. 
  “Each group is asked to construct a historical landmark that represents their country and the public will be judging their favorite structure, along with their favorite display and international cuisine.”
   Proceeds from the food tasting and raffle support field trips and cultural events for the student organization. The fair has drawn hundreds of people each year, and hopefully the upcoming festivities will include a similar response.
   “This is such a huge community event and there’s definitely a few hundred people in attendance. It gets bigger each year and there is a constant line at the door.”
   Soos concluded that the event has been held for nearly two decades and organizers were thankful for the ongoing support.
   “I, along with my former colleagues, began it in 2005 and I am very proud of what it has become. It is a BLHS tradition,” she said. “I thank the community for their constant support over the years. I, along with my co-worker/co-advisor, Savana Granat, are very excited to see how this year's fair takes shape. Our club members do an amazing job every year. We love their enthusiasm, creativity and their passion towards culture.”
BLBOE Organizes for Year
Posted 1/11/2024 at 9:49:23 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLBOE Reorganizes for 2024
DILLONVALE-The Buckeye Local Board of Education regrouped and took official action during its first meeting of 2024.
  Ashley West was re-elected president with Teresa George named vice president during the organizational session and the board approved various operational policies to run the district. A series of actions were taken during the subsequent regular session, which primarily included approving personnel.
  Among employment matters, the board approved classified contracts with bus driver Gary Lucas obtaining a one-year pact for the district and maintenance worker Jackson Otto and aide Samantha Yanik receiving continuing contracts for the district and Buckeye North Elementary, respectively. Resolutions were also approved to hire Karen Barcus, Brooklynn Miller, Greta Gazda-Roe and Hailee Nelson as long-term substitute teachers for additional subsequent semester for the second semester of the 2023-24 school year, as well as to employ Jason Merryman as head cross country coach and Sam Jones as head golf coach at Buckeye Local High School.
 Superintendent Coy Sudvary then honored officials for School Board Recognition Month for January and said the Ohio School Boards Association had certificates of appreciation for members. Nutrition, Inc. also provided dinner for members that evening and Sudvary lauded the leaders for their work.
 “We appreciate your time and sacrifices for the students at Buckeye Local,” he said. “It’s a breath of fresh air to have a board that supports the staff, students and administration, so we appreciate you.”
 He also recognized December Employees of the Month including Luke Fabry at BLHS, Bob Fetty at Buckeye Local Jr. High, Lindsey Breon at Buckeye North, Cindy Dompa at Buckeye South and Rebecca Donley at Buckeye West. He further announced no school on Jan. 15 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Feb. 19 for President’s Day, parent-teacher conferences on Jan. 18 at BLJSHS at 3:30-7 p.m. and the elementary schools from 4:30-8 p.m. and report cards on Jan. 20; said a District Leadership Team session was moved to Feb. 20; and announced that teachers and administrators would be attending the Ohio Tech Conference for the first time in years to learn about advancements in the classroom and other technology.
 Meanwhile, district Maintenance and Safety Director Tony Panepucci that paintwork was underway at the district office with plans set for the board room. He also added that several line breaks occurred over Christmas break which were likely linked to the Tri-County Water System’s line break, but they were repaired. Panepucci then announced a safety meeting was set for Jan. 24 at 2:30 p.m. at the building, weather permitting.
 Board member Melissa Supanik then asked if the new cement added at school buildings would be damaged by the use of salt to treat ice during the winter. Panepucci responded that the material was an eco-friendly mix and it should not affect it.
--The board thanked Wells Township road crew and ABC Lawn Care for transporting and spreading mulch around the playground areas at South Elementary;
--Officials touted third-graders at South who were selected to be published in this spring’s “Spooky Sagas” book;
--Buckeye Local Classroom Teachers Association President Gen Varkony said the organization received a wellness grant from the Eastern Ohio Education Association. She added that the BLCTA will also give two scholarships to graduates this year, including one for education majors and another for the grandchild of a past or current member;
--Sudvary asked for thoughts and prayers for the family of volunteer bowling coach James Lish, who recently passed away;
--The board held an executive session on personnel and legal matters with no action officially taken;
--The next regular meeting was reset for Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the district office.

(Photo Caption: The Buckeye Local Board of Education regrouped for 2024 and named Ashley West and Teresa George as president and vice president for the year. Officials conducted a brief organizational meeting followed by a regular session to approve items for operation over the 2023-24 school term, plus leaders were honored for School Board Recognition Month for January. Pictured are, front from left, Teresa George and Ashley West. Back: Brooke Stingle, Clint Powell and Melissa Supanik.)
Elementary Programs Gaining Momentum
Posted 12/28/2023 at 12:27:54 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
DILLONVALE-Students are taking advantage of before-and-after school programs at Buckeye Local’s three elementary buildings with plans eyed to create another session this summer.
   School board members met on Monday and heard from Dr. Susan Bachmann, program manager for the district, who updated officials on the status of activities at Buckeye North, South and West after the district received the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Learning Grant this past year. Buckeye Local was among 142 applicants that was awarded with North in Brilliant and West in Adena each gaining $100,000 and South in Tiltonsville gaining $185,000. Programs run from October to April from 8-8:30 a.m. and again from 3:30-6 p.m., but officials are looking to add another in June.
   Dr. Bachmann shared attendance numbers, saying West and North each had an average of 30 students taking part while South yielded about 40-50 pupils. She added that the sessions include physical fitness, interventions for reading and math and instructional time on various topics while dinner was provided at the afterschool session. Students also have homework help, technology to complete classwork plus social-emotional and character development lessons. Additionally, the program is being funded for the next five years with the amount decreasing annually.
  Among other action, the board:
--Conducted an executive session on property matters with no action taken;
--Passed a resolution for the treasurer to purchase an employee dishonesty and faithful performance of duty policy through the Ohio School Plan to provide coverage for those school officers, employees, or appointees who are otherwise required by law to acquire a surety bond before entering upon the discharge of public duties;
--Authorized the district to participate in the 2023-2024 Close-Up Foundation Program to be held March 3-8, 2024. The board would agree to sponsor two Buckeye Local students;
--Approved an overseas trip for foreign language students to Spain on March 21-28 and an overnight trip to Disney World on April 26-29 for students to participate in an international culinary contest;
--Accepted the resignation of Tori Luyster as a volunteer softball coach; approved one-year classified contracts for secretary Amanda Price and aide Ashlyn Haught, both at North; hired Katie Rogers as long-term substitute teacher for the second semester of the 2023-24 school year; approved pupil activity contracts to Joe Soos and Stevie Roberts, co-freshman boys’ basketball coaches at BLHS and Abbey Otto Wilson, head volleyball coach at BLHS; 
--Named Melissa Supanik as president pro tempore for the organizational meeting on Jan. 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the district office.
“Ambitious Abbey” Returns to Buckeye West
Posted 12/4/2023 at 10:15:34 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Ambitious Abbey
ADENA-Local author Abbey Duplaga made a return to Buckeye West Elementary in Adena to read her latest tale, “Ambitious Abbey Gets Organized.”
  Duplaga, a St. Clairsville native who now resides in Bridgeport, delighted youngsters with the story of her childhood self as she is inspired—and inspires others—to spruce up their lives with some simple cleaning efforts. Little Abbey decides to tidy up her room one day and leads her parents and siblings to do the same. 
  “The book is based on the trait of responsibility,” she explained. “A lot of times we lead by our actions, and just by being responsible and doing what we’re supposed to do...it inspires people.”
  “Ambitious Abbey Gets Organized” is the fourth in her planned 10-book, rhyme-style series, and she said each one is both fun and educational.
  “I feel like there are so many active kids’ minds and these stories bring virtues, morals and character back to them,” she explained. “I was led by the Lord to bring character building the kids.”
  Duplaga served as a public accountant for a decade when she was driven to write children’s stories through some divine intervention. She took that leap of faith and for the past six years has generated four tomes that also include the eponymously named “Ambitious Abbey,” “Ambitious Abbey Tries Again” and “Ambitious Abbey Takes the Lead.” She has also traveled around Ohio and West Virginia to as far as Deleware and North Carolina to share her stories and their morals.
  She completed her reading with a question-and-answer session with the students and noted examples of being responsible, such as being nicer to other kids, performing school work and doing chores at home. One student asked how long it took to complete a book and Duplaga replied between 2 ½ to 4 ½ hours. She continued that the characters were based on herself and her family and readers will see their continuity in future publications.
  Some exciting news may be coming down the pike with “Ambitious Abbey” becoming an animated series as Duplaga said her illustrator is looking to develop a show, but that is a future goal. For now, the writer is working on her next 32-page tale that is due in 2025.
 “It’s called ‘Ambitious Abbey and the Balancing Act’ and is about juggling activities such as sports, gymnastics and school. She has to decide which activity she would continue doing,” Duplaga commented. “I just [write] to pour out love on pages.”
 Meanwhile, students had an opportunity to purchase copies of her books during the visit. They can also be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart.com and at ambitiousabbey.com.
(Photo Caption: Local children’s author Abbey Duplaga delighted students at Buckeye West Elementary with the latest installment in her “Ambitious Abbey” series, returning to the school to read “Ambitious Abbey Gets Organized.” Students also took part in a question-and-answer session and had a chance to purchase some of her books during the visit.)
West Elementary Giving Meals to Families
Posted 11/15/2023 at 1:48:17 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
Buckeye West Thanksgiving
ADENA-Buckeye West Elementary School is doing its part to fill the tables of local families this Thanksgiving by gathering items for its second-annual holiday food drive.
  The school began collecting non-perishable goods and will provide turkeys with all the trimmings to some its own families this holiday. School nurse Mandi Cook is spearheading the effort and said meals will be distributed prior to Thanksgiving break.
  “We started on Nov. 2 and will continue until the 17th,” Cook said. “We want to be able to provide for 20 families. It went really well last year and it’s something we discussed doing yearly.”
  Turkeys were also donated while the children were tasked with bringing boxed and packaged foods. Preschoolers were responsible for canned fruit, kindergarten collecting muffin or cornbread mix, first-grade in charge of gravy packets, second-graders gathering noodles, third-graders collecting cranberry sauce, fourth-graders handling stuffing, fifth-graders bringing macaroni and cheese and sixth-graders overseeing boxed desserts, canned pie filling and boxed pie crusts. Officials said the goal was to ensure all of the families have a meal to share together for Thanksgiving, and to make it extra fun the classes have an incentive to raise the most food items. Cook said the one with the highest amount will earn an ice cream party, but the real reward is simply giving back to the community.
  “[The purpose] is to be able to provide a meal for the families so all of us can enjoy one on Thanksgiving. It does benefit all of the families from this elementary school,” she noted.
  The meals will be distributed to families on Nov. 20 and 21, and for those who cannot collect them at the school Cook and Principal Brian DiCola will deliver the boxes to their homes.
  DiCola said a few extra households will be helped since last year but the school was excited to make a difference.
  “We have a couple more families this year and we try to take care of everybody,” he concluded.
(Photo Caption: Buckeye West Elementary School in Adena is helping its own by holding a Thanksgiving food drive for 20 families this holiday. Turkey and all the trimmings are being donated to help those within the school community and classes are racing to gather the most goods to win an ice cream party, but the real reward is simply to give back. Pictured with some of the items are, front from left, Lukas Stoltey, Remington Fellure, Maverick Opic and Ma’leek Smith. Middle: Mia Kovalski, Sammie Jo Foldi and Rylee Becker. Back: Principal Brian DiCola, Isabella Glauser, school nurse Mandi Cook and Robert Glauser.)
DARE Program Keeps Kids on Track
Posted 10/20/2023 at 11:53:04 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-Each week, Wells Township Police Chief Sean Norman steps into classrooms at Buckeye Local Schools and dons a different title, that of DARE officer.
  He has been speaking to second-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at Buckeye North in Brilliant and eighth-graders at Buckeye Local Jr. High School in Connorville for nearly two decades, and even though the audiences have changed the message has remained the same: making good decisions and having a good character. Chief Norman spends his Tuesdays at North for a 10-week period and Thursdays at the junior high for the entire year and delivers age-appropriate programs designed to help kids stay on the right path.
  DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, but Chief Norman applies real-life scenarios to a wide variety of topics. His most recent session on BLJHS dealt with communication and conflict and one story centered on peer pressure to drink alcohol and more topics range from taking risks to what people believe is happening versus the truth. He also identified a decision-making model that includes defining or describing a situation, assessing choices, responding with a strategy and evaluating what happened and if the strategy worked.
 “We’re asking them to make split-second decisions and they need to practice and learn. It doesn’t help to tell them to be assertive without giving them the teaching tools to do so,” he said. “Every single action has a consequence and they can control them.”
  Chief Norman delves into different topics with the various grades and builds upon them throughout the sessions.
  “The lessons are all age-appropriate and I will work with second-graders on good touch and bad touch, the buddy system and stranger danger. Fourth-grade discusses safety and fifth-grade has a lesson on over-the-counter prescription medication and reading drug facts. Sixth-grade classes are more interactive.”
   He has been providing the program since around 2005 and said the goal is to build character and make good choices.
  “They are really getting it and they understand. They are learning and using what they are learning,” he added. “It’s not math, science or social studies, but they are getting it.”
   Several eighth-graders said they liked working with him and have been learning a lot from the sessions.
  “It’s fun. I’m learning a bunch of stuff,” said James Yoho.
  “He is fun and it’s very helpful,” added Jacob Piatt.
  “He jokes with us and interacts with us,” added Brooke Driscoll.
  “He jokes with us but we actually learn a lot,” commented Allee Polanski.
  Meanwhile, Chief Norman said he has enjoyed leading the program and it would not be successful without the support of the teachers.
   “I’m stepping into their world, so their guidance throughout the years has been crucial.”

(Photo Caption: Wells Township Police Chief Sean Norman has spent nearly two decades as DARE officer for the Buckeye Local School District and makes weekly visits to Buckeye North Elementary and Buckeye Local Jr. High School, where he addresses students about making good choices in life and avoiding drugs. He is pictured during one of his sessions with eighth-graders at BLJHS.)
BLBOE Talks Pact, Projects
Posted 9/25/2023 at 10:30:17 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
DILLONVALE-A recent agreement with its teachers’ union and upcoming projects topped the most recent Buckeye Local Board of Education meeting on Sept. 18.
  Gen Varkony, president of the Buckeye Local Classroom Teachers Association, thanked the board for approving the pact with the union during a Sept. 7 special session. The board had passed the plan, which included some pay increases to meet a state law change mandating a $35,000 minimum teachers’ salary that was included in H.B. 33, the state biennial budget. 
  Superintendent Coy Sudvary said the change impacted 21 employees’ steps on the district salary schedule, but teachers who were not affected received a comparable increase in their step as well. The change was effective for the 2023-24 year.
 “We complied with state standards and have taken steps to make sure it was corrected,” Sudvary added. “This has been an issue in other districts, as well.”
  In other business:
--District Maintenance Supervisor Tony Panepucci updated officials on work on the sewer plant at the high school to replace a majority of the functions over the next week. Panepucci also hoped to see repairs begin soon on the mechanical systems of bleachers in the Panther gym;
--Resolutions were passed in personnel matters to employ Courtney Miller as a part-time teacher and Stephanie Waggoner as a teacher on one-year limited contracts; to correct a measure reflecting the supplemental duty of Sam Jones as Bowling Club co-advisor; to name 21st Century Grant After School Program Site Coordinators Amy McCutcheon at Buckeye North Elementary, Kelley Novak at South and Julie Packer at West; to employ returning substitutes Sarah Lewton and Johni Miller as educational aides and Franki McNeil as a cook/educational aide; add new substitutes Jenna Carpenter and Amanda Dickey as cooks/educational aides/secretaries, Stefanie Lindsay as an educational aide and Carrie Smith as a cook; to give supplemental duties to Jason Merryman as assistant boys’ and girls’ track coach at Buckeye Local Jr. High, Amanda Gruber as sophomore class advisor, Hannah Shaheen as freshman class advisor and Ryan Ighnat as academic challenge advisor at BLHS; to employ Gary Dulkoski as eighth-grade girls’ basketball coach and Amanda Polanski as seventh-grade girls’ basketball coach at BLJHS; Jim Lish, volunteer bowling coach; Jabari Williams, assistant boys’ track coach; Albert Stock, assistant girls’ track coach; Timothy Jacob and Luke Vinci, assistant baseball coaches; J.D. Barath, Alan Burkett and Matthew Scott, volunteer baseball coaches; Joe Soos and Brooklynn Miller and Amanda Polanski, assistant softball coaches; and Tori Luyster and Trevor Zanes, volunteer softball coaches, all at BLHS. Officials also accepted resignations from teacher Lauren Neer and junior high girls’ basketball coach Gary Dulkowski, as well as the retirement of longtime teacher Robert Fetty Jr. effective May 31, 2024. Sudvary thanked Fetty for his service and said he has been an integral part of the school community;
--District Treasurer Merri Matthews reported that a new condensing unit would be purchased for South Elementary, which has faced issues with its walk-in freezer;
--The board approved permanent appropriations for Fiscal Year 2024;
--The board approved an agreement with the Jefferson County Juvenile Court School Liaison Program from Sept. 1, 2023, to Aug. 31, 2024;
--The second reading was approved on a series of board policies;
--The board mentioned the involvement of the BLHS Marching Band and Buckeye North students at the Wellsburg Bridge dedication on Sept. 20, with Sudvary calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime” event;
--Officials recognized 2023 Homecoming Court members Sam Ankrom, Pam Kandrach, Lizzie Stock, Tessah Zeroski, Brynn McKeever, Shayleigh Hornyak, Carson Basich, Nathan Long, Noah Jock, A.J. Devore, Ryder Colabelli and Skyler Ebright. The king will be crowned during the powder puff game on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium with the queen to be named at the homecoming game on Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. The dance is scheduled for Sept. 30 at the high school.
BL Staff Undergoes Safety Training
Posted 8/24/2023 at 10:41:53 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Safety Training
CONNORVILLE- Faculty and staff members in the Buckeye Local School District underwent safety training as they prepared for the new school year.
   About 135 employees from throughout the district got an overview of the new SaferWatch program, learned maneuvers as part of the ALICE initiative and gained insight on deescalating situations as part of their professional development session at Buckeye Local Jr./Sr. High School on Monday. Jefferson County 911 Director Rob Herrington shared details about the SaferWatch initiative that allows the 911 center to access school cameras and locate an intruder. It also provides an app that teachers can download with a panic button for fires or other emergencies.
  Herrington described the app and a wearable fob that instantly notifies 911. He tested the app, which sent an alert of an “active incident” at Buckeye Local to 911 within seconds. Herrington added that SaferWatch helps provide real-time intelligence to responders that is critical when rendering aid.
  “Our goal is to get somebody to you as quickly as we can,” Herrington said. “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work to be prepared. We’re going to test the response to every school this year...and we’re going to be constantly working on this.”
   He explained that with the press of a button, officials can get an accurate pinpoint of where the emergency is. Safety forces have maps of all the schools and have coordinates of cameras in the buildings.
  “The way we’re going to work is we’re going to have 1,500 cameras streaming to the school. There will be an activation, and if there is an emergency we’ll make your cameras hot at 911. It’s important for law enforcement to have information, so streams will be sent [to them] when there is an incident.”
   Herrington clarified that the cameras will only record during actual emergencies. Meanwhile, officials were looking at cell service issues to improve communication and a class roster to track students during evacuations. 
   “Our goal is to be ready for this school year,” he concluded. “We are the first county in Ohio to do this.”
   Next, Sheriff Fred Abdalla Jr. refreshed veteran teachers and informed new staff about the ALICE method, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, to respond to active intruders. It involves alerting people to an active intruder, locking down the facility, properly informing in real time, countering the attacker with barricades, distractions and fighting back and evacuating the premises, if possible. He also stressed situational awareness and outlined the Cooper Color Code of Awareness with white, yellow, orange, red and black to denote levels. White signifies one who is oblivious to their environment; yellow is relaxed and alert; orange is prepared to take action; red is one who responds to a dangerous situation; and black is someone who is stressed and not prepared. 
  “We want you to keep repeating and repeating this training. The more we do it, the more it will become ingrained as an instinct,” he said. “We will also do Stop The Bleed trainings and SaferWatch is important to have. We want to get into the younger classrooms with elementary kids and teach them in a way they can understand.”
   He said the growing number of incidents across the nation has sparked the need for more preparedness.
  “This is everyday life. Everyday across this country there are active shootings in schools and in the workplace.”
   He said teachers also should be vigilant of behaviors and to reach out to the SRO and law enforcement with concerns about students. Help could be rendered sooner and deescalate a potentially violent situation. The sheriff followed up the lesson with several scenarios in which faculty and staff barricaded themselves inside of classrooms or evacuated at the report of an intruder. He and Deputy Rodney Roe, school resource officer, then checked the rooms and advised the groups of how they can improve upon their methods.
  Rounding out the day was a session on deescalating situations by helping students with disruptive behaviors calm down and deter violence. Kristen Robinson and Bre Long of Kendall Behavioral Solutions of Martins Ferry led a discussion on how to diffuse situations through a “Help, Prompt and Wait” approach. The Help approach is effective when the agitated person may be expressing a need or want and something can be given within reason; the Prompt strategy is enforced by requesting a specific alternative to the challenging behavior, such as taking a walk or slow breaths; and the Wait strategy monitors the situation and gives the person time to settle. The strategies may be flexible and interchanged to achieve the appropriate result.
 Common factors affecting behavior include development and lifespan, which includes children learning how to meet basic needs, adolescents adapting to physical changes, increased cognitive ability and onset of puberty, adults having the greatest chance of independence and seniors experiencing a transition to lessened independence due to changes in memory, mobility and more; psychiatric, neurological, medical and physical conditions; traumatic experiences; social learning and identity factors; and strengths and limitations from cognition and sensory to communication and self-management. Robinson explained the “ABC’s of Behavior,” citing the antecedent (whatever happens before the behavior), the behavior (what the person does) and the consequence (what happens after the behavior).
  She said a consequence that results in something the person likes or wants can result in a reinforcement, which can include praise, an activity or a snack or tangible reward. Robinson also cited techniques for staff behavior when dealing with a challenge. Communicating respectfully, clearly and in a positive manner is a plus, while listening to the student and using confident physical behavior and a safety stance were also recommended. Those who continue to struggle with the situation may also step away and let another adult handle the situation.
  “In most cases, de-escalation is most effective when done as early as possible,” she said.
  At the conclusion, district leaders said the safety lessons were important to maintain a secure school environment.
  “We’ve got a lot of things planned for the school year,” said district Safety Coordinator Tony Panepucci. “We are talking with agencies about types of trainings. I think everybody’s been receptive to trainings and unfortunately [school violence] is a common thing you see in the news. I don’t know if we can be fully prepared, but we will be as prepared as we can be. I think we’ve stepped up our emphasis on safety.”
  “Today was to welcome everyone back and to keep in mind that the safety of students is the first priority,” said Superintendent Coy Sudvary.
(Photo Caption: About 135 faculty and staff members underwent safety training at Buckeye Local High School on Monday, where they learned about SaferWatch, ALICE and de-escalation methods. Pictured is Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla Jr. reviewing a barricaded classroom during a scenario.)
Supanik Joins BLBOE
Posted 8/23/2023 at 3:08:16 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
DILLONVALE-Superintendent Coy Sudvary held his first official meeting with the Buckeye Local School Board of Education on Monday, but a new board member was also added following the appointment longtime educator Melissa Supanik.
  Supanik, of Tiltonsville, was named during the Aug. 21 session to fulfill the remaining term of Greg Glover, who was absent from the session but cited personal reasons for his departure in an official resignation letter. Following a brief executive session, the board accepted his resignation and appointed Supanik to complete the term ending this Dec. 31. 
  BLBOE President Ashley West said it was only fitting since Supanik was running for Glover’s vacant seat in the Nov. 7 general election
  “We decided it was in the best interest of the district to appoint Melissa Supanik to occupy the seat for the remainder of the term,” West said. “We’re excited about having her expertise on the board. She was running in the fall and it made sense to bring her on. She’ll be sworn in at the next meeting.”
  West also thanked Glover, who served for one term on the school board, for his service and wished him well.
  For her part, Supanik retired after more than three decades as a teacher and administrator for Buckeye Local Schools but said she was excited to serve in a different capacity.
  “I have spent 35 years in the district and this is a continuation of my background,” she said. “I retired in May. All my life, I’ve been in Buckeye Local.”
  She attended district schools and later served as a handicapped preschool, Title I reading and technology teacher at Buckeye North, South and West Elementary, plus she was principal at West for three years and South for one year between 2007-12. Supanik has also lived in the area with her husband Bob and two stepchildren, Charlie and Bobby, and now enjoys time with her grandson, Kade. But she also sees returning to the district as a thrilling opportunity to bring her experience to the table.
  “I felt I could bring my experience to the board from the other side as a teacher. I just want to make sure Buckeye Local’s the best it can be. I feel under the leadership we have, we can go places.”
  Supanik is expected to be sworn in prior to the next school board meeting on Sept. 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the district office in Dillonvale. Her name remains on the fall ballot along with incumbent Teresa George, who is running unopposed for her board seat, to fill a four-year term starting Jan. 1.
  Among other matters:
--The board addressed concerns with a dilapidated structure at the Buckeye North campus that was part of property recently acquired by Wells Township. District Treasurer Merri Matthews said the township had plans to utilize a former bus garage that has fallen into disrepair, although the sales contract included the removal of the structure. She, Sudvary and North Elementary Principal Susan Nolan all agreed it was in poor condition and should be razed. Matthews said she had spoken with township officials and the district’s attorney would reach out to the township’s counsel about enforcing the contract with the board’s approval. The board later agreed to proceed;
--Matthews announced a negotiating team meeting with the Buckeye Local Classroom Teachers Association on Aug. 30 at the district office;
--Personnel matters were approved with the resignations of teacher Miranda Wesley and bus driver and supplemental bus coordinator Lori Vinci, the latter who became district transportation supervisor; the re-employment of Stephanie Waggoner and Angelee Kokosinski; the employment of long-term substitute teachers Karen Barcus, Cheryl DeYarmon, Brooklynn Miller, Hailee Nelson, Allison Trekal and Greta Gazda-Roe as long-term substitute teachers, bus driver Gary Lucas and Beth Petrosino as district supplemental bus coordinator; the continuing contract of custodian Danny McComb; cooks Angela Taylor and Brian Young, custodians Dustin Jarvis, Mark Olenar, Dominic Panepucci and Leroy Strupe, educational aides Emily Beck, Danielle DaGrava and Kelly Sutphin and educational aide/secretary Caryn Porter as returning substitutes; cook and educational aides Rachel Blower and Rene Fields, cooks Paula Brown, Stephanie Lindsay, Heather Mullins, Carol Nestor and Michelle Steffik and cook, educational aide and secretary Jordan Brookins; and supplemental duties for Donald Yeager for head girls’ track coach at BLHS, Lucas Fabry as assistant bowling coach at BLHS and Bowling Club co-advisor at BLJHS, Katie Beeman as assistant girls’ basketball coach at BLHS, Stephanie Sliva as volunteer girls’ basketball coach and Alonna Morrison as National Honor Society advisor at BLHS; am Jackson Otto as assistant wrestling coach at BLHS, Joe Soos as assistant boys’ basketball coach at BLHS and Richard Bolock II as volunteer football coach at BLJHS;
--Officials also approved the retirement of cook Toni Fillippi, with Sudvary thanking her for her many years of service to the students and staff of Buckeye Local Schools. She was wished the best in her endeavors;
--The board named West as a delegate and Brooke Stingle as alternate to serve the district at the annual Ohio School Boards Association in November;
--Leaders congratulated Susan Nolan for the successful Back-to-School Bash, recognized Kaitlyn Merkel as the Jefferson County Fair Queen, lauded students involved in the fair program and wished everyone good luck in the new school year.
Autism Unit Started at Buckeye Local
Posted 8/11/2023 at 12:38:25 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Autism Unit
DILLONVALE-Buckeye Local students with autism have a learning space for themselves with the formation of a new unit at Buckeye North Elementary.
  A classroom and sensory room have been created in the Brilliant building and eight pupils will obtain their education while remaining within the district. Julie Packer, district director of preschool, special education and student services, said it was a matter of fulfilling a growing need.
  “We are opening an autism unit, and because of a special education law we can only hold eight kids and it’s already full. There is a high need for it right now,” Packer said. “It was my first big project [since taking the district post last year]. There aren’t enough facilities in our area to service the kids we have.”
  The facility is staffed with teacher Stephanie Sliva and three aides and the sensory room offers swings, sensory tubs, a relaxation corner, a music and movement corner and tactile sensory items to desensitize affected students. She added that the items can be swapped out at any time for more individualized care and the program is being funded through the district. An open house was recently held to showcase the site and Packer hopes to enhance the program at the high school and two other elementary schools.
  “Our goal is to have enough units available to deescalate and reinvigorate those students. I’m very excited about it,” Packer concluded. “I’m looking forward to expanding to the junior-senior high school and adding more units in the future. It will require more trained staff to make it the best possible for the kids.”

(Photo Cutline: A new autism unit has been established at Buckeye North Elementary where students can obtain their education while also providing a sensory room complete with swings, a relaxation corner, tactile sensory items and other equipment for individualized care. Julie Packer, district director of preschool, special education and student services, said the site will fill a growing need within Buckeye Local Schools and plans are to expand the program in the future.)
Vinci Takes the Wheel as Supervisor
Posted 8/3/2023 at 9:39:10 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Lori Vinci
DILLONVALE-Longtime bus driver Lori Vinci is taking the wheel as the new transportation supervisor for Buckeye Local Schools.
  Vinci, of Bloomingdale, began her duties on Aug. 1 and will celebrate 31 years with the district this October. She has driven hundreds of students in grades K-12 during her tenure, including Buckeye Local, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School or area Catholic and Christian school attendants, and while she was ecstatic about taking this next step she said it also was a bit bittersweet.
  “I’ve loved driving the bus and it was the best decision I ever made. The hardest part was known I would be leaving the kids,” she said. “The bus kids were my kids. I had a lot of special needs kids with autism and watched them grow into the people they are.”
  Vinci said the job combined her love of kids and an enjoyment for driving and she gained more knowledge about routes and operations through the years. She most recently helped as trip coordinator under the administration of Superintendent Scott Celestin.
  “Scott was retiring and I helped him for the last several years with runs, new students and as trip coordinator. I applied for this position and was hired in June.”
  Until recently, transportation fell under the umbrella of Celestin’s duties. Now that it is a separate position once again, Vinci wants to put her sole focus on ways to efficiently run the department, which includes about 16 drivers and a fleet of 20 vehicles that cover 128 square miles and transport an estimated 1,470 students. She said one plan is to refine routes for smoother operations.
  “I’m looking forward to riding the routes and refining them and getting things back on track,” she said. “It will be a great year and we have a good staff, and I want to do my best for the district and the kids.”

(Photo Cutline: Longtime bus driver Lori Vinci is taking the wheel as the new transportation supervisor at Buckeye Local Schools. Among her hopes are to make the department operate more efficiently by refining bus routes and other areas.)
Sudvary Begins New Role as BL Superintendent
Posted 8/2/2023 at 9:56:53 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Sudvary Returns
DILLONVALE-Coy Sudvary officially began his first day as the new superintendent in the Buckeye Local School District on Aug. 1, but for him it is familiar territory.
  Sudvary received a one-year contract to head the district and spent time in July working with Superintendent Scott Celestin to become acclimated during the transitional period, but he is already knowledgeable about the facilities and many staff members since he is a Panther alum and worked in the district for 18 years. That aspect gives him a distinct advantage into filling the role.
  “It feels great. It’s very exciting and I’ve felt so grateful to transition from principal to superintendent,” he said. “I worked with Scott Celestin for 10 days in July and he’s been very helpful throughout my career and during my transition.”
  The Rayland native graduated from BLHS in 1995 and earned a history degree from Franciscan University, then he received his master’s in administration from Salem International University. He was a student teacher and long-term substitute at Buckeye Local and then taught history at the high school beginning in the Fall of 2001. He was later employed at Buckeye North Middle School but returned to BLHS, where he also coached junior high and varsity basketball plus junior high football and track and went on to become the assistant principal and principal. Sudvary moved on as principal of Wellsville High School, where he was employed for the past four years, and has resided in Steubenville with his wife, Jessica, and their three daughters, Arabel, Leila and Sylvia. 
  Now that he has returned, Sudvary hopes to observe and familiarize himself with the district and make any necessary improvements over time. He said he has been in talks with school officials about future projects but wants to be fiscally responsible with district funds.
  “There are a lot of exciting things happening now. We have renovation projects going on [that began under Celestin’s administration] and we’ve had conversations about improving facilities, but we need to do some strategic planning and prioritize improvements in the buildings,” he commented. “I’m also getting up to speed on programs and staffing.”
  Current updates range from bathrooms, a pyramid roof and gym floor at the high school to the removal of the preschool modular buildings at Buckeye West Elementary with the incorporation of those classes inside the main building, in addition to concrete repairs and replacement at North and South Elementary. His experience with technology led to high-tech upgrades while he led BLHS and he hopes to eventually provide more STEM education in grades K-12 and professional development to incorporate the teaching staff. Meanwhile, he praised the maintenance staff for their diligence in preparing the sites for the first day of classes on Aug. 24 and said professional development days are scheduled for Aug. 21-23 for further district organization. Sudvary noted that school staffing has been mostly filled but there is always a need for substitute teachers, custodians, secretaries and other employees and anyone interested may contact Jelene Creamer at the district office at (740) 769-7395.
   Sudvary said he was pleased to be back at Buckeye Local and it feels like home in many ways.
   “I spent 18 years here and there are a lot of familiar faces and good people doing good things. I’m excited for the opportunity to be superintendent,” he continued. “I want to be there as a support mechanism for the staff and students and also make sure we are being accountable. [Celestin] got the district moving in a positive direction and I want to carry that forward.”
(Photo Caption: Coy Sudvary has returned to Buckeye Local Schools in a new role as superintendent and is getting acclimated to the inner workings of the district. The former teacher and high school principal said he is glad to be back and hopes to keep moving the district in a positive direction.)
Vendors Sought for BL Bash
Posted 6/27/2023 at 1:13:32 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-School may be out for summer, but the Buckeye Local School District is already looking ahead with the annual Back to School Bash in August.
  This year’s fete is set for Aug. 6 from 3-5 p.m. at Buckeye Local High School and chairperson Susan Nolan, who serves as principal at Buckeye North Elementary, said letters have been sent throughout the community seeking interest in vendors while donations of money, door prizes and school supplies are also being accepted.
   “I have about 10 [vendors] on the list but we just started getting the ball rolling,” Nolan said. “I have mailed out about 130 letters. The purpose of the bash is to provide students and families school supplies to start the year off right. It also promotes the exposure of activities and items available to students.”
   Vendors are invited to have a table or booth and provide activities or free information about their organization or business. The cost is $10 if they bring a table or $15 if one must be supplied for them, and participants are also asked to donate a door prize for the event. 
  The bash focuses on education, health, wellness and safety and also has featured music from the BLHS Marching Band to a dunking booth. It made its return last August following a two-year hiatus during the COVID pandemic and attracted hundreds of people to enjoy free items, treats, face painting, prize drawings and emergency vehicle displays by local safety forces, plus attendants purchased goods from crafts to jewelry and met teachers and principals from Buckeye North, South and West Elementary, Buckeye Local Jr. High, BLHS as well as district leaders.
  Nolan said the bash has been held for more than a decade and organizers try to add something different each year.
   “We are trying to incorporate a few new things but plan on having free haircuts and an ice cream stand and McDonald’s is going to have a table,” she added.  “We usually have about 25 to 40 tables and vendors range from churches and school organizations to outside agencies, plus we’ve had about 400-600 students with parents, family and friends attending as well.”
   She was grateful to those who have backed the bash and the students through the years.
   “We appreciate all that they do to support the Buckeye Local School District,” she added.
   Contact Nolan by July 10 to reserve a spot, mail in donations or arrange for items to be collected at their business. Checks should be made payable to the Buckeye Local School District and mailed to Jelene Creamer at the district office at 6899 State Highway 150, Dillonvale, Ohio, 43917. For more information, contact Nolan at (740) 381-0517.
BLJHS Adds Outdoor Recreation Area
Posted 6/6/2023 at 9:49:02 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLJHS Outdoor Rec Area
CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local Jr. High School students have a place to go for respite with the addition of an outdoor recreation area.
  Principal Jason Kovalski said the $60,000 project funded through the Brightway Foundation includes a basketball court, benches and a pavilion with picnic tables for kids to enjoy the outdoors. Kovalski applied for grant funding through the foundation and said the facility located at the southeast end of the campus is a testament to the organization’s namesake, Kara Bright, who was a teacher and coach at the school and a mentor to area youth.
  “I applied for the funding, and with the school year ending we have completed most of the project,” he said. “We have a digital billboard and pavilion and the basketball hoops were installed.”
  He added that Dave Lucas’ carpentry students at the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School constructed the park-style benches and picnic tables as part of the project. Erb Electric of Bridgeport added the digital billboard on the front of the school building while Valley City Supply of Valley City, Ohio, provided the pavilion and Zeroski Excavating of Adena installed the concrete and hoops on the court. Work began in April and mostly wrapped up in May, but the final step includes sealing the pavement and adding lines on the court over the summer.
  The grant was given last year before the organization was reformed as the Kara Bright Foundation, and Bright was a former Buckeye Local teacher and coach who helped kids through the Brightway Center in Smithfield. Kovalski, who knew Bright as “Cobby,” previously worked on the board and remembered him as an inspiration. Bright had been his junior high physical education teacher and a family friend, and Kovalski said the creation of the Brightway Center helped area youth. Bright, a 1945 graduate of Smithfield High School, taught and coached at Buckeye Local in addition to Virginia and North Carolina. He also founded the Ohio Fellowship of Christian Athletes and served as Ohio Sports World director for Sports World Ministry, but his largest contribution to the community was the conversion of his 180-acre Smithfield farm into the Brightway Center in 1997. It served as a Christian retreat and activity center and offered opportunities for both youth and families. The organization carried on Bright’s mission following his death in 2005 and continued to support youth for a quarter century. The Smithfield property was sold in 2021 and the Brightway Foundation dissolved last year, but the Kara Bright Foundation was developed to maintain his legacy.
  It will certainly live on at Buckeye Local, where students will have a chance to enjoy facilities both inside and outside the school. In addition to the recreational site, work is beginning on the Kara Bright Court in the Panther Gym at BLHS with a new basketball court and fresh coat of paint in an estimated $80,000 upgrade starting this month. It will also include a mural by the Barn Artist and extra funding comes from the high school’s PRIDE campaign. That project should be finished by the start of the new school year.
  Meanwhile, Kovalski was grateful for the foundation board’s support in seeing his plan come to life.
  “I’d like to thank the board from the Brightway Center for allowing us to have this opportunity to carry on the name of Coach Kara Bright here at Buckeye Local Jr. High School. The project was completed and the staff and students have been enjoying the generous donation.”

(Photo Cutline: Students Jayce Carter and James Yoho square off at basketball while students Josh Bucey, Samantha Swiger and teacher Hailee Nelson (pictured second from right) relax at the new outdoor recreational site created at Buckeye Local Jr. High School. Funding was given through the Brightway Foundation and Principal Jason Kovalski said it will carry on the legacy of past teacher, coach and organization founder Kara Bright. The $60,000 project includes a pavilion, basketball court, benches, picnic tables and a digital sign with some pavement work set to wrap up soon.)
Celestin Completing Final Year at Buckeye Local
Posted 6/5/2023 at 9:35:48 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Scott Celestin
DILLONVALE-As the 2022-23 school year draws to a close, Scott Celestin is capping off his final term as superintendent of Buckeye Local Schools.
  Celestin will submit his formal letter during the June 26 school board meeting with plans to officially step down on July 31, but he looks back with pride upon the people he’s worked with and the students he’s served during his nearly two-decade tenure with the district. Buckeye Local includes an estimated 1,700 students and 200 teachers and staff and he said creating a positive learning climate was of utmost importance.
  “One of the goals in my career was to be a superintendent, and the board was gracious enough to give me a chance. I wanted to get Buckeye Local in a good place financially and culturally and I feel like I’ve achieved that,” he said. “When I say ‘I,’ I mean my team—the schools and the unions. When things go better in the district, it’s everyone working together from the teachers to the board.”
  He has been an educator for the past 34 years but spent 19 of them at Buckeye Local, serving as the high school principal in 2004 and later becoming district director of transportation and student services. He held those titles from 2011-2017, after which he was named an assistant superintendent. Celestin served as superintendent since December of 2020 and his tenure was extended through the current school year in a non-contractual agreement with the school board as they sought a permanent replacement. With former Buckeye Local High School Principal Coy Sudvary named as successor, Celestin will pass the reins come August.
  “Mr. Sudvary is a very able, smart man that can handle this,” he said. “We’ll work together this summer during the transition, but I know he’ll continue to do great things for the district.”
  Sudvary recalled working for Celestin as a teacher and then as assistant principal before succeeding him as BLHS principal. He praised Celestin’s capabilities and said he did an amazing job for the district.
  “He’s always been great to work with. He was always willing to help and give advice and he was beneficial to me with my career,” Sudvary commented. “He’s done everything that’s been asked of him by the district and has always been there for the kids and staff.”
  Celestin has seen many changes during his time from staffing to building upgrades but said the students have made his experience incredible.
  “The highlights are always going to be the students. I meet kids who amaze me with their compassion when they’ve raised money to help others and helped the special needs kids at our annual Olympics,” he added. “The students at Buckeye Local are nice young men and women, and everywhere they go they inspire people.”
  Celestin said he was fortunate to work with many great people both inside and outside the schools.
  “We have an amazing staff and it’s a great community. I’ve enjoyed seeing the facilities upgraded and giving principals the ability to think outside the box to come up with grants and ways to update the buildings. I’ve worked with the school board, administrators, staff and community to make the facilities enjoyable for the students to give them a sense of pride.”
  Celestin thanked the school board for the opportunity and board President Ashley West responded in kind. Speaking on behalf of the panel, she said he was a tremendous asset to the district and wished him well.
   “The board appreciates working with him and he’s always been willing to step up when he’s needed. We appreciate all of the roles he’s done through the years and express our gratitude,” West said. “We wish him the best.”
  “I made a lot of memories and experiences,” Celestin concluded. “Like John Wayne, I want to ride off into the sunset.”

(Photo Cutline: Scott Celestin will mark his final day as superintendent at Buckeye Local School District on July 31 but looks back fondly on nearly two decades with the school district, saying his time with the people has made it all memorable. He will be succeeded by Coy Sudvary in August.)
BLJHS Explores Energy Opportunities with MOLU
Posted 5/21/2023 at 6:11:11 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local Jr. High School students explored opportunities and careers with a visit from the Mobile Oilfield Learning Unit on May 10.
  About 200 students in grades 5-8 took part and teamed up in pairs to complete interactive lessons. The MOLU, which is sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute and Energy Education Foundation, is a traveling exhibit designed to teach middle-school students about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and expose them to an array of careers offered in the energy industry through educational activities. It contains six mobile units with a total of 24 activities and students rotate around each unit to complete the lessons in timed sessions. Topics include safety, engineering, the oil industry, microorganisms, seismology, robotics and more and students learned about everything from fractional distillation to petroleum products.
  According to the MOLU website, students are tested to establish baseline knowledge before interacting with the stations, and then they complete a “post-test” to determine what they have learned. On average, student scores improve by 50 percent following the lessons. The program became popular in Texas and Louisiana, inspiring energy firms Cabot, Shell, Schlumberger, Southwestern Energy and Williams to fund the creation of a new unit that is now based in the Appalachian Basin and serves Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
  “This program is new to Ohio,” said BLJHS Principal Jason Kovalski. “We held four, 80-minute sessions and there were groups of students who worked in pairs and moved through four parts of each station.”
   The students received booklets corresponding with the activities to help them learn about the products created and how the process works.
   Ben Marter, vice president of communications and public affairs for API, said the organization partnered with the Energy Education Fund to bring the exhibit to school districts and the program was created to teach middle school students about STEM and the many careers available in the industry.
    “This has been around for a few years but this is a new partnership between API and the Energy Education Foundation with a goal of educating 10,000 in the 2023 calendar year,” Marter added. “[The program has visited] 16 different school districts and 26 total visits in several states. We’ve had 2,760 students, 315 adults or teachers and volunteers interact with the MOLU so far.” 

   He said students have enjoyed engaging with the MOLU and completed a pre-exhibit survey before touring the MOLU, and in turn have improved their understanding of the industry by 24 percent. The MOLU will make stops throughout Ohio for the remainder of the school year.

 (Photo Cutline: About 200 seventh-and eighth-graders at Buckeye Local Jr. High School participated in the Mobile Oilfield Learning Unit which visited May 10. The traveling exhibit is sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute and Energy Education Foundation and introduces students in grades 5-8 to STEM activities and available careers in the energy industry in a series of six stations. Pictured are eighth-graders Derek Porter and Brandon Keller working in tandem at one of the stations.)
Buckeye Local Kids Go to Camp
Posted 5/12/2023 at 9:43:55 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Camp Muskingum
Sixth-grade students from Buckeye West, North and South Elementary Schools headed to Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum in Carrollton on May 5 to learn all about the great outdoors in fun and interactive sessions. Among the activities were lessons on nature, building fires and shelters and recycling and composting plus archery, fishing and games. Pictured are West students Brody Bikoski, left, and Mac Boroski during a session.
Buckeye Local Kids Go to Camp
Posted 5/12/2023 at 9:43:54 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Camp Muskingum
Sixth-grade students from Buckeye West, North and South Elementary Schools headed to Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum in Carrollton on May 5 to learn all about the great outdoors in fun and interactive sessions. Among the activities were lessons on nature, building fires and shelters and recycling and composting plus archery, fishing and games. Pictured are West students Brody Bikoski, left, and Mac Boroski during a session.
BLHS Looks to Boost Math Scores with Project Ignite
Posted 5/12/2023 at 9:39:28 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
 CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local High School is looking to improve students’ math scores through the Project Ignite initiative.
  Principal Luke Parsons said the school is partnering with Battelle for Kids and the Ohio Department of Education for Project Ignite, an alliance of schools for innovation, and the goal is to implement strategies designed to bolster students’ end-of-course exam scores. The district received a three-year grant through the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund, making the program free to the high school.
   Parsons said the school has worked to improve its low math scores and being involved in the program will help officials fulfill their plan.
  “Battelle joined with ODE to offer trainings for schools on focus to achieve the goals they are setting. It will give us access to resources, communication and support so we can work to get students’ math scores up,” Parsons said. “Our goal is to raise math proficiency scores. Our test scores are very low and we’ve been working to raise them over the past several years.”
  He said the prospect came to light following a discussion with incoming Buckeye Local Schools Superintendent Coy Sudvary, who currently acts as principal at Wellsville High School.
  “Coy and I were talking and he said Wellsville did this,” Parsons added, saying a zoom meeting followed and BLHS signed on with the program. “It’s a great thing because it will provide what we need. Project Ignite will help us with our goals and will give coaching and professional development.”
  Parsons recently met with officials in a Zoom session while he and several math teachers will undergo training during the summer.
  “We discussed our school, community, students and teachers, and we dug into what needs changed and what direction we would like to head. We gave them information on our goals and they will create a plan for us that we will implement,” Parsons noted. “The next step is another meeting to go over the plan and see what we like and what might need to be revised. The process was easy and informative and I am really looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”
     The plan could be completed by the end of the month with implementation over the next school year.
Teams Show Skills at Sea Air & Land Challenge
Posted 5/2/2023 at 10:35:25 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLHS Sea Air & Land Challenge
CONNORVILLE-Teams from Ohio and West Virginia put their STEM knowledge to use during the sixth-annual Sea Air & Land Challenge at Buckeye Local High School on April 28.
   The event was sponsored by the Penn State University Electro-Optics Center (EOC) and drew teams from BLHS, Martins Ferry, Wheeling Central Catholic and Mount Vernon to compete in a series of water-, air- and land-based obstacles. Activities were held in both school gyms and outdoors and students operated remote-controlled robots they designed and had to complete timed tasks under the watchful eye of judges. At the conclusion, trophies were dispersed and BLHS Sea Team 6 won the sea challenge, the Martins Ferry Purple Knights led the air challenge and earned the Innovation Award and Wheeling Central Dinoco team won the land contest.
  Jeff Merrill, a BLHS math teacher who helped create the school’s STEM program, organized the competition and praised the teams for their hard work and ingenuity.
  “A lot of the scores were really close,” Merrill said. “The kids did an amazing job and it was great to see them working together.”
  Susan Zingaro, coordinator of workforce development for the Penn State Applied Research Center, congratulated the teams on all they accomplished and said the event also helped determine if STEM careers were in their future.
  “One of the goals is to give you the opportunity to see what it’s like to do an engineering project, if you want to go into engineering and if you want to go into STEM,” Zingaro said. “The second goal is to let you know about the tremendous amount of opportunities in the Department of Defense.”
  She noted that the Sea Air & Land Challenge was sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), an agency of more than 6,000 people across the world who assist the U.S. Department of Defense.
  “It is to deter, prevent and prevail and they want to recruit a lot of smart minds and sponsor events for students. They have military and civilian members working in the agency and help allies understand what’s a potential threat for the country.”
  Zingaro said many fields were available in the DTRA, from engineering and organizing to linguistics and coding software, while an outreach program was offered for thinkers who understand technology. She also cited internships, scholarships and other opportunities that were available. The Sea Air & Land Challenge was first created at the EOC, but Buckeye Local was invited to participate and school officials began their own event in 2018, attracting 100 students from throughout the Tri-State Area.

(Photo Caption: The Buckeye Local High School Sea Team 6 earned honors during the Sea Air & Land Challenge at the school on April 28. Teams from Ohio and West Virginia took part in a series of robotic challenges under the watchful eye of judges and officials said scores were very close. Pictured are Sea Team 6 member Dayne Carter in the foreground with the tether while Jacob Gonze uses a monitor to operate a remote control in the back. Also pictured are teammates Garrett Devore, Paige Martin and Cori Griffith as well as Susan Zingaro of the Penn State University Applied Research Center looking on.)
Sea Air & Land Challenge Set at BLHS
Posted 4/17/2023 at 12:45:41 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-STEM students will put their skills on display during the sixth-annual Sea Air and Land Challenge at Buckeye Local High School.
   The event, which is sponsored by Penn State University’s Electro-Optics Center (EOC), is set for April 28 from 8:30 a.m. to about 2 p.m. and includes a featured speaker in the auditorium followed by a series of challenges, lunch and an awards ceremony. Organizer Jeff Merrill, a BLHS math teacher who also helped establish the school’s STEM program, said activities will be held in both school gyms and outside in the athletic wing parking lot.
  Participating teams include local high schools from Buckeye Local, Martins Ferry and Wheeling Central as well as Bedford High School from Michigan and Mt. Vernon High School as the newest entrant.
   “Five teams are attending,” Merrill added. “There will be sea, air and land challenges with the same competition as last year. The courses are similar with a few new twists for competitors.”
  Teams compete by operating remote-controlled robots they designed and must finish timed tasks on land, under water and by air with experts judging the activities. The teams will break for lunch at 11 a.m. with more challenges resuming at 11:45 a.m. Surveys and a wrap-up of events are scheduled for 1 p.m. with trophies to be dispersed around 1:30 p.m.
  Now in its sixth year, the challenge was first created at the EOC but Buckeye Local was invited to participate, then BLHS officials opted to begin their own event in 2018 and attracted 100 students from throughout the Tri-State Area.
  According to the EOC, the Sea Air and Land Challenge is an Office of Naval Research-sponsored program in which teams of high school-aged students learn about the engineering process through the design and build of a robotic system.  The systems are then used to compete in challenges relevant to the Department of Defense which mimic missions encountered by the military, national security agencies and first responders. The challenge provides the opportunity for high school students to tackle a difficult engineering task while working with educators and engineering mentors. The teams have 12 to 16 weeks (one semester) to design and build unmanned vehicles and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) payloads to compete in the challenge of their choice. Teams may build submersibles for the sea challenge, drones for the air challenge or rovers for the land challenge. The challenges are designed by engineers at the Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory and by some of the country’s finest Navy SEALs and Green Berets. Officials noted that STEM was a growing job field and the military plays a vital role through national security. It also introduces students to career opportunities and helps educators implement a successful program in their school districts.
Buckeye Local Staff Schooled on Preparedness
Posted 3/31/2023 at 11:25:41 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Incident Training
CONNORVILLE-In the days following the tragic shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, staff members at Buckeye Local Schools are doing what they can to prepare for an active situation.
  The district closed schools while an estimated 193 administrators, teachers and other personnel gathered at Buckeye Local High School on Wednesday for professional development and certification which encompassed Stop The Bleed, AED and ALICE training. The timing of the training was coincidental, given the shooting in Tennessee. Leaders actually planned after Buckeye Local received $500,000 in state K-12 School Safety Grant Program funding to add security film, updated cameras and other measures to protect the district’s estimated 1,450 students and 250 employees.
  The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and WVU Medicine/Wheeling Hospital were involved in the professional development sessions and school leaders said it was another way to ensure the buildings were secure. Sheriff Fred Abdalla Jr., with help from sheriff’s officials, led a brief PowerPoint presentation in the theater with a series of scenarios during the ALICE training. He said he spoke with school leaders about the importance of being proactive.
  “We discussed what we could do with what we’ve got. We know down here in this district that the buildings are remote,” he added, saying training was an effective way to know how to respond in a dangerous situation. 
   He outlined the basis for ALICE, and said the purpose was to empower the staff with knowledge whether they could safely evacuate or lockdown, barricade and fight. He outlined Cooper Color Code of Awareness, which includes white, yellow, orange, red and black to denote levels of awareness. White signifies one who is oblivious to their environment; yellow is one who is relaxed and alert; orange is someone who is prepared to take action; red is one who responds to a dangerous situation; and black is someone who is stressed and not prepared. 
  Sheriff Abdalla explained the different parts of ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, from alerting people to an active intruder and locking down the facility to properly informing in real time, countering the attacker with barricades, distractions and fighting back and evacuating the premises, if possible. He said one goal is to visit elementary students and teach them the ALICE technique at a level they can understand. Following more discussion, the staff was divided into groups of 10 people based upon their schools and sent to assigned classrooms for the scenarios. Sheriff’s officials and Buckeye Local School Resource Officer Deputy Rodney Roe attempted to access barricaded rooms while others managed to flee the building. In the end, leaders praised everyone for their efforts and said more training would be offered. The sheriff was joined by representatives of Special Tactics and Rescue Training (S.T.A.R.T.) of Mingo Junction and the Ohio School Safety Center Zone III and closed with a question-and-answer session. 
  Wheeling Hospital officials led a Stop The Bleed presentation as American Heart Association Coordinator Kelly Matusik schooled participants on the “ABC’s of bleeding”—alert, bleeding and compression. Matusik said those on hand could contact 911, assess the bleeding and compress the wounds with pressure, packing or tourniquets. She said various tourniquet models were available but bandanas, T-shirts and belts would also work, adding that it may not save someone’s limb but it could ultimately save a life. She also provided tips about dressing wounds at key points on the arms, legs, armpits, neck, groin and body and said tourniquets should be placed two to three inches above the wound and tightly bound to reduce bleeding. Officials noted that the only thing more tragic than a death is one that could have been prevented.
  “Make sure of your personal safety first, then survey the scene, call 911, find the bleeding, compress the wound and wait for help,” Matusik added. “Remember, this is someone’s life you are trying to save.”
  Hands-on training followed in the Panther Gym, where school staff practiced using tourniquets and packing wounds on each other and faux limbs.
  District Nurse Mary Kay Mayle also discussed the new Lifepak CR2 AED equipment available in the district. Schools are still utilizing some of the older versions, but the newer devices have been converted to Wifi and can be used on children ages 1 and over as well as adults. An automated voice guides users and also alerts officials if a device is being utilized or has mechanical problems. So far, there are eight units in the district and officials are eyeing more.
  “We received these before Christmas and need to train the staff,” she added. “We would like to have two in each elementary building.” 
  In addition to Wednesday’s events, Buckeye Local leaders also underwent Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG) training with representatives of the Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center. It was held March 23 with 20 district administrators, principals, teachers, nurses and the school resource officer learning to identify transient and serious threats and courses of action. Leaders said the upgrades and sessions were all measures for safer schools.
  District Maintenance Director Tony Panepucci, who has assisted with school safety plans through his expertise as Mount Pleasant Fire Chief, said another drill was eyed with school staff prior to the start of the new school term, while another full-scale scenario may be done with the students.
  “Right now, we’re getting the staff to learn what to do prior to the students being here. Once they have that under their belt, we’re probably going to get the students involved,” he commented. “Hopefully, we can incorporate fire and EMS personnel because they would be heavily involved if something happened. Everybody needs to be on the same page.”
  Superintendent Scott Celestin said it was all part of the district’s mission to be proactive.
  “It’s one more measure to keep students and staff at Buckeye Local safe,” Celestin said. “I don’t know if we can ever prevent something from happening, but we can try the best we can. We’ll address it more in the future and find ways to make it safer.”
(Photo Caption: Capt. Tommy Koehnlein, school building safety coordinator for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and Buckeye Local High School Resource Officer Rodney Roe review a barricaded classroom during an ALICE training at BLHS on Wednesday. About 193 school staff members also took part in Stop the Bleed and AED sessions as an added measure of safety for their schools, while training was planned before this week’s tragic shooting in Nashville.)
Buckeye Local Benefits from $1M in Energy Royalties
Posted 3/30/2023 at 12:40:21 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
DILLONVALE-Buckeye Local Schools are reaping the benefits of a recent $1 million windfall in oil and gas royalties with plans to improve district buildings and education over the next school year.
  Officials received a check totaling $1,008,572 from Gulfport Energy this past month, which is the first one Buckeye Local has received since the energy company began drilling on district-owned property, and the revenue is based upon production from September through December of 2022. Board members recently met with their attorney, Lawrence Piergallini, about the funding and also discussed ideas for projects to better serve staff and students. Among impending plans are a $200,000 upgrade of the sewer plant at Buckeye Local High School and the purchase of a new elementary English/Language Arts (ELA) curriculum for an estimated $383,000, but the overall goal is to maintain sustainability by improving cost efficiency.
  “I’m thrilled Buckeye Local can get some projects done and not spend general fund money,” said Superintendent Scott Celestin.
  Leaders agreed that the amount was not a regular occurrence, but the royalties were added to the district’s permanent improvement fund for upgrades and other educational needs. District Treasurer Merri Matthews was excited by the news and said the royalties are among the latest the district received following a payment from Ascent Resources. She continued that Ascent royalties yielded a total of $279,000 for district coffers from July 1 to this past February and leaders will review necessary improvements at each school building.
 “This funding is not always guaranteed, so we will save it for more permanent projects,” Matthews added. “Gas and oil royalties have gone up and our plan is to prioritize the needs of the district. We’ve asked each building to give us a wish list and we’ll take care of what we can.”
  A number of projects are coming down the pipeline at BLHS with existing funds, including an upgrade of the HVAC unit and restrooms, replacement of the pyramid roof above the commons area as well as the sewer plant update. The dome has already been replaced at the building while the parking lot and exterior lights have breen improved. Additionally, the district office upgraded its heating and air conditioning equipment. 
  “We did purchase a new dump truck, pickup truck and van for the maintenance fleet this year,” Matthews added, saying a mixture of federal money, general funds, gas and oil revenue and permanent improvement funds were being used in the projects.
  Maintenance Director Tony Panepucci noted that the largest endeavor would be upgrading the sewer plant, which is original to the high school.          
  “There have been significant upgrades to the sewer plant, and this actually makes it more functional to the current population at the school,” Panepucci said. “We’re essentially creating two plants that could run back and forth or switch over if maintenance is needed. The sewer plant is unique to the district because we are the only one that has it. This improvement will help a lot in the long run.”
  He added that the commons roof project would also quell issues in the future.
  “It’s a new roof and the original was 32 years old. We’ve had a few leaks, so that work will help out tremendously to prevent further damage.”
  Panepucci continued that other buildings could also be seeing updates on the horizon.
  “There are things on everybody’s wish list,” he commented. “It’s going to be a busy summer districtwide.”
  Also on the list is the purchase of a new ELA curriculum for grades K-5. The move will cost $383,000 and adds some new learning tools for the first time since 2011. District Director of Special Education, Preschool and Student Services Julie Packer said a committee of educators selected the curriculum with input from elementary staff and is also looking at more resources for the junior high and high schools.
 “There was a committee formed and we looked at five different companies. We circulated the material through the five buildings and looked at two choices,” she said, adding that a version from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was selected. “We will be purchasing new materials for all the other schools in grades 6-12.”
  Packer continued that the sixth-grade will utilize similar material as the elementary schools while officials are reviewing supplemental English and grammar resources for grades 7-8 and ELA items for grades 9-12, and the latter will be taken to the school board for approval. She noted that officials will update materials in a six-year cycle.
  “We’re starting a rotation for curriculum each year,” she said. “We will look at each core department and make the necessary upgrades we can do at the time.”
  Meanwhile, incoming Superintendent Coy Sudvary said the district will be positively impacted well into the foreseeable future.
  “We’re very grateful to receive the funds. It will give us the flexibility to assist in upgrading the curriculum and facilities,” Sudvary said. “We’re going to be patient and look at the needs of the district to make sure we’re efficiently spending the funds. This is a major opportunity for the district to continue moving forward.”
Buckeye Local Granted More Security Funds
Posted 3/8/2023 at 10:02:23 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
DILLONVALE-More security funding has come to Buckeye Local Schools to add further protection to its facilities.
   Julie Packer, district director of special education, preschool and student services, said another $300,000 was approved in Ohio K-12 School Safety Grants through the Ohio Facilities Construction, bringing the district’s overall allocation to a half-million dollars. The grants are part of a $100 million competitive program and will be expended in 57 counties for security cameras, public address systems, visitor badging systems, automatic door locks and exterior lighting.
   Packer said she and district Treasurer Merri Matthews were notified in February that the district benefitted from the latest funding round and now Buckeye North Elementary in Brilliant, Buckeye West Elementary in Adena, Buckeye South Elementary in Tiltonsville and Buckeye Local Jr./Sr. High School in Connorville have all received allocations.
   “They went back and reallocated funding and all four schools received grants. We will get reflective film at the junior high and high school building and spirit wrap and reflective film at the elementary schools. We also need to do more fencing at South and West. We have a lot to talk about on where to spend the money.”
  The district initially sought the total amount of $500,000 but received $200,000 late last year to update North and West Elementary with upgraded cameras, new communication equipment and window coverings. She noted that some work had previously taken place and the grants are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, for an approved list of items. Reflective film was since added to the first floor of both schools over the holiday break with more coverings being added on the upper levels. North was also eyed for safety training and traffic-related signage in addition to the fencing for the playground at West. 
  “West and North should be finished by the end of the school year,” she commented. “We will try to get the other schools done throughout the summer and we hope to have them done by August.”
  High Tech Security of Colerain was contracted to install the cameras on the interior and exterior of the buildings. Packer said the two schools currently have outdated analog cameras which will be updated to more modern Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) versions and can hold up to 30 days of recordings. Exterior doors had also been rekeyed and leaders were looking at replacing doors and adding to-go buckets for emergencies as well as continued training and possible vape sensors at the junior high.
  Packer collaborated with Superintendent Scott Celestin and Maintenance Director Tony Panepucci on the grant with help from Bill Petrozzi, a substitute teacher with security experience who assessed the buildings. 
  Meanwhile, Celestin was grateful for the allocation and said it will bring another layer of safety to the school buildings.
  “Getting the second round of funding gives us an opportunity to do updates that will make the buildings safer for the students,” he said. “We can do more with that extra funding.”
   He noted that more sessions were in the works for Stop the Bleed, Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) and ALICE training and will most likely occur later this month, plus more safety drills may be planned for students. Celestin is working with Panepucci, who also serves as the Mount Pleasant fire chief, to address the district’s safety.
   “It’s encouraging to have someone with the expertise, knowledge and contacts with first responders,” he said. “We can host EMS trainings and possibly the sheriff’s office to familiarize them with the buildings.”
Elementary Schools Mark Right to Read Week
Posted 2/27/2023 at 2:13:35 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL South Right to Read
TILTONSVILLE-Buckeye Local Schools’ elementary buildings are ramping up some book-based fun as they mark Right to Read Week on Feb. 27-March 3.
  Buckeye South, Buckeye West and Buckeye North Elementary will hold fun learning events including literacy night with themed activities and Scholastic Book Fairs to sell literature and other merchandise.
  South Elementary is offering some baseball-based fun with dress-up days, which kicked off with comfy clothes for “Prepare for the Game” on Monday; wearing favorite team attire for “Team Pride Day” on Tuesday; donning their favorite toppers for “Hat’s Off to Reading” on Wednesday; wearing black and gold for “Home Run Day” on Thursday; and going patriotic in red, white and blue for “Baseball is America’s Game” on Friday. 
  The school will also host its annual literacy night on March 2 from 5-7 p.m. This year’s theme is “Take Me Out to the Ballgame—Reading is a Home Run” and organizers said there will be plenty for students and their families to do.
  “This will be a very special event,” said Jenny Potts, a kindergarten teacher and organizer. “We will kick off our reading program and if kids read for 1,000 minutes, which is 20 minutes a day for two months, they will earn free tickets to watch a Washington Wild Things game.”
  In addition to activities, Potts said a special guest will also attend to generate some excitement about reading and there will be raffles with chances for kids to win books. The community is also invited to attend and there will be appearances by local softball and high school baseball athletes.
  “It’s a party to share that reading and learning can be fun,” Potts continued. “Our ultimate goal is to give kids a book vending machine.”
  West Elementary in Adena is still planning activities for its weeklong celebration which is slated for March 13-17. Principal Brian DiCola said the school will follow a similar theme based on South’s use of America’s favorite pastime and a literacy night event was set for March 16 from 5:30-7 p.m.
   “We will have a book fair all week and there will be literacy and other activities throughout the week,” he commented.
  North Elementary Principal Susan Nolan said her school will highlight Right to Read and Read Across America with a spirit week centering on Dr. Seuss tomes. Monday featured “The Cat in the Hat” with kids donning fun caps; Tuesday includes “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by dressing in future career or college attire; Wednesday is “Wacky Wednesday” and features silly clothes that may also be mismatched or worn backwards, followed by literacy night from 5-7 p.m.; Thursday includes “Fox in Socks” with a silly sock day; and Friday concludes with “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” where kids in red or blue and show their Panther pride. 

(Photo Cutline: Buckeye South Elementary kindergarteners Ashley Beranek and Kenna McCabe get their reading on as schools in the Buckeye Local School District prepare to mark Right to Read Week on Feb. 27-March 3. Events are set in each elementary school including literacy night and book-based fun.)
BLHS Students Learn to Stop The Bleed
Posted 2/23/2023 at 8:49:09 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLHS Stop the Bleed
CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local High School students learned the ABC’s of lifesaving during a Stop The Bleed session on Tuesday.
  About 350-400 students in grades 9-12 took part in the event led by WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital. Dr. Jim Comerci helmed a 30-minute presentation in the theatre with hands-on training in the Panther Gym along with hospital personnel and the Yorkville, Dillonvale and Mount Pleasant E-Squads. Officials instructed teens on proper treatment of wounds with compression through packing and tourniquets and Comerci said people should know basic skills to help save a life.
  “Why we are bringing this to you as school students...is because there is a difference between first responders such as fire departments, EMT’s and police and what we call ‘immediate responders,’” he said. “You are the first ones on the scene and often it’s the immediate responder who can save lives.”
  Students learned the literal ABC’s of response—alerting 911, bleeding detection and compression. Quick action could make a significant difference by calling 911 to share details of what happened and what help is needed; locating wounds; and applying pressure, packing them with gauze or clothing and/or using tourniquets. Sites include arms and legs, the neck, armpits and groin and the body while compression should continue until first responders arrive. Comerci said immediate responders should ensure their own safety first and move the victim if they can, then they should wear protective gloves while rendering aid. If they do expose themselves to blood, they should inform first responders and follow directions to clean up. He also cited common mistakes such as not using tourniquets right away or tying them tightly.
   Among the tips were to place tourniquets two to three inches above a wound but not on knees or elbows while children under age 8 should only have basic compression and packing. Comerci said larger impaled object should remain in place since they could control the bleed and students should also write the time compression was added on the person so medical personnel could treat them accordingly.
  “A lot of things we talk about come from services taught to soldiers on the field,” he added. “The No. 1 cause of preventable death in mass shootings, car accidents and industrial and farm accidents is bleeding. We can save a lot of lives if we can control the bleeding. Even if you don’t think you can do it, make sure you know the skills so you can tell someone else what to do. Learn how to do this because when something happens, it happens quickly.”
   Comerci concluded by stressing the need for help in the healthcare field. He said opportunities were available for ages 15 and up to become volunteers and those 18 and older could obtain entry-level jobs as nursing aides and assistants which could lead to great careers.
   BLHS Principal Luke Parsons said the goal was to share knowledge so the youth would know how to respond.
   “I think everything went very well. The students were engaged and this will enable them to help one another should the time come, but I hope it never does.”
   Parsons said another Stop the Bleed training session was set for teachers next month.
   Stop the Bleed, which is administered by The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma, is a worldwide effort to improve care of injured patients in society and raise awareness of basic actions to stop life-threatening bleeding following everyday emergencies and man-made and natural disasters. More information is available at www.stopthebleed.org.
(Photo Cutline: Dr. Jim Comerci of WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital demonstrates how to pack a wound as seniors Courtney Cominsky, James Siburt and Julia Orban look on during a Stop The Bleed training session at Buckeye Local High School on Tuesday. About 350-400 students in grades 9-12 learned how to help others as immediate responders during emergencies and also assisting were members of the Yorkville, Dillonvale and Mount Pleasant E-Squads.)
Students, Teachers Learning to STOP THE BLEED
Posted 2/22/2023 at 2:13:23 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local High School students and teachers are getting a lesson in lifesaving with a special STOP THE BLEED training session this Tuesday.
  Officials with WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital will conduct the session beginning at 9 a.m. in the school theatre. BLHS Principal Luke Parsons said medical personnel will speak to faculty and pupils in grades 9-12 and provide a video before hands-on training gets underway in the Panther gym. 
  STOP THE BLEED is a worldwide effort to help severely injured people with an estimated 2.4 million people taking part in sessions. The program is administered by The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma and is an effort to improve care of injured patients in society. According to the STOP THE BLEED website, its purpose is to better prepare the public to save lives by raising awareness of basic actions to stop life-threatening bleeding following everyday emergencies and man-made and natural disasters.
  District staff members underwent a similar course in the past but Parsons said this time students can get educated.
   “This is just another way that students can help,” he added, saying about 350-400 teens are expected to get a lesson in rendering First Aid.
   He said the program came to fruition after a hospital official contacted school counselor Krista Kinyo.
   “[Kinyo] thought it was a great idea and we talked about it, then we thought it would be something great for the students,” Parsons continued. “We are looking for a future date to do CPR training for students. We’re just trying to give as much training to them as we can to better their lives and better the school.”
Outdoor Recreation Project in Bright’s Honor
Posted 2/10/2023 at 9:51:59 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLJHS Outdoor Honor Bright
  CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local Jr. High School is adding a new outdoor recreational area as a lasting tribute to a longtime educator and coach who was dedicated to serving youth.
  Principal Jason Kovalski said the Brightway Foundation contributed $60,000 for the project, which should be completed this summer at the southeast end of the building. It will feature a basketball court, pavilion, picnic tables and benches and will provide respite and recreation for students. Zeroski Excavating of Adena will oversee the concrete and basketball hoop installation, Valley City Supply of Valley City, Ohio, is in charge of the pavilion with tables and benches being constructed by the carpentry program at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School in Bloomingdale. Additionally, Erb Electric of Bridgeport will install a digital sign on the front of the school building.
  Kovalski said the funding was given last year before the organization was reformed as the Kara Bright Foundation, and Bright was a former Buckeye Local teacher and coach who made his mark helping kids through the Brightway Center in Smithfield.
  “Through a donation from the Brightway Foundation, the junior high is building an outdoor recreation area four our students in memory of Kara Bright. I’m also securing funding [from the foundation] for a digital billboard to go on the front of Buckeye Local Jr./Sr. High School,” he added. “The project will begin in April and everything should be completed by the end of June.”
  Kovalski recalled Bright, who was known as “Cobby,” as someone who inspired students and everyone around him.
  “He was my physical education and health teacher at Buckeye Central Jr. High in Dillonvale in the 1980s and a family friend. He initially got me involved with Brightway Center when it was being created,” he said. “[Bright] was always about helping youth in the area. He was a teacher and coach kids would go and talk to about life’s challenges and offered inspirational words.”
  Bright, a 1945 graduate of Smithfield High School, taught and coached within the Buckeye Local School system in addition to Virginia and North Carolina. He also founded the Ohio Fellowship of Christian Athletes and served as Ohio Sports World director for Sports World Ministry, but his largest contribution to the community was the conversion of his 180-acre Smithfield farm into the Brightway Center in 1997. It served as a Christian retreat and activity center and offered opportunities for both youth and families. The organization carried on Bright’s mission following his death in 2005 and continued to support youth for a quarter century. The Smithfield property was sold in 2021 and the Brightway Foundation dissolved last year, but the Kara Bright Foundation was developed to maintain his legacy.
  Bright is also being recognized through the formation of the Kara Bright Court that gets underway this June in the senior high school’s Panther gymnasium. That facility will receive fresh paint, a new basketball court and mural by the Barn Artist in an $80,000 project which was financed through the Kara Bright Foundation with extra funding from the high school’s PRIDE campaign.
  Talks began following a fortuitous meeting between former district teacher Jodee Vohevec and Brightway Foundation Treasurer George Spack and eventually developed into the impending updates, and Kovalski lauded Verhovec for initiating discussions and the board for supporting the plans. The court project is one way to honor Bright and Kovalski said the outdoor area at BLJHS will do the same.
  “Through his memory, I’d like to continue to be there for students in need and inspire them when they are struggling,” he added. “Although he’s been gone for several years, I’d like for his memory to be alive for generations to come.”
   A dedication ceremony will be held to formally open the site.

(Photo Cutline: Kara Bright, pictured with an athlete in this dated photo, was a longtime educator and coach who served Buckeye Local Schools and later developed the Brightway Center on his Smithfield farm. His legacy will live on with updates at Buckeye Local Jr./Sr. High School, the newest being an outdoor recreation area near the junior high building. The Brightway Foundation is providing $60,000 for the project as well as a digital billboard and work should be completed this summer.)
P.A.W. Workshops Available at BLHS
Posted 2/7/2023 at 3:37:38 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-Students have more opportunities to achieve their academic goals with the implementation of a new program.
  Buckeye Local High School offers the Panther Academic Workshop, or P.A.W., two days a week from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Students who need assistance to pass their end-of-course (EOC) exams are asked to attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays and three sessions are being conducted this school year. The first session was held from October through December and focused on Algebra I skills and objectives while the second portion is centered on ACT Prep and is currently underway through Feb. 23. The final workshop is geared towards spring EOC’s and runs from March 14-April 20. 
  “We are using IXL (a curriculum for personalized learning), which was through a grant from the Jefferson County Educational Service Center,” said Principal Lucas Parsons. “They meet in the media center and break down into four groups: science, mathematics, English/Language Arts (ELA) and special education.”
  Teachers Amy Basinger, Casey Maxon, Stephanie Crust and Miranda Glasgow assist with the workshops and about 22 students are involved. Parsons said the workshops were developed this year to help bolster learning and achieve better scores.
  “[The first session] was a way to achieve academic goals and improve their math scores,” he added. “We decided with the ACT coming up in March that our second session should focus on ACT Prep. The third session will be a refresher for our end-of-course exams in the spring.”
BL Showing Pride with New Signage
Posted 2/6/2023 at 3:31:25 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Pride Campaign
  CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local High School is showing its pride with a brand-new sign on the building.
  The lighted signage features the school’s initials and Panther logo and was part of an ongoing fund-raising campaign to improve and beautify the grounds. Principal Lucas Parsons said roughly $20,000 was raised for the endeavor and he was appreciative to those who supported the project.
   “This was the main item of the PRIDE campaign. It was to have a lighted sign on the school building and we were able to raise the money to do that,” Parsons said. “It’s been in production for the last few months and we’re really excited.”
  C.B. Orange Athletic Solutions of Pittsburgh was responsible for the sign’s installation. Funding also enabled officials to add new flags along the driveway to follow the theme while protective window film will also be installed, and Parsons said there will be more branding throughout the building.
  He initially contacted stakeholders via letter seeking support for the cause and donors have ranged from businesses and organizations to parents and BLHS alumni. Parsons noted the site received a much-needed facelift and follows other improvements made by the district, including a new HVAC system, exterior lighting, tree removal and trimming, improved drainage and fresh blacktop along Panther Drive and the school parking lot.
  School officials also updated the trophy case and made plans to transform the media center into a student lounge for students as part of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program. The idea was to tie it into the PBIS-related Class Cup program and each week winners could utilize the space during their flex period.
  Parsons said the overall goal is to bolster support of the school system.
  “We just want to bring pride back to Buckeye Local,” he said.
(Photo Caption: A brand-new lighted sign was installed at the Buckeye Local High School after funds were raised through an ongoing PRIDE campaign. Crews from C.B. Orange Athletic Solutions of Pittsburgh installed the sign and the moneymaker also defrayed costs for new flags on the campus drive, protective window film and branding throughout the building.)
BLHS Celebrates New Year at Culture Fair
Posted 1/30/2023 at 11:08:59 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLHS Culture Fair
CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local High School and community members celebrated New Year’s around the world during the 18th annual International Culture Fair on Jan. 25.
  The BLHS Foreign Language Club turned back the clock a bit to showcase global traditions with displays, music and dancing and a fundraising food tasting to benefit the student organization. Hundreds of people turned out for the event, which was themed “In the Midnight Hour,” and some even donned festive fashions for the occasion. They learned about nearly 40 countries from Argentina to Zimbabwe while children’s activities and a 50-50 raffle were also held in the school commons, followed by musical and dance performances and a Parade of Nations in the theatre. Additionally, live music was provided by accordionist Jason Garczyk. Admission was free but attendants could purchase tickets for 25 cents each for the food tasting and sample everything from Scottish shortbread to Swedish meatballs. 
  Bonnie Soos, who co-advises the club with Savana Granat, was amazed by the crowd and said it was possibly the largest in the event’s nearly two-decade history.
  “It’s unbelievable. I think this is the largest crowd in our 18 years,” Soos added. “I presented the idea [to do a New Year’s theme] and we took and it ran with it. The members select the country they want to represent and research their traditions and basic information such as geography and history. I’m amazed by how it’s turned out. We had people come [an hour early]...and it was wonderful.”
  The teens also prepared the food from their representative nation and some dressed in costume while others wore more formal attire to match the holiday theme. Soos said 36 countries were exhibited with the newest being Zimbabwe. 
  Among the countries exhibited were the United States by Elizabeth Stock, Melina Monogioudis and Brynn McKeever; Canada by Cai McKeever and Ava Zelek; Mexico by Lydia Boyd and Keira Panepucci; Cuba by Hana Summers and Maddie Zeroski; Jamaica by Allison Jarrell, Remy Badia and Braelyn Knox; The Bahamas by Noah Jock and Adam Blackwell; Puerto Rico by Nyja Short; Colombia by Madison Roset and Avah Williams; Argentina by Anne Vargo and Tatum Walker; Brazil by Hayleigh Carlier and McKenna Halicky; Ireland by McKenna Dutton, Riley Angel and Sierra Cominsky; Scotland by Carly Long and Kaydence Kinyo; United Kingdom by Sydney Snyder, Melissa Smith and Lena Anderson; Portugal by Robert Carpenter and Kylie Stewart; Spain by Haydn Boyce, Adison Muldrew and Alex McDiffitt; France by Emily McDiffitt and Abbey Berze; Switzerland by Autumn Wharton, Addyson Bonomo and Lizzie Bolock; Austria by Bella Russell and Sammi Westfall; Germany by Lexi Burress and Lexie Leach; Italy by Julia Orban and Arielle Orban; Romania by Savannah Bookman and Shayla Ralston; Serbia by Jesse Vitek and Josey Meddles; Norway by Alyssa Dailey and Koltn Roush; Sweden by Hailey Kovalski, Harmony Woodland and Addison Jones; the Czech Republic by Desiree Ruzek; Poland by Olivia Kovalski and Maddie Wilt; Ukraine by Hannah Langsdorf, Haley Langsdorf and Lyndsee Malechowski; Hungary by Allison Emfield and Madison Palmer; Greece by Addie Erwin, Emma McHugh and Kaitlynn Merkel; China by Pacey Hill, Cassie Burkhead and Jasmine Yohe; Thailand by Brooke Kovalski, Kylie Watt and Jack Newell; South Korea by Megan Burrier and Thomas Beranek; Japan by Sydnee Yanok, Abigail Meeker and Kierra Starcher; Zimbabwe by Austin Blake; and Australia by Andrew Devore.
  Sophomores Megan Burrier and Thomas Beranek added a personal touch to their South Korea exhibit: native Dongyeon “Jake” Kim, a family friend who provided his dog tags and jacket from his stint in the South Korean Army and was on hand to take queries from the public about his homeland. In addition, Burrier and Beranek had Korean Milkis, which is a type of sodapop, plus Squid Game cookies and Korean potatoes, as well as items tied to the Chinese New Year that all Asian countries celebrate. She said 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit.
   “I thought it was a cool country,” Burrier said. “On their actual traditional day, the women come out and sing traditional songs, hold hands and walk around town.”
  Seniors Carly Long and Kaydence Kinyo selected Scotland as their country, and Long said she had family ties since her grandmother hailed from the Highlands. Their display included photos, British currency, memorabilia and shortbread.
   “In Scotland, they call New Year’s ‘Hogmanay,’ and they take ashes from the fire and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ Robert Burns wrote the song and is from there,” Long commented.
  Freshmen Robert Carpenter and Kylie Stewart chose Portugal and provided biscuits and icing and rice pudding.
  “They have a superstition where they keep money in their pocket, wallet and shoes for New Year’s [for good luck],
 said Carpenter.
   Meanwhile, Soos was beyond thrilled with the efforts of the 112 club members, which she said was among the largest numbers to date.
   “I’m so proud of our members,” she said.
  All of the proceeds fund field trips and other cultural events and she noted that plans for the 2024 fair were already in the works.

(Photo Caption: Hundreds of people turned out to learn about New Year’s traditions around the world and sample native fare during the 18th annual International Culture Fair at Buckeye Local High School. About 40 countries were represented and events included displays, food tasting, music, dancing, children’s activities and more with proceeds benefiting the BLHS Foreign Language Club. Organizers said this was possibly the largest turnout to date and plans are already in the works for 2024.)
BL District Spelling Bee Winners
Posted 1/24/2023 at 9:49:40 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL District Spelling Bee
Twenty-five students competed in the Buckeye Local School District Spelling Bee on Jan. 18 at Buckeye Local High School. Cameron Knight of Buckeye West Elementary took first place after correctly spelling the word Leander, which is the name of a Greek youth and classical mythological figure and also means “lion man.” Knight is pictured, front from left, with Jonas Eddy of Buckeye Local Jr. High School, second; Janelle Cooper of South Elementary, third; Chyanne Crothers of North Elementary, fourth; and Brooke Patterson of BLJHS, fifth. Back: Kyle Beranek of South, sixth; Daizy Thompson of West, seventh; Ryder Tibbs of BLJHS, eighth. Emma Vitek of North, first alternate, and Jocelyn Matthews of West, second alternate. The Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee will be held at North Elementary on March 11 with students from local school districts, parochial and home schools competing to advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. on May 31.
QPR Training Back at Buckeye Local
Posted 1/22/2023 at 10:35:02 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-More training is underway for staff and students at Buckeye Local High School which could help save a life.
  For the third year, the school has partnered with Family Recovery Center of Steubenville to provide lessons in suicide prevention through the QPR Institute. Prevention Specialist Doug Murray will be on hand Jan. 25 at 10:30 a.m. and will address those who are interested in becoming gatekeepers to help others. QPR, which stands for Question Persuade Refer, helps identify people who may be experiencing suicidal ideations and shares tools to assist those in crisis. 
   BLHS Principal Luke Parsons said students can sign up to receive the training, which will help recognize signs and taking steps to help. 
   “[Murray] is probably our biggest community asset,” Parsons added. “We’ve trained students and teachers and I initially opened it up to seniors, but now it’s open to grades 9-12. Kids are going through a lot today, and the more people who keep an eye on that the better we are.”
  Murray, who is a certified QPR gatekeeper trainer, said students have shown interest in getting involved and the training is being held on a volunteer basis.
   “We will go over signs, symptoms, behavioral clues, situational clues and verbal clues that maybe someone at school, home or in the community could have, and this will give tools to recognize those signs and persuade and refer them to get help,” he added. “At the end of the day, they will get certificates as gatekeepers. Then they will split into groups and discuss how they would approach a scenario.”
   He said refresher courses are held every two to three years because statistics and outcomes change. According to figures, there were 13.8 suicides per 100,000 people and an average of 1,644 deaths in Ohio during 2020; however, that is a decrease over 2019, where the average was 15.5 per 100,000. 
   “With the pandemic, we thought the suicide rate would go up but it went down,” he noted. “Until then, the rates had increased since 2007. There were over 1,800 suicide deaths and it was the leading cause among 10- to 14-year-olds.”
   Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the state and 78 percent are male. Murray attributes the latter to a lack of mental health awareness for men.
  “In Ohio, about five people die every day,” he continued. “In the U.S., the number is 14.5 per 100,000 or 134 per day.”
   Murray said resources are available and people should take advantage.
   “I think one of the biggest things to live by is that it’s okay not to be okay and there is help out there.”
DARE Program Continues at Buckeye Local
Posted 1/21/2023 at 9:25:08 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL DARE Program Continues
DILLONVALE-Students at Buckeye Local Jr. High School are learning about good decision-making and the consequences of their actions as the DARE program continues within the district.
  Wells Township Police Chief Sean Norman is in his 18th year as DARE officer and has been speaking to eighth-graders at BLJHS as well as second-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classes at Buckeye North Elementary in Brilliant about good character habits since the beginning of the present term. The sixth and eighth grades have sessions all year while the lower grades already completed their 10-week programs. He visits North on Tuesdays and alternates his time at BLJHS between mornings and afternoons every Thursday.
  Chief Norman said while DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, the lessons he shares apply in many life situations.
  “It’s mistakenly thought of as an anti-drug program, but we want to arm students with knowledge and capabilities when it happens. It’s about making good decisions.”
  A recent session with the junior high students centered on feelings, particularly how to recognize and cope with them in real life.
  “It’s understanding unique feelings and if those feelings are valid, having to identify feelings and handle them,” he said. “I try to speak to kids on their level so they know that every single choice they make has a consequence.”
  Past lessons ranged from drugs and peer pressure to stranger danger and are age-appropriate according to the pupil, and the subjects become more intensive for the upper grades and reflect upon responding to pressure and making safe and responsible choices under the theme “Keeping It Real.” More recently, BLJHS students have addressed risk and assertiveness to ways of refusing, and he said there were many ways to say no. He said the program also instills positive interaction between youth and law enforcement, but his goal is that the students apply those valuable lessons in the long run.
  “I hope if they are asked at the end of the year what they have learned, they’d say, ‘I know that making choices has consequences.”
(Photo Caption: Wells Township Police Chief Sean Norman is in his 18th year as DARE officer for the Buckeye Local School District. He addresses students at Buckeye North Elementary and Buckeye Local Jr. High School about making good decisions not only to refuse drugs, but in situations throughout life. He is pictured here addressing eighth graders at BLJHS on the subject of identifying and dealing with feelings.)
West, Powell to Lead Buckeye Local BOE
Posted 1/17/2023 at 1:38:59 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
DILLONVALE-Ashley West and Clint Powell were tapped to lead the Buckeye Local Board of Education for 2023 and the panel had a full slate of topics to discuss at their recent session.
  The board conducted an organizational meeting where West and Powell were selected as leaders for the new year, but an array of issues dominated the subsequent regular session that ranged from school updates to safety. Officials approved an agreement with STAN and Associates to oversee the design and related construction administration services for an HVAC improvement project at Buckeye Local High School.
  Superintendent Scott Celestin said the firm, which is based in Dayton, will receive $204,000 for its services and the project should occur this year. The update is being financed through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding.
  “The air conditioning and heat at the high school hasn’t worked properly for some time,” he explained, adding the unit was about 30 years old. “Instead of constantly fixing and putting a Band-Aid on it, we received ESSER funds which were allowed to be used for this. It has to be done before 2024 but it will be put out to bid. I’d hope it would be done by the next school year.”
   Celestin said the school building has adequate heat and air conditioning now and it is constantly monitored.
   Meanwhile, security issues were discussed and Celestin said the monthly safety meeting was set for Jan. 17. Building improvements were underway and he is placing a focus back on safety with help from district Maintenance Supervisor Tony Panepucci, who serves as Mt. Pleasant Fire Chief.
   “Tony will help me with contacts and first responders and we’ll get back to running drills and making these schools as safe as possible for students and staff,” he added.
  Panepucci was also meeting with Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla Jr. to set up an ALICE training session and planned to address it with administrators. Celestin said he and Panepucci have spoken since Christmas and he offered to assist with safety.
  “I’m starting to tap into his expertise,” he added, saying it would be discussed further at that meeting. 
  Celestin continued that the district received praise from Sheriff Abdalla for taking action on improving security in schools.
   “We’re far above and beyond and Tony has the knowledge in safety, so we’ll get it moving quickly,” he added.
  Meanwhile, the district recently obtained a $200,000 Ohio K-12 School Safety Grant and?North Elementary in Brilliant and West Elementary in Adena will each receive protective window coverings, upgraded cameras and new communication equipment. The two schools currently have outdated analog cameras which will be updated to more modern Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) versions on the interior and exterior of the buildings. Celestin said work was on track while more plans were being eyed for South Elementary in Tiltonsville. 
  “The first-floor windows were tinted at North and West and their second and third floors will have Spirit Wrap similar to the high school. We’re trying to find finding to continue a similar project at South.”
  The board also discussed a staff survey to gauge thoughts on school safety, and while some area schools have either implemented or considered utilizing armed personnel Celestin said that plan is not under consideration at this time.
   “We sent the survey to seek their comfort level with active shooters and emergencies to see what training we should include, such as CPR and AED (automatic external defibrillation) and Epipens. Any plans for arming staff are not on the agenda now.”
  Among other matters:
--The board held a moment of silence for longtime teacher and coach Dan Signorini who recently passed away;
--Officials approved hiring Melissa Mills as an intervention specialist at South; Eric Lawson, Jessica Zeigler, Kyle Solar, Greta Gazda-Roe, Karen Barcus, Danielle Gibeson as long-term substitute teachers; and Shana Schubert as a returning sub secretary/cook and Kelly Sutphin as a new substitute aide;
--Board committees were named including Teresa George and Brooke Stingle for athletic/extracurricular; Powell and West, maintenance/building and grounds/safety; Thomas and West, finance; Powell and George, negotiations/labor relations; Thomas and West, curriculum; and West and Powell, evaluations. Moreover, George was named legislative liaison and Stingle was selected as student achievement liaison for the Ohio School Board Association;
--Panepucci said a waterline was repaired at West and remediation was ongoing with the insurance company while another break occurred at the stadium. However, it was repaired with a simple fix with no damage. Additionally, water fountains and bottle fillers were purchased and will be placed in each school;
--A resolution was passed to notify the board of all overnight conferences;
--The next meeting was scheduled for Feb. 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the board office.

(Photo Caption: The Buckeye Local Board of Education reorganized for 2023 and named Ashley West and Clint Powell as president and vice president. Pictured are, from left, Brooke Stingle, Teresa George, West, Powell and April Thomas.)
Culture Fair Toasts New Year’s Traditions
Posted 1/11/2023 at 10:16:26 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-The Buckeye Local High School Foreign Language Club is highlighting New Year’s traditions at 18th annual International Culture Fair on Jan. 25.
  “In the Midnight Hour” is the theme of this year’s fete, which will be held from 5-8 p.m. Admission is free but tickets cost 25 cents each for the food-tasting event. The first portion of the festivities will be held in the school commons area and students will provide exhibits and dishes from Argentina to Zimbabwe while children’s activities, live music from Jason Garczyk and a 50-50 raffle are also set. The second part of the fair will be conducted in the theater at 7 p.m. and will feature an array of Latin, French, Spanish and Italian music plus ballet, tap, salsa, polka and Chinese dragon dances and the Parade of Nations.
  Bonnie Soos, who shares co-advisor duties with Savana Granat, said formal attire is recommended in keeping with the holiday theme and proceeds will benefit the club’s field trips and cultural events.
  “The theme is ‘In the Midnight Hour’ and it will recognize New Year’s Eve traditions around the world,” Soos explained. “It is going to be a formal event with lots of glitz and glamour and we recommend formal attire, if possible.”
  About 37 countries will be represented including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Serbia, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, China, Thailand, North Korea, South Korea, Australia and Zimbabwe. Students typically select the countries and work in small groups while club members will also assist with duties such as tickets and refreshments.
  Soos said the fair has drawn several hundred attendants in the past with last year’s attracting its largest crowd to date. The event has generally been held around March but was moved this time because of the theme and Garczyk joins this year as the new accordionist. 
  The Foreign Language Club presently includes 112 members and Soos was thrilled with their efforts at each event.
  “I am very proud of our FLC members. Every year they amaze me with their beautiful displays, their delicious food, their talent and their dedication to culture and language,” she said. “I cannot wait to see what this year's fair brings. I already have a country list started for the fair in 2024!”
BLJHS Students Spread Warmth, Holiday Cheer
Posted 1/3/2023 at 9:55:06 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLJHS Students Sienna
ADENA-Buckeye Local Jr. High School Student Council members extended their reach into the community to keep local seniors warm this winter.
   The group collected new blankets and socks as well as lotion and holiday cards over the past month and donated 40 gift bags of items to the residents at Sienna Hills Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in Adena. BLJHS Principal Jason Kovalski said he’d hoped to instill a sense of good citizenship in his students with more community outreach and the collection was one way of doing just that, particularly post-COVID.
   "We are still trying to hit the reset button with community service projects at Buckeye Local Jr. High. COVID deterred our community service projects over the last few years and we are trying to get back out into the community to show that we care,” Kovalski said.
  He, Student Council Advisor Jennifer Panepucci and school bus driver Beth Petrosino joined students Mylie Richter, Chloe Vanchure, Jayse Carter and Michael Kovalski to deliver the gifts to Sienna Hills on December 20. The group followed health guidelines by donning masks while they visited with a few of the residents. 
  "It was great to see the excitement in the eyes of the residents and smiles on their faces when our students walked into the activities room,” he added.
  The students chatted with several residents and even gave a few hugs. Facility officials also expressed how thankful they were to see the residents remembered during the Christmas season.
  Meanwhile, Kovalski said more outreach activities will be planned throughout the year.

(Photo Caption: Buckeye Local Jr. High School Student Council members and school leaders visited Sienna Hills Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in Adena prior to the holiday break, where they visited residents and donated 40 gift bags of blankets, socks and cards to spread some warmth and cheer. Pictured are, from left, student council member Mylie Richter, BLJHS Principal Jason Kovalski, student council advisor Jennifer Panepucci, members Chloe Vanchure, Jayse Carter and Michael Kovalski and bus driver Beth Petrosino.)
Lions Clubs, DQ Treat BLJHS Students for Holidays
Posted 12/28/2022 at 11:18:47 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLJHS Lions DOnation
CONNORVILLE-Local Lions Clubs have teamed up once again with the Rayland Dairy Queen to give gift cards to Buckeye Local Jr. High School students for the holidays.
  For the second year in a row, organizations from Warren Township, Brilliant, Dillonvale-Mt. Pleasant and Adena collaborated with businessowner Emilee Vargo to provide $5 gift cards redeemable at the Rayland location. More than 200 seventh- and eighth-graders will benefit from the gift and can enjoy the treats at any time. The Warren Twp. group had provided items for needy students since 2016 and also co-hosted the Drive By with Santa at the Dairy Queen for the past three years, but BLJHS Principal Jason Kovalski asked all of the organizations to unite since the students reside within their areas.
  “We used to have Breakfast with Santa [at Dairy Queen], but during COVID we did the Drive By with Santa and DQ again Dec. 11 and provided treats, so it morphed into this to include the junior high kids. All the clubs are involved and Emilee Vargo provided the gift certificates,” said Warren Twp. Lions Club President Roger Warren. “Jason wanted to include all of the kids and all of the clubs contribute because the children are within their communities. Everybody’s been cooperative with giving them a special meal and Emilee is so supportive.” 
   He added that the groups were simply living by their motto, “We Serve.”
   “As Lions, we serve, and there’s nothing better than serving the youth of the area. Hopefully they pay it forward someday.”
   “That’s the theme: We Serve” added Brilliant Lions Club President Butch Ford. “Anything we can do to help out with projects for children, [we’ll do] whatever it takes.”
   Vargo said the cause has always been special to her and she was happy to help.
   “There are kids I know who are less fortunate who come every year, and I know this helps them,” she said. “It’s a privilege to be able to do this. To serve something to every kid is nice and I enjoy it.”
   The gift cards can be redeemed at any time at the Rayland location and no purchase is necessary.
   Kovalski was pleased that the civic organizations pulled together once again to benefit the students in his school.
   “I’ve worked with the Lions Clubs and churches since I’ve became an administrator at Buckeye Local, which will be 13 years. No matter what I ask, they are always open to help Buckeye Local Jr. High.”
(Photo Caption: Local Lions Clubs have joined forces with the Rayland Dairy Queen for the second year to provide $5 gift cards to Buckeye Local Jr. High School students for the holidays. More than 200 seventh-and eighth-graders can redeem the cards at the Rayland site and enjoy a meal at any time. Pictured are, front from left, Rayland Dairy Queen owner Emilee Vargo, seventh-grader Loraina Hess, seventh-grader Codey Sellers, Warren Township Lions Club President Roger Warren and eighth-grader Paige Dombroski. Back: Brilliant Lions Club Second Vice President Ralph Nickoson, Brilliant Lions Club President Butch Ford, Warren Twp. Lions Club Vice President Tom Thomas and eighth-grader Derek Porter.)
Glauser Gets Perfect Scores
Posted 12/27/2022 at 11:08:59 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Isabella Perfect Scores
Isabella Glauser, a fifth-grade student at Buckeye West Elementary in Adena, was recognized by the Buckeye Local School Board for obtaining perfect scores on her Ohio State Summative Assessments. Glauser, pictured here with Superintendent Scott Celestin and West Principal Brian DiCola, earned top scores in third-grade English and Language Arts (ELA) and fourth-grade math and ELA tests. She is the daughter of Melissa Glauser of Dillonvale.
Students Raise Money to Help Housefire Victims
Posted 12/9/2022 at 7:45:36 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLHS Fundraiser
CONNORVILLE-Some Buckeye Local High School students are reaching out to help one of their own following a devastating housefire in November.
   Freshmen John Frank and Olivia Takach have organized several fundraisers to support a fellow student and his family who were left homeless following a fire last month and garnered more than $900 to help. Frank and Takach took it upon themselves to lend a hand and received permission from administrators, then they quickly made plans to sell soda and sweets at the high school to help offset some of the family’s expenses. The duo, with the help of schoolmates Kiarra Eastham, Jackie Richardson and Lizzie Frank, set up their sales table in the second-floor corridor of the building to peddle pop on Nov. 21 and 22 and resumed with another moneymaker with soda and treats on Dec. 1 and 2. 
   “Someone recently had a housefire and the damage was bad enough that they have been living in a hotel,” Takach explained.
   “We thought we’d raise money to get them through the tough times,” Frank added. “We plan to do more but we haven’t decided what.” 
   The second sale included a bevy of baked goods from apple fritters and Rice Krispies treats to fudge and mini eclairs. Frank said they made nearly $200 alone on the soda fundraiser and earned about $725 from the most recent moneymaker, and they know every cent will help.
   “We really enjoy it,” said Takach. “It’s nice to see other people be happy that someone thought of them and is doing something.”

(Photo Caption: Buckeye Local High School freshmen John Frank and Olivia Takach set up a table to sell soda and sweets to benefit a fellow student and his family whose home was damaged in a fire last month. The duo conducted two fundraising sales with pop and baked goods to assist the family and raised $925, plus they may have more plans in the works.)
Buckeye Local Earmarks Safety Grant for Schools
Posted 12/7/2022 at 10:03:19 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
DILLONVALE-A total of $200,000 is coming to the Buckeye Local School District for security purposes and two buildings will benefit from improvements.
   The district recently learned it was among 708 sites selected for Ohio K-12 School Safety Grants through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. The grants are part of a $100 million program and will be expended in 57 counties for security cameras, public address systems, automatic door locks, visitor badging systems and exterior lighting.?
    Julie Packer, district director of special education, preschool and student services, said she completed the application with Superintendent Scott Celestin and Maintenance Director Tony Panepucci with help from Bill Petrozzi, a substitute teacher with a background in security who assessed the buildings. Officials applied for $500,000 this past October to upgrade all of the schools but she was pleased to see some much-needed upgrades coming to Buckeye North and West Elementary Schools over the coming year. 
  “We had to apply for each building and these were the two that received grants,” she said. “This was the second or third round for the safety grant and we sought $500,000, but it was a competitive grant.”
  North Elementary in Brilliant and West Elementary in Adena will each receive $100,000 to obtain protective window coverings, upgraded cameras and new communication equipment to ensure safety for students and staff.
  “Both buildings will get mirrored film installed on the first-floor windows and covering with the school name that blocks people from looking in,” Packer added. “Both schools will get upgrades with their cameras and security systems, and we will also get fencing around the playground at West while North is getting safety training and signage for traffic flow.”
  Upgrades will begin immediately since funding is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, for an approved list of items. 
  “We were able to get bigger, better radios that were installed in the summer and bill back for that,” she explained. “The mirrored film is being installed at West over the holiday break and phase one will also include first-floor windows at West. Maybe we’ll start at North, but that will take longer because there are more windows. Both of them should be done by the end of January.”
  The second phase involves the installation of new security cameras by High Tech Security of Colerain and work could occur over the next two or three months. Packer said the two schools currently have outdated analog cameras which will be updated to more modern Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) versions on the interior and exterior of the buildings.
  “There will be a total redo at North. We completed it at South last year out of the district budget for $17,000 and also upgraded the high school and district, but North’s project will be for $20,000 and West’s is for $7,000,” she noted. “The cameras can hold up to 30 days of recordings.”
  Packer said the ultimate goal is to ensure that staff and students feel secure at school.
  “We’re here to educate the kids, so we have to provide an environment where they can feel safe. When they are with us, they are our No. 1 priority.”
  North Elementary Principal Susan Nolan was appreciative of the funding and said it will make a difference at her school.
  “It will help us make improvements because we’ve had cameras that were outdated, and this money allows us to have security camera improvements. I also love the idea of getting the safety screens on the windows. It’s just wonderful to upgrade the security to keep our kids even more safe.”
  West Elementary Principal Brian DiCola agreed and credited Packer for her hard work to see it through.
  “We're thankful for her and her diligence to get this grant. Our students' safety is our first priority. We have a good culture but we're always looking for ways to improve and their safety is the most important,” he said. “This grant and these security updates will help us ensure we can continue to keep them safe. We're looking forward to the new security updates.”
  Meanwhile, Celestin said he was grateful to see the projects getting underway and work will continue to incorporate similar improvements at South Elementary in Tiltonsville.
 “I am thankful for the grant money and the opportunity to upgrade some of the safety issues at the buildings,” he concluded. “Ms. Packer worked hard on these grants and I am glad to see her efforts rewarded. In case the community is wondering about South Elementary, since they did not get the grant money, we will work diligently to come up with the funds to make the same improvements at their building.”
NHS Making an Impact with Projects
Posted 12/7/2022 at 9:44:31 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL NHS Making an Impact
CONNORVILLE-The Buckeye Local High School National Honor Society is making an impact by undertaking a series of community service projects this year.
   The 29-member student organization is following this year’s service theme of “Making an Impact” by reaching out to help its school and local community. The group is currently heading up a clothing drive to develop a thrift store at the school through Dec. 9 and advisor Alonna Morrison said NHS co-President Cai McKeever and Vice President Jaelee Thompson are organizing the effort. The group is seeking clean, gently worn items to benefit the ongoing PRIDE campaign to update and beautify the school. Among the upgrades are replacing flags on poles at the school entrance, adding more safety film designs on the first floor, placing a lighted sign at the front of the building and revamping the media center into a student lounge to use as a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) reward.
  “It's really more of a student thrift store, but we're trying to keep prices low and will be donating any unsold items,” Morrison said. “We are holding a drive from Dec. 5-9 to collect gently used clothing from students. We are not accepting socks, undergarments or inappropriate clothing. We will then price all clothing and sell it in a thrift store to our high school students at low prices. Any funds raised go to the PRIDE campaign and any leftover items will be donated to students who need them or a local Salvation Army.”
  NHS members will sort and price the clothes and the store should be open around Dec. 14-16. She added that McKeever and Thompson researched how to complete the project and discussed details with the members. The thrift store will be open at the high school for students only. Clothing can be dropped off to any teacher but organizers are mostly taking donations from students.
   “Jaelee and Cai have done a fantastic job in leading this project. They researched all the details, wrote a letter for the [school] app, teachers and announcements, talked to our principal about the project and spoke with one of our teachers to help make posters to advertise. Cai, Jaelee and our other NHS students will help out by collecting and counting donations, helping to price clothing and working in the thrift store. This is one of the more detailed projects we've done and I'm excited to see how it turns out. “
  The clothing drive comes on the heels of a holiday food drive which wrapped up Dec. 2 and gathered more than 400 items for the Smithfield Food Pantry. Morrison said that collection began Nov. 28 and included nonperishable food items and personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes and deodorant. It was among a series of community service projects the student organization has completed, including a toy drive last year for WVU Medicine’s Pediatrics Unit at Wheeling Hospital, a collection for the Jefferson County Humane Society and Christmas story times at the elementary schools, among others. This fall, students also painted at the district office and added some Panther art to the walls for school pride, plus they volunteered at Buckeye South Elementary’s Fall Festival. Morrison continued that a blanket and toy drive are also possibly in the works and everything ties into this year’s NHS service theme of “Making an Impact”—something her group has definitely achieved thus far.
  “This year, NHS has 29 members, which is the largest chapter we’ve had in a while. I think that our NHS members have a lot of fun with these projects. They get to choose and design almost all of our projects, so they have a lot of freedom to make decisions and they do a great job at showing leadership,” she continued. “I am so proud of the leadership that these students have taken on throughout this project. This year's service theme is ‘Making an Impact’ and they are absolutely on a mission!”
  NHS is a national organization that recognizes students who demonstrate outstanding scholarship, leadership, service and character. 

(Photo Caption: Buckeye Local High School National Honor Society Vice President Jaelee Thompson, left, and Co-President Cai McKeever are organizing a clothing drive this week to create a school thrift store for students. Items will be taken until Dec. 9 and offered at a low price while excess goods will be donated to students or the local Salvation Army. The project, which will benefit the PRIDE campaign to beautify and upgrade the school, is one of many community service events following the organization’s theme of “Making an Impact” this year.)
BLJHS Student Council Reaching out to Seniors
Posted 11/29/2022 at 10:14:23 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-The Buckeye Local Jr. High School Student Council is making it their mission to give back to the community by sharing the warmth with senior citizens.
   Principal Jason Kovalski said the organization’s 30 members, who are led by advisor Jennifer Panepucci, are collecting throw blankets to holiday cards and will distribute the items at local senior facilities within the district including nursing homes and senior citizen centers. The collection will last until Dec. 16 and sent to the sites to counter the colder temperatures.
   Kovalski said this was the student council’s first act of community service post-COVID and more projects are expected throughout the next year.
   “We were looking for a community outreach project that shows the elderly community that younger citizens do care about them,” he said. “They are going to collect items in the office and through their flex (homeroom) teachers, and we are going to take a group of students and vjsit a few facilities to deliver them.”
   Goods being collected include throw blankets, fuzzy socks, slippers, pajama sets, lotions and moisturizers, personal health care items and holiday cards. All of the items must be brand new with original packaging and parents and the public are encouraged to either send them with their student or drop them off at the school during business hours. All of the items must be received by Dec. 16 for distribution.
   Kovalski said he wanted the school to become more involved with outreach and this was a great way to begin.
   “My personal goal this year is for us [at BLJHS] to build a community involvement and outreach projects,” he added. “This is probably our first time post-COVID.”
   He is seeking potential sites to benefit from the drive and noted that anyone who wanted to recommend a site or make a donation may contact him at (740) 859-2196 or via email at [email protected].
Aubrey Making Her Mark at Buckeye West
Posted 11/3/2022 at 9:38:23 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL West Mural
ADENA-Walk through Buckeye West Elementary School in Adena and you may notice some new decorations adorning the walls.
   Art teacher Jennifer Aubrey painted a design at the request of Principal Brian DiCola, and her handiwork is giving the building a little lift and the students some added inspiration.
   “Mr. DiCola approached me and asked if I was willing to start thinking of some ways to brighten up the walls and spaces around the school. We began scouring Pinterest and the internet to find some fun quotes, drawings and designs we could add around the building,” she said. “I painted our first mural and used some student work to complete the scene. Eventually, I would like to have students help paint different pictures throughout the school.”
   Her initial effort depicts the character of Vashti from the Peter H. Reynolds book, “The Dot,” while students in grades PreK-6 provided their own talents by creating the dots that trail from Vashti’s paintbrush.
   She said the project is literally leaving an indelible mark upon her and the school itself.
   “I was so excited when Mr. DiCola brought this to my attention. The thought of leaving a mark on West Elementary is extremely inspiring. I am trying to find ways to incorporate artists we are learning about, styles we are studying, inspiring quotations and fun, welcoming colors. Art is a great way to reach out and make the school a fun environment for everyone.”
   Aubrey has spent the past two decades working for Buckeye Local Schools as an intervention specialist and teaching second- and third-grade classes, but she began instructing art at Buckeye West, North and South Elementary Schools this year. She said only one mural exists at West now, but plans are in the works to add more throughout the year. However, her program is on a rotation schedule with computer and music classes and she is available at each of the three district elementary schools for three weeks out of each quarter, which means her murals will take some time to complete. Aubrey also plans to add or change some of the displays each year.
  Still, she finds the prospect very exciting.
  “I am thrilled to see the new energy and ideas that are coming to Buckeye Local right now, and Mr. DiCola and this project are the perfect examples of that. I am honored that I can be a part of this project,” she said.

(Photo Cutline: Art teacher Jennifer Aubrey is showing off her handiwork by adding murals to the walls of Buckeye West Elementary School in Adena.  Aubrey, a longtime teacher at Buckeye Local Schools, plans to add more designs throughout the year and beyond.)
BL Students Shine at Olympic Challenge
Posted 10/28/2022 at 1:01:24 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Olympics
CONNORVILLE-Students had their moment in the sun partaking in the Buckeye Local School District’s Olympic Challenge on Thursday.
   Nearly 200 people including students, teachers, parents and volunteers gathered at Buckeye Local High School’s two gymnasiums for activities throughout the day. The challenge was open to grades K-6 students with individual education plans, or IEP’s, and more than 60 kids attended from Buckeye North, South and West Elementary and Buckeye Local Jr. High Schools. They were divided into five groups each for grades K-3 and 4-6 and completed an Olympiad obstacle course, long jump, super dash and cornhole in the Panther Gym, plus they enjoyed crafts and face painting in the small gym. Following lunch, awards were doled out with medals for first-place recipients and ribbons for second- and third-place finishers. Family members were invited to witness the festivities while members of the BLHS Student Council, Foreign Language Club, National Honors Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes volunteered to assist the festivities.
  BLHS Principal Luke Parsons, who organized this year’s event, said it was a way to unite the students and give them the spotlight.
  “We’ve been on a hiatus for the past few years due to COVID and other reasons but were very excited to bring it back this year,” Parsons said. “It’s a great way for the elementary students to visit the school and gives my students a chance to shine, as well. Today was about the elementary kids, and we think it was a fantastic day.”
   Parsons also thanked BLHS officials and staff for their support, including Superintendent Scott Celestin, high school Assistant Principal Janelle Windsheimer, district Special Education Director Julie Packer, retired teacher MaryEllen Bolock, teachers Mike DiCenzo, Belinda Boyce and Bonnie Soos, Savanna Granat and Amanda Gruber, Buckeye North Elementary Principal Susan Nolan, South Elementary Principal Lori Roberts and West Elementary Principal Brian DiCola and the elementary special education teachers.
  Celestin and Buckeye Local Board of Education member Clint Powell were also on hand and said it was a wonderful opportunity for the kids.
  “This is a great day for Buckeye Local to see these students making friends and uniting for fun, and it’s an opportunity for them to shine,” said Celestin. “I want to thank Mr. Parsons and the high school for not only putting this on, but also for the way they are accepting these students and showing that they care.”
   Celestin was involved in organizing previous events and said the Olympic Challenge has been held for about 20 years. This time, he gave all of the credit to BLHS officials and students.
   “They’ve embraced this and look forward to doing it,” he said.
   “I want to commend the district and all of the building principals, teachers, students and even the juniors and seniors helping with the event,” Powell added. “The events were put together to help build self-esteem and confidence in students. It’s just another positive event put on by the Buckeye Local School District to impact and benefit our students.”
   Meanwhile, some of the young participants noted their enjoyment with the experience.
   “I get to play games,” said Anastaysha Davis, a fourth-grader at West Elementary.
   North Elementary kindergartener Isaiah King said he liked playing cornhole and making crafts and he had lots of fun.
   But South Elementary first-grader Antonio Pepe was even more excited.
   “I’m never gonna leave this place,” he said matter-of-factly.

(Photo Cutline: Buckeye South Elementary second-grader Jerycho Hartz makes her way through the Olympiad obstacle course during the Olympic Challenge at Buckeye Local High School on Thursday. More than 60 kids in grades K-6 completed a series of events including long jump, cornhole and a super dash plus they enjoyed face painting and crafts. The day ended with medals and ribbons awarded to first-through third-place recipients.)
Funding Contributes to Sign Project at North
Posted 10/13/2022 at 10:34:05 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL North DeVore Donation
BRILLIANT-A local family has made a $9,000 monetary contribution in tribute to their brother which will leave a lasting legacy at Buckeye North Elementary.
  Dave and Darlene Devore made the donation in memory of their sibling, Fred, who passed away three years ago but had been active in the community. 
   “My brother was a longtime member of the Wells Township Sportsman’s Club and he’s donated in the past. The sportsman’s club had also donated in his name,” Dave Devore said. “We hoped to donate to the school. We went to school there and I figured we would do this. I feel great about it and know it could go somewhere useful.”
   Devore added that Fred enjoyed working with kids during events at the club and giving money for the sign was a wonderful way to carry on the tradition. Principal Susan Nolan said the contribution will help make a wish come true by updating the outdated sign on the campus with a digital marquee.
   “We were working on getting a new electronic sign out front for about year. The sportsman’s club previously donated $5,000 and they also helped with our playground that was installed three years ago. They’ve also bought more than 40 kids new bicycles for Christmas and screen protectors for the desks during COVID,” Nolan said. “They’ve been very generous and they did it in Fred Devore’s name. He loved kids.”
   Nolan thanked the Devores and said she hoped to acquire the sign and have it installed this spring.

(Photo Caption: Siblings Dave and Darlene Devore donated $9,000 to Buckeye North Elementary School which will be used to upgrade signage on the campus to a digital format. The contribution was made in the name of Fred Devore, the siblings’ brother who passed away three years ago but was a longtime supporter and benefactor. Pictured are, from left, Principal Susan Nolan, Dave Devore, Darlene Devore and Superintendent Scott Celestin.)
Ascent Resources Donates STEM Boxes to Schools
Posted 10/12/2022 at 10:28:57 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Ascent STEM Boxes North
BRILLIANT-Students in Buckeye Local Schools have the benefit of STEM learning thanks to a donation from Ascent Resources.
  Company officials contributed dozens of boxes for fourth-to sixth-grade students to utilize in their classrooms.    Amanda Finn, director of external affairs for Ascent Resources, said 67 boxes were distributed and will benefit more than 402 students in area schools. Finn continued that boxes went to 11 schools in a five-county area including Jefferson, Harrison, Guernsey and Belmont.
   “It’s a STEM science experiment box with six learning projects. It’s teaching them science and about oil and gas since it’s in our area,” Finn said. “It includes a pipeline test, one on building a rig, another teaching them how to frack a well and a weighty problems test.”
   She said the STEM boxes were born upon the beliefs of company CEO Jeff Fisher, who has supported education in the company’s home base of Oklahoma.
  “Our CEO is a large proponent of STEM and he wanted us to work on something. He’s had programs in Oklahoma and this is what we decided to do.”
  Leaders at Buckeye North, West and South Elementary Schools said they were grateful for the gifts.
  Buckeye North Elementary Principal Susan Nolan said they were another tool to enhance student learning, but this wasn’t the first time the company has supported the district.
  “They had also donated the cinch sacks for our Back to School Bash,” she commented.
  West Elementary Principal Brian DiCola noted his gratitude, saying the company has always supported the school system.
   “It’s amazing. They are working so well with us,” DiCola added. “It’s important to have STEM and open students’ eyes to science careers and see a lot of the work Ascent does around here. It makes learning fun and gives our staff another resource to teach the kids.”
   South Elementary Principal Lori Roberts was also appreciative and said they will be implemented in the science classes.
   “Our science teachers are really excited about using them and the hands-on learning it offers the kids.”

(Photo Caption: Students at Buckeye North Elementary display boxes donated by Ascent Resources to provide a series of STEM projects for fourth-to-sixth-graders. Pictured are, from left, Emma Saylor, Jayden Mossor, Mason Patterson, Declan Vasconcellos, Kamryn Arnett and Zyriah Velez with Principal Susan Nolan. Boxes were also donated to South Elementary in Tiltonsville and West Elementary in Adena.)
ARPA Funds Supply Needy Students
Posted 8/26/2022 at 10:50:07 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL ARPA Funds Supply Kids
DILLONVALE-Buckeye Local Schools will put some federal funding to use to help students in need.
  Superintendent Scott Celestin said the district opted to use an estimated $7,100 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Homeless grant allocation to supply low-income students with hygiene products, learning materials and other items. The grant, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund, is disbursed through the Ohio Department of Education and generally earmarked for homeless students. Celestin said at least half of the student population are eligible to receive free and reduced lunches and leaders opted to benefit underprivileged youth in another way. 
  “We get ESSER funds for homeless students and the administration decided to put it to use. [District Treasurer Merri Matthews] bought food, hygiene products and other items. We want the families to know it is available,” Celestin said. “It’s for the kids who are socioeconomically disadvantaged and it’s stuff they can take home.”
   Officials used the estimated $7,100 allocation to purchase school supplies, laundry detergent and toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, shampoo, conditioner, soap, feminine products, shaving cream, razors, lotion, combs, brushes, towels and washcloths, as well as socks, blankets and food products including snacks, cereal, breakfast bars, fruit bars, macaroni and cheese and Ramen noodles, water and milk that does not require refrigeration. Additionally, elementary-aged students received underwear and reusable lunch bags.
   Celestin said the supplies were made available at Buckeye North, South and West Elementary and Buckeye Local Jr./Sr. High Schools for the start of the year. Students returned to class on Aug. 24. 
   “They were distributed to the schools so they are available for the kids,” he concluded.

(Photo Caption: The Buckeye Local School District opted to use state American Rescue Plan Act funds totaling $7,100 to purchase school supplies, hygiene products, food and other goods to support homeless and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. The items were distributed to the district’s four school buildings and will be given to youth as needed.)
A Fun Day
Posted 5/26/2022 at 10:42:41 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
North Olympics Race
Buckeye North Elementary students enjoyed a day in the sun during the annual School-wide Olympics event on Monday. Kids in grades K-6 were divided into blended teams and completed relay races such as a balloon pop and bunny hop as well as tug-of-war. Twenty-five Buckeye Local High School students volunteered to assist and the top three teams included teachers Jane Kleineke’s Werewolves, Jennifer Aubrey’s Elves and Melissa Kernen’s Krakens. Pictured is third-grader Ada Price racing to give freshman Gavin Edgell in a straw skirt during a tropical-themed dress-up race.
BL Seniors Gain Scholarships
Posted 5/25/2022 at 10:37:44 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local High School seniors received more than $65,000 in scholarships during the annual Senior Awards Assembly on May 10.
   Organizations and schools provided awards totaling $65,750 in addition to academic scholarships from local colleges and universities during the event to help graduates pursue higher education.
  Among this year’s recipients were Allison Trekal with the Alpha Delta Kappa Scholarship for $500; Cameron Best and Adrianna Blazeski, the Buckeye Local Jr. Panthers Scholarship for $500 each; Jacob Phillis, the Leon Berze Memorial Scholarship for $500; James Hornyak, Ethan McHugh and Jacob Phillis, Brilliant Lions Club Scholarship for $500; Mariah Pelkey, the Buckeye Local Board of Education and Buckeye Local Football Alumni Scholarships for $500 each; Kylie Gura, Buckeye Local Classroom Teacher Association Scholarship for $500; Adrianna Blazeski, Brooklyn Lengyel, Brianna Merkel and Matthew Scott, Dillonvale High School Alumni Association Scholarship for $750 each; Hannah Reynolds, From the Heart Anonymous Scholarship for $750; Jacob Phillis, Eastern Gateway Community College’s Jefferson County Academic Scholarship for tuition, books and supplies; Cameron Best, Nathan W. Finney Memorial Scholarship for $500; Hunter McFadden and Hannah Reynolds, Cody Griffith Life Improvement Award for $750 each; Hunter McFadden, Heske Family Award (for most improved GPA) for $400; Cameron Best, Adrianna Blazeski and Brianna Merkel, Indian Club Scholarship for $1,000 each; Cameron Best and Bailey Ebright, Jefferson County Farm Bureau Scholarship; Kylie Gura and Aivri Ruttencutter, Kontogiannis Family Scholarship for $5,000 each; Brooklyn Lengyel, Maderia Family Scholarship for $1,000; Adrianna Blazeski, Isabella Hepburn, Kylie Gura and Kassidy George, Jessica Marie Mayle Memorial Volleyball Scholarship for $1,000 each; Allison Trekal and Ethan McHugh, Bill Mazeroski Baseball Scholarship for $4,000 each; Kaydence Angel and Kylie Gura, Brad W. McFadden Memorial Scholarship for $500 each; Adrianna Blazeski, Josh Merriman Memorial Scholarship for $500; Aivri Ruttencutter and Rylie White, Russ Moran Memorial Scholarship for $500 each; Matthew Scott and Rylie White, Mt. Pleasant-Dillonvale Lion’s Club Scholarship for $500 each; Brooklyn Lengyel, Mt. Pleasant High School Class Alumni Association Scholarship for $1,000; Kaden Bednarek and Adrianna Blazeski, Joseph Nieb ‘43’ Memorial Scholarship for $1,000 each; Cameron Best, North Elementary Robert Dalrymple Memorial Scholarship for $1,000; Adrianna Blazeski and Shaelynn Cesario, OAPSE Scholarship for $200 each; Adrianna Blazeski and Hester Lambright, Freshmen Academic Scholarships from Ohio University Eastern.
  Ohio High School Athletics Association (OHSAA) Athletic Awards were also given to the following: Cameron Best and Adrianna Blazeski, Scholar Athletes; Trevor Herbert and Allison Trekal, Courageous Student Award; Ethan McHugh, Justin Driscoll, Kassidy George and Mariah Pelkey, NFHS National Award of Excellence; Cameron Best and Adrianna Blazeski, the Archie Griffin Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award.
  Three $3,000 scholarships went to Kaden Bednarek, Brooklyn Lengyel and Brooke Shaffer from the Charles and Thelma Pugliese Charitable Foundation while the Sons of the American Legion Squadron Post 525 presented $500 scholarships to Kaden Bednarek, Hester Lambright and Allison Trekal. More honors included Mallory Kujawa with the Special Friends Scholarship for $500; Demetria Christian, the Edward J. Stanko Memorial Scholarship for $250; Robert Ellis, the Steven E. Strupe Memorial Scholarship for $2,000; Jacob Phillis, the Mike Tolliver Memorial Scholarship for $750.
  Touchdown Club Scholarship winners included Justin Driscoll with the Pete Ziniach Scholarship for $500; Ethan McHugh, the Bill McHugh Scholarship for $500; and Mariah Pelkey, the Dick Thurnes Scholarship for $500. The V.A.L.E.S. Scholarship was awarded to Ethan McHugh and Mariah Pelkey for $750 each while Cameron Best and Isabella Hepburn each received the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4811 Scholarship for $500. Other recipients included Kaden Bednarek and Brooklyn Lengyel, Warren Township Lion’s Club Scholarship for $500 each; Allison Trekal, the Nora Webb-Winstead Memorial Scholarship for $1,000; Mallory Kujawa, Doyle R. Weldon Memorial Band Scholarship for $1,000; Kaden Bednarek and Hannah Reynolds, Wells Township Haunted House Scholarship for $100 for each year they volunteered; Brianna Merkel, Wheeling Hospital Auxiliary for $1,000 for four years; and Adrianna Blazeski and Bailey Ebright, Woman’s Club of Adena Scholarship for $500 each.
South Raises Money for Autism Awareness
Posted 5/25/2022 at 10:32:18 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
South Autism FR
Buckeye South Elementary showed its support for autism awareness by raising $734 for the Autism Speaks organization. School speech pathologist Vanessa Maurer spearheaded fundraisers complete with T-shirt sales and activities throughout April, which incidentally was Autism Awareness Month. Among the activities were themed dress-up days for a donation, a door-decorating contest with Jenny Potts’ first-grade class earning a pizza party and free planning time for the teacher and a Kids and Coins for Autism monetary collection with Madison Legros’s first-grade class being the top moneymaker. As a result, they received free outside time and a chance to toss water balloons at Principal Julie Packer. Maurer said the coin collection funds went to the organization while $630 in T-shirt sales proceeds will provide South students with sensory items and supplies to aid social skills. She was pleased with the response and looks forward to holding more events next year. Pictured are teachers and students standing in formation as the infinity symbol—one of the symbols for autism—in a show of solidarity.
BL Kids Attend Camp
Posted 5/17/2022 at 10:13:14 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL FFA Camp Muskingum
Seventy-three students from Buckeye North, West and South Elementary Schools attended FFA Camp Muskingum near Carrollton on May 3-6. There they had a chance to participate in archery, outdoor science lessons, nature hikes and other activities. They also learned about team building and leadership and met their future classmates when they attend Buckeye Local Jr. High School next fall.
Art Show Winds Down
Posted 5/15/2022 at 10:50:23 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLHS Art Show
More than 80 pieces were on display during the 2022 Spring Art Show on May 10-13 at Buckeye Local Jr./Sr. High School. Students in grades 9-12 showcased watercolor and acrylic paintings as well as charcoal drawings and sculptures they completed throughout the school year. Their works were exhibited in the theatre with a public viewing that Monday and the show was open to staff and students during school hours for the rest of the week. Art teacher Amanda Gruber said the event has been held for more than a decade but was preempted by the COVID pandemic.
Moving Up
Posted 5/14/2022 at 10:43:39 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLJHS Sixth-Grade Tour
About 100 sixth-graders from Buckeye North, South and West Elementary Schools converged upon Buckeye Local Jr./Sr. High School May 12 to tour the facilities. Student Council members led groups throughout the building to familiarize them with classrooms and other surroundings before moving up to  seventh grade in the fall. Pictured is eighth-grader Kamden Kinyo guiding some of the underclassmen during the event.
Celestin Remains Interim Superintendent
Posted 5/4/2022 at 11:45:10 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Celestin
DILLONVALE-Interim Superintendent Scott Celestin will remain in his position for another year following talks with the Buckeye Local Board of Education.
   Celestin’s service was extended through the 2022-23 school year in a non-contractual agreement at the April 25 board meeting and officials made the announcement following an executive session. Board President Teresa George was pleased to see Celestin continue at the helm and said it will give leaders a greater opportunity to select a permanent replacement.
   “We feel with Scott continuing on the current path as interim superintendent that it will allow the board to take time to choose a new superintendent,” George said. “We don’t want to rush it; we want time to choose a superintendent who is the right fit for the district.”
   She praised Celestin for his efforts to carry the district through the current year and said he has the support of stakeholders and staff alike. 
   “I think Scott is doing a phenomenal job. He has the support of staff and administrators, and with the assistance of [Assistant Superintendent William Luther], the district is going in the direction it needs to be.”
   Celestin, who has been an educator for the past 34 years, spent 18 of them at Buckeye Local Schools. He served as principal at Buckeye Local High School in 2004 and later became district director of transportation and student services. He held those titles from 2011-2017, after which he was named assistant superintendent along with Luther. Celestin has served in an interim capacity since December of 2020 and was grateful to continue his tenure.
   “I think it’s a great district and the staff and students here are amazing,” he said. “There are good things coming for Buckeye Local and I'm glad to be part of it.”
   The district includes an estimated 1,700 students and 200 teachers and staff and Celestin said one of his goals is to get everyone working together and show them that they are appreciated. Meanwhile, more plans are coming down the pike with nearly $500,000 in improvements at the high school. The first phase of heating and cooling updates was recently completed at a cost of $163,181 and upcoming projects include a new public announcement system, exterior lighting replacements and paving along Panther Drive and the parking lot for approximately $330,000. The HVAC project was financed using federal ESSER money while the remaining expenses will be covered under the district’s general fund. Other improvements entail a new radio system for school and bus communication for about $135,000 and updating the reading series across the district.
Annual Sea Air & Land Challenge at BLHS
Posted 5/3/2022 at 12:43:49 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-Students will put their STEM knowledge to work during the fourth annual Sea Air and Land Challenge at Buckeye Local High School on May 6.
   The event, which is sponsored by Penn State University’s Electro-Optics Center (EOC), runs from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and begins with a brief gathering in the auditorium while the challenges follow with land and air events in the gym and sea activities scheduled outside in tented areas. Teams compete with members operating remote-controlled robots they designed to finish timed tasks on land, under water and by air with experts judging all of the activities. The teams will break for lunch, after which trophies will be given for top performers in each challenge as well as an Innovation Award. In addition, Navy Chief Chris Lange will be featured as keynote speaker. BLHS will have three teams competing while other schools expected are Martins Ferry, Wheeling Central and potentially Bedford High School from Michigan. 
  Organizer Jeff Merrill, a math teacher at BLHS who also helped establish the school’s STEM program, said the challenge was first created at the EOC and Buckeye Local was invited to participate. BLHS officials were inspired to host their own event in 2018 which attracted about 100 students from Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
  “The Sea Air and Land Challenge is an Office of Naval Research-sponsored program in which teams of high school-aged students learn about the engineering process through the design and build of a robotic system.  The systems are then used to compete in challenges relevant to the Department of Defense which mimic missions encountered by the military, national security agencies and first responders,” he explained. “The challenge provides the opportunity for high school students to tackle a difficult engineering task while working with educators and engineering mentors. The teams have 12 to 16 weeks (one semester) to design and build unmanned vehicles and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) payloads to compete in the challenge of their choice. Teams may build submersibles for the sea challenge, drones for the air challenge or rovers for the land challenge. The challenges are designed by engineers at the Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory and by some of the country’s finest Navy SEALs and Green Berets.”
   He added that STEM was a growing job field and the military plays a vital role through national security. It also introduces students to career opportunities and helps educators implement a successful program in their school districts.
  Merrill commented that the teams were excited to showcase the skills they’ve learned along the way.
 “Students love the challenge of building the robots to meet the criteria of the challenges given to them,” he said.
BLHS Art Club Donates to Ukraine
Posted 4/27/2022 at 9:50:09 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Art Club Ukraine Drive
The Buckeye Local High School Art Club sponsored an online charity campaign through social media in April and gathered clothing, hygiene products and medical supplies for the people of Ukraine. The event was held in conjunction with IC Care of Wheeling, which transported contributions from across the Ohio Valley to the war-torn country. Advisor Amanda Gruber said it was the first time the 10-member student group conducted a donation drive and they thanked everyone for their generosity.
Blood Drive Draws Donors at BLHS
Posted 4/6/2022 at 12:12:57 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLHS Blood Drive
CONNORVILLE-Students, faculty and community members stepped up to help save lives during the biannual blood drive at Buckeye Local High School on April 1.
   Organizers said 39 people registered to donate but 27 units were collected at the event set in the small gym. Vitalant, formerly the Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh, coordinated efforts in conjunction with the school’s student council. Student Council Co-advisor Michael DiCenzo, who shares duties with Myste Carter, said a mix of school and community contributors were part of the effort and every bit helps.
   “A majority were students, plus teachers signed up and we had a few from the community,” he commented.
   In addition to saving lives, the blood drive has also supported the student council by providing a $500 scholarship to a graduating member should they raise 25 units at each drive. Unfortunately, the collection fell slightly short this year to be eligible.
   “We had 33-34 signed up in the fall and had 23 donors,” he added. “They collected 17 whole blood units, two plasma, and four double reds.”
   But the real purpose was to help others and students on hand were happy to lend their time. Juniors Rachel Jarman, Gage Cermak and Lizzie Frank all are first-time participants and said they were inspired in various ways.
   Jarman said she wanted to replenish supplies created by the blood shortage while Cermak saw the need firsthand.
   “I’m on the Dillonvale E-Squad,” he said. “I like giving.”
   “It helps people,” added junior Lizzie Frank. “I’ve always wanted to help, and since my mom worked with the American Red Cross I’ve always been around blood drives.”
   The third time was the charm for senior Brianne Merkel, a repeat donor who wanted to make a difference. She gave blood with a little support from friend and fellow senior Aivri Ruttencutter.
  “I wanted to give back to those in need,” Merkel commented. 
   “I’m just trying to help out,” noted first-timer Nathan Cline, a junior.
   The student council has organized the blood drive for well over a decade except last year because of COVID. Members manned stations such as the cantina while Vitalant personnel oversaw the collection. Units were provided to local hospitals including Weirton, Wheeling, Pittsburgh and Barnesville to support cancer and surgical patients, the elderly, accident victims and people with blood-borne issues, among others.
(Photo Cutline: Buckeye Local High School senior Brianna Merkel gives her third donation with a little emotional support from friend Aivri Ruttencutter during the BLHS Student Council’s biannual blood drive on April 1. About 27 students, staff and community members contributed to the cause to save the lives of countless people.)
Coding Students Bring Designs to Life
Posted 3/25/2022 at 9:21:13 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLJHS Coding Class
CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local Jr. High School students are putting their coding skills to use and bringing designs to life with some modern technology.
  Tech teacher Kathy Yocum instructs a nine-week programming course and alternates eighth-graders during the first and third nine weeks and seventh-graders during the second and fourth nine weeks. The upperclassmen wrapped up their sessions on March 18 with the younger students starting anew the following Monday, and Yocum said the schoolwork offers a real hands-on approach to learning.
  “We did programming, or coding, and algorithms, sequencing, conditionals, loops and variables,” she explained, adding that she manages to keep students engaged through interactive lessons. “They enjoy more hands-on activities. I wanted to get more into circuitry because there are some really cool projects we could do.”
  Students use what is known as block code and write programs in various tech languages including Python. They are then able to create unique projects such as operating tealights with circuitry and turn designs into objects with 3-D printers. Yocum previously earned a grant to acquire one printer in 2018 and used career technical funds to procure two more Makerbot Sketch units this past January for further computer-aided design (CAD). The high-tech hardware uses plastic thread melted to 220 degrees Celsius to create a digital model through what is known as the additive process. The hot plastic is squeezed out in layers within a matter of hours to form figures designed by students, but other materials can be used professionally including ceramic, glass, metal and even biological materials. Yocum said CAD affords endless opportunities to make the world a better place.
  “They can print houses and bridges,” she continued, saying biomedical researchers are also looking at ways to rebuild bone. “It goes into medicine and there are a lot of different areas. I’m trying to get students to see the possibilities that are available. There is so much more we can do.”
   For now, her classes are beginning to understand the many potential uses and how they can create on their own.
  “They can learn about exporting it out of the class program in a format the printer can understand. They are also practicing how to attach them to emails. I try to bring in skills they need to know in the future if they get into a career using this.”
   Their classroom practice has yielded three-dimensional shapes including snake toys, names and the school logo from the printers, and Yocum said the classes have completed an estimated 60 projects. She gains ideas from YouTube and the CAD program they use in class, as well as one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
   Some of her students have chalked it up as a fun learning experience.
   Eighth-grader Autumn Shaughnessy said her favorite part of the class was having Yocum as her teacher.
   “The teacher is because she works with you through things and helps with the 3-D coding,” added classmate Emily Edwards.
   Fellow pupil Clayton Williams is eyeing a possible vocation in his future.
   “I want to build computers,” he said.
 (Photo Cutline: Seventh-and eighth-graders are learning how to write computer codes and create digital models on 3-D printers at Buckeye Local Jr. High School, giving them advantages with high-tech tools to prepare for 21st Century careers. Pictured is eighth-grader Chase Milton with a few of the items students have created with Makerbot Sketch 3-D printers in class.)
100 Days and Valentines
Posted 2/23/2022 at 10:08:01 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
South 100 days and valentines
It was all about hearts and the young at heart as kindergarteners at Buckeye South Elementary observed Valentine’s Day and 100 days of school this month. Students had the option of dressing up like Cupid’s  cuties to centenarians for the occasion. Pictured are, front from left, Lillian Ricer, Rowan Angel, Maysen Horvath, Charlie Jo Hall and Gavin Smith. Back: Kaiden McCarthy, Cam Long, Hannah Napper, Zoey Nonemaker, Andy Sempkowski, Ella Thomas, Charlotte Kolenich and Tony Pape.
George, West to Lead BLBOE
Posted 1/12/2022 at 12:49:18 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLBOE January 10 Board
DILLONVALE-The Buckeye Local Board of Education kicked off the new year by organizing its panel on Tuesday.
   During the organizational meeting, Teresa George and Ashley West respectively were elected board president and vice president while officials also approved annual business such as establishing service funds and authorizing the superintendent to take action on various operational matters.
   The regular session followed and included approving a bevy of other issues. Under personnel matters, the board approved one-year contracts for classified staff who are currently at the end of their current pact. They include Courtney Romanyak and Lindsey Farmer, aides at Buckeye South Elementary; JoEllen Roshak, custodian/cook for the district and Buckeye Local High School; and Ray Roshak, head mechanic for the district. 
  Meanwhile, supplemental contracts were approved for Jason Merryman as junior high boys’ track and head cross country coach, Jim Berze as head golf coach and Jim Hoover as head football coach at BLHS while pupil activity contracts were given to Timothy Jacob as assistant baseball coach and Joe Soos as assistant softball coach.
  Officials also gave a shout out to student achievers during the meeting. Alexis Becker, a sixth-grader at Buckeye West Elementary, won the J.B. Green Team Billboard Drawing Contest and will have her rendering on display along Ohio 7 near Martins Ferry.
  Building spelling bee winners were also tapped from the schools and included the following: Alora Turner, first place; Sean Turner, second; Ava Conley, third; Kennody Mori, fourth; Emma Vitek, fifth; Brooklyn Torok, sixth; Damien Ohle, first alternate; and Necia Hosenfeld, second alternate at North; Ryan Palmer, first place; Jaremiah Burress, second; Janelle Cooper, third; Cameron Tittle, fourth; Kohlten Haga, fifth; Nathan Dentz, sixth; Logan Bailey, first alternate; and Ashley Harbert, second alternate, Buckeye South; Jocelynn Mathews, first place; Liam Thomas, second; Wyatt Durbin, third; Michael Kovalski, fourth; Evan Krupinski, fifth; Loriana Hess, sixth; Steven Bolock, first alternate; and Bryce Sobleski, second alternate, West Elementary. The district bee was set for Jan 12 at BLHS at 7 p.m. with a snow date on Jan. 19.
   BLHS students were then recognized for their charitable works over the holiday. They included Aivri Ruttencutter, Ethan McHugh, Brianna Merkel, Adrianna Blazeski, Isabella Hepburn, Robert Ellis, Zeke Argentine, Alexa Williams, Ayden Krupinski and Hunter Darrah for a toy drive; students Justin Driscoll, Ethan McHugh, Trey Hoover, Dylan Palmer, Hunter Roush, Hunter Darrah and Matt Scott, who served as elementary helpers; food pantry volunteers Corey Olinski, Ashley Soos, Mikayla Higgins and Hayden Mort; and BLHS National Honor Society members Bri Merkel, Riley White, Kaden Bednarek, Cameron Best, Adriana Blazeski, Kirsten Faulkner, Isabella Hepburn, James Hornyak, Hester Lambright, Brooklyn Lengyel, Ethan McHugh, Mariah Pelkey, Aivri Ruttencutter, Matthew Scott, Brooke Shaffer, Link Szafran and Allison Trekal for their toy campaign.
   In other action, the board:
--Held an executive session on personnel matters with no action taken;
--Announced calendar events including the end of the second nine weeks/first semester on Jan. 14; no school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 17; report cards on Jan. 21; a two-hour early dismissal on Feb. 16; and no school for President’s Day on Feb. 21;
--Set the next regular meeting for Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the administrative office in Dillonvale.
(Photo Cutline: The Buckeye Local Board of Education selected new leaders during the organizational meeting on Jan. 10 while districts are also observing School Board Appreciation Month in January. Pictured are, front from left, President Teresa George and Vice President Ashley West. Back: Brooke Stingle, April Ogden and Clint Powell.)
BLHS, Family Recovery Center Tackle Vaping
Posted 10/20/2021 at 10:15:25 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local High School and the Family Recovery Center of Steubenville are teaming up to educate students on the dangers of vaping.
   Principal Luke Parsons said prevention specialist Doug Murray is helping to institute Vaping Prevention Plus to provide prevention and intervention to students who are found with a vape or tobacco product. Officials said school will also take its own course of action but the sessions are an extra form of response.
   “I have utilized that already this year,” Parsons said. “It’s not just about punishment; it’s about changing their habits and making them realize how it affects them. It’s another tool we can use to make sure we are helping students rather than punishing them.”
  Murray said the program was another means of helping students help themselves.
  “We had done a workshop in the past to educate students on the dangers of vaping but wanted to reach the students in a different way moving forward,” he explained. “After looking through multiple evidence-based programs, we settled on Vaping Prevention Plus Wellness. What is great about this program is it is very flexible on how you deliver the information. It can be used as a prevention tool and an intervention tool in a group or individual setting.”
  He said vapes have very high levels of nicotine with one pod containing the same as 20 cigarettes. Since the human brain is still developing until age 25 to 26, usage may impact memory, learning and moods while kids will be more susceptible to using other addictive substances later in life. Murray and other prevention educators from the center underwent training this past summer and were certified to implement the program this fall. It is currently being offered to middle and high schools throughout Jefferson County.
  “I have probably talked to over 1,500 students in the past few years about vaping in a group setting. This program has only had one session scheduled one on one but more are being scheduled for the future,” Murray noted. “It’s important to educate students about the dangers of vaping because it can truly hurt them later in life. I always tell them you may not see the effects today or tomorrow, but you may find out the hard way down the road.”
  In addition, he plans to continue QPR Institute suicide prevention training at Buckeye Local and other schools to tackle the issue and help save lives. Murray, who is also a certified QPR gatekeeper trainer, held sessions at BLHS throughout the previous school year and anticipates more trainings this term. QPR, which stands for Question, Persuade, Refer, helps identify people who may be experiencing suicidal ideations and attempts to provides tools to assist people in crisis. Sessions include videos, a detailed PowerPoint presentation and various situational exercises on how to respond, plus refresher courses may be conducted every one to two years.
  “I will be doing QPR sessions again this year. My goal is to reach 500 students and community members by the end of June of 2022. I believe we are going to start at Buckeye very soon and train all members of the student council. I am very excited to continue this program in Jefferson County.”
  Murray has worked with BLHS since 2017 and cited Parsons as key to bringing programs to the school.
  “He has always been very open to our program, so I definitely owe him a lot of gratitude and I always look forward to serving Buckeye.”
North’s Abuzz about Bees
Posted 10/20/2021 at 10:10:16 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
North Honeybees
Students in Heather Long’s second-grade science class at Buckeye North Elementary got a closer look at the lives of honeybees. The class completed standards-based activity pages and got a taste of honey and pollen. The culmination of their studies was to look into a real hive and view the honeycomb, capped honey and pollen brought into the hive by some local bees. Pictured taking a gander are, from left, Zeus Kuprowicz, Rhonda Pethel, Kevin Matthews and Brelyn Herring.
BLHS Recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month
Posted 10/8/2021 at 11:50:47 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLHS Hispanic Heritage
CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local High School is recognizing Latin history and culture during National Hispanic Heritage Month.
  Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15-Oct. 15, is celebrated to recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the U.S. and to celebrate Hispanic cultural heritage and Hispanic culture. Hispanic Heritage Week initially was approved by President Lyndon Johnson and expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period. Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point because it is the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16, 18 and 21, respectively. The observance helps highlight what it means to be Latino and their influence on the American culture. Activities are being spearheaded by teacher Bonnie Soos’ Spanish IV students, who also created a hallway display following this year’s theme of “Music Mania.”
   “During this time period, we recognize the contributions of the Hispanic Americans to the United States and to celebrate Hispanic heritage and culture,” she added. “This year, we are focusing on music. Each one of my classes is involved and each day we listen to two songs in Spanish.  Each song is from a different Spanish-speaking country and there is a total of 21 countries with the U.S. making 22 because of its large Spanish-speaking population.”
   Soos said students will vote digitally for their favorite tune via a Google Form and the winning song moves on to the next phase similar to March Madness for college basketball.
   Meanwhile, the entire school will herald National Hispanic Heritage Week on Oct. 11-15 with different events. Each day, students may dress up for Lazy Lunes (Lazy Monday) in school-appropriate sweats and pajamas; Matching Martes (Matching Tuesday) by twinning in identical duds and coordinating colors with a Hispanic country’s flag; Marvelous Miercoles (Marvelous Wednesday) by dressing as a superhero; Yee-Haw Jueves (Yee-Haw Thursday) with a choice of dressing preppy in bowties and dresses or donning camouflage, flannels and boots; and Vivid Viernes (Bright Friday) with freshmen wearing yellow, sophomores going green, juniors in orange, seniors in pink and teachers adorned in their homeroom colors. Former senior homeroom teachers are also encouraged to wear pink hues.
   Events also include daily announcements and trivia and members of the student body have a chance to participate in the Music Mania Challenge by voting for their favorite songs. Soos said the tunes should be narrowed down to the top 5 with the final selection announced around the conclusion of the celebration that Friday. She added that the songs are performed in traditional languages which also enrich student learning.
   “I want to mention the benefit of listening to music in the target language.  It is a proven fact that it helps with pronunciation, strengthens listening skills, builds vocabulary and helps connect learned material to real-life situations.”

(Photo Cutline: Buckeye Local High School is marking National Hispanic Heritage Month with displays and ongoing activities led by Spanish IV students. Events run from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 with Hispanic Heritage Week activities set for Oct. 11-15. Pictured with a display are, front from left, Aivri Ruttencutter, Brianna Merkel, Adrianna Blazeski, Rylie White and Hester Lambright. Back: Ethan McHugh, Matthew Scott, Nicholas Kinkus, Mariah Pelkey, Isabella Hepburn and Kirsten Faulkner.)
Buckeye Local Holding Orientations, Open Houses
Posted 8/13/2021 at 12:57:39 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
DILLONVALE-Buckeye Local is preparing for the new school year with orientations and open houses slated at the district’s respective buildings.
  Activities are being held in lieu of the annual Back to School Bash which was put on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Buckeye Local High School has scheduled an orientation at its facilities this week while the elementary schools have events set later this month.
  Buckeye Local Jr. High School in Connorville held festivities on Aug. 12 and incoming seventh-graders received schedules, met teachers and toured the building to become familiar with their new surroundings. BLJHS Principal Jason Kovalski was ready for the new year to begin.
  “I am excited and looking forward to getting back to some normalcy in school and the classrooms,” Kovalski said.
   BLHS has scheduled its 2021 Orientation for Aug. 17 with a mandatory meeting for athletics, band and cheerleading in the Panther Theatre at 5 p.m. Principal Lucas Parsons said one parent must attend in order for students to participate in those activities and coaches will be on hand for athletes and parents to sign in. Additionally, sessions are planned for freshmen in the theatre at 5:30 p.m. followed by sophomores, juniors and seniors at 6 p.m. 
   Buckeye North, South and West Elementary Schools will each hold events on Tuesday, Aug. 24 from 5-7 p.m. with South also conducting a grand opening for the public next month.
   North Elementary Principal Susan Nolan said her school will welcome kids back and parents will be updated on what to expect for the new term.
  “Bus transportation officials will be here for bus routes, schedules and parent information and students and parents can walk through the building,” Nolan commented, saying she was preparing for a return to classes and is optimistic about the upcoming year.
  South Elementary Principal Julie Packer said the number of attendees will be limited at her school’s festivities but another activity is being scheduled for next month.                                                   
  “This open house is for students and one accompanying adult,” she said. “There will be an open house for the public in September.”
   The second event will be held Sept.1 from 5-7 p.m. and the public may view repairs from an August 2020 flooding incident which closed the school and forced students to temporarily relocate to the former St. Joseph Primary School down the street in Tiltonsville. The district spent an estimated $270,000 to repair the building and make it operable once again.
   Meanwhile, West Elementary Principal Jim Rocchi said the Adena site will host a session with students and parents to acclimate them with the school.
   “We are planning to have a brief meeting with all parents to explain daily procedures, have devices available for parents to complete all necessary forms online, pass out supplies which are being supplied by Ascent Resources and permit students and parents to visit their classroom and meet the teachers,” Rocchi added. “Our PTO will have a table set up with information about activities throughout the year and we will have information about our Schoolwide Title I program.”
   He continued that a bus driver will be on hand to answer any questions regarding transportation and students will be permitted to put items in their classrooms or lockers so they won't have to transport it all on the first day of school. Rocchi is looking forward to starting the new year and can’t wait to be reunited with everyone.  
   “I am anxious to see all of our students and staff! We are focusing on growth mindset and positivity this year. We want all students to believe they are capable of achieving whatever they set out to do. With all of the negativity and turmoil in our world today, it is imperative that we be a shining light for our students.”
   Classes will resume at Buckeye Local Schools on Aug. 25.
Spragg Remains a Fixture at West
Posted 6/8/2021 at 12:15:48 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Spragg 89th Birthday
ADENA-West Elementary School Nurse Delores Spragg has been a fixture within the Buckeye Local School District for the past 17 years, so it comes as no surprise when staff and students honored her for her 89th birthday.
  Well, at least Spragg was surprised by the gesture on May 17 as teachers, staff, administrators and pupils gathered in the gym just after the school arrivals and presented her with a commemorative cake and handmade cards. 
  “They called me to the gym and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ and gave me a cake with candles. They also decorated with balloons, cards and signs. As the day went by, the kids wished me a happy birthday,” she said. “It was nice. With everything closed down last year, it was a good thing for everybody. It got us back into a routine of just having some fun.”
   She was moved by the support and said she has enjoyed her time and has no plans to stop anytime soon. Spragg began working in the district in 2004 after spending 30 years on the other end of the spectrum with a nursing home facility.
   She was born and raised in northern Belmont County and found her calling as a nurse after assisting with an ill neighbor while growing up. Spragg graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School in 1950 and Ohio Valley School of Nursing in 1953, plus she went on to earn a degree in administration and social work from Ohio University Eastern in 1981. Spragg also married and raised three children, and her brood has since expanded to include four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She also recalled completing clothing alterations and consulting at nursing homes before being asked to assist with diabetic students in the local school system.
  She has worked with youth from the Shamrocks 4-H Club for six decades and Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church Sunday School for 65 years, where she found she had a knack with children. That proved to be beneficial when she was asked to join Buckeye Local. She eventually filled the post at West and has done everything from treating scrapes from at recess or gym class to providing medication and treatments as well as vision and hearing tests to students. She has led fundraisers for the American Heart Association to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, raising thousands of dollars for the causes. Spragg has also been a part of her church choir and acted as an elder, but her true path has been to serve the children. 
   Principal Jim Rocchi said Spragg has been a mainstay and staff and students alike adore her.
   “Mrs. Spragg is truly one of a kind! Her dedication to our students and passion for nursing is evident through her lifetime of work. She is loved by every student and staff member and is always willing to offer her wealth of medical advice to anyone. We are honored to have Mrs. Spragg tending to our students.”
   Spragg said the time will come to step away, but right now it isn’t in the cards.
   “I feel the Lord is leading me. He’s giving me the knowledge and I have to share it,” she said. “I’d be bored to death if I didn’t do something. I think about retiring but then ask what I would do. I’m the kids’ grandma here and some of them even call me Grandma. I hope they see an older person who is out working and caring. Whenever God tells me to retire, I’ll retire.”
(Photo Cutline: West Elementary School nurse Delores Spragg was surprised by students and staff with a cake and best wishes for her 89th birthday this month. Spragg has been part of the Buckeye Local School District for the past 17 years and has become a beloved figure and grandma by proxy.)
Buckeye Local Inducts NHS Members
Posted 5/26/2021 at 1:08:16 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-The newest members have been inducted into Buckeye Local High School’s National Honor Society following a ceremony in the school theater.
  The program included introductions by district Superintendent Kim Leonard, BLHS Principal Luke Parsons and NHS Advisor Alonna Ackerman, requirements for membership by President Jaina DeMeter and a lighting of the candles representing the four pillars of NHS—scholarship, leadership, service and character—by Vice President Carley Newton, Secretary Whitney Gibbons, Treasurer Anne Takach and Historian Maria Zackey. 
  Twenty-five students were added to the organization during the event and introduced by Gibbons and Young. They include juniors Kaden Bednarek, Cameron Best, Adrianna Blazeski, Kirsten Faulkner, Isabella Hepburn, James Hornyak, Hester Lambright, Brooklyn Lengyel, Brianna Merkel, Ethan McHugh, Mariah Pelkey, Aivri Ruttencutter, Matthew Scott, Brooke Shaffer, Link Szafran, Allison Trekal and Rylie White, plus seniors Alan Burkett, Tyler Donahue, Julia Long, Guiliana Moscato, Brian Palmer, Trenton Phillips, Brock Sempirek and Landyn Walker. 
  Rounding out the current members are Lyndsi Carpino, Abbey Kinyo, Meghan McAleavey, Skylar Muldrew, Noah Meyer, Alyssa Slie, Sierra Sterling, Megan Valuska and Abbey Young. The ceremony concluded with a recitation of the NHS pledge by DeMeter and closing remarks by Ackerman.
   To become a member of the NHS, students must maintain at least a 3.45 GPA, be involved in at least one school activity and maintain a clean disciplinary record. Students are selected based on a point system and earn points by demonstrating outstanding scholarship, leadership, service and character. Holding leadership roles and participating in service to both the school and the community are considered as part of a student's application, as well. 
    Ackerman said the student organization is steeped in community service and managed to carry out a few projects even though they were altered by COVID.
    “Each year, our chapter selects a central goal for our service. This year, our service theme was ‘Coming Together’ with the goal of helping our community heal from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she continued. “Our chapter helped to organize and load school supplies over a three-day period that were distributed to our elementary students. Later in the year, students helped to load lunches onto buses to be distributed to students within the district. They also organized a drive to send out cards to Sienna Hills Nursing Home and Valley Hospice Care Center for Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. In the past, we have volunteered at the Monsters at the Mall 5K, completed a Christmas card drive to send cards to local cancer patients, nursing home residents and veterans and we also held a drive at Valentine's Day last year to donate personal care items to Valley Hospice.”
FCA Blanket Project
Posted 4/29/2021 at 10:50:36 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLHS FCA Blanket Project
Buckeye Local High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes, in cooperation with the Beta Epsilon chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa International, knotted blankets which were donated through The Linus Project to the Urban Mission Ministries Inc. and The Gabriel Project of Wheeling. Pictured are, in front, Belinda Boyce, FCA advisor and ADK Beta Epsilon Chapter president. Back: Brooklyn Lengyel, Jacob Phillis, Corissa Griffith and Carly Long. Not pictured are Cai McKeever, Josey Meddles, Ashley Soos, Jaelee Thompson, Rachel Jarman and Janyah Withers.
Stop the Presses!
Posted 4/29/2021 at 10:46:21 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLHS Stop the Presses
Buckeye Local High School English teacher Belinda Boyce’s class recently read the novel, “A Brilliant Death,” by author, former resident and Buckeye North High School alumnus Robin Yocum. Students completed an assignment associated with the story and created mockups of front pages of the Steubenville Herald-Star, covering the events of the book as reporters might have. The author was so impressed with the project that he planned to post it on his website and Facebook page. Pictured, from left, are students Anne Takach, Brock Sempirek, Brianne Merkel, Megan Valuska, Abby Young, Guilianna Moscato and Maria Zackey with their designs.
Raising Old Glory
Posted 4/12/2021 at 10:10:20 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL North Flag Raising
Britiney Charlton and Lukes Radtka, both fourth-graders at Buckeye North Elementary, raise the U.S. flag outside the school as part of the regular flag patrol procedure. Different students are selected each day to perform the task and Charlton and Radtka were joined by their teacher, Kayla Kalp.
BL Students Earn Rewards for Reading
Posted 4/12/2021 at 10:00:20 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
DILLONVALE-Elementary students in the Buckeye Local School District have shown a love for literacy by taking part in the “Operation--I Like to Read” program.
   Students from Buckeye North, South and West were rewarded after reading hundreds of books outside of the classroom. Among the prizes were Fire 10-inch, high-definition tablets with cases while students reading five or more books received a Barnes & Noble gift card. North Elementary preschooler Zefram Perry read 133 books with his family and earned a tablet and $75 gift card. Other recipients included Michael Romestan, a first-grader who earned a tablet, along with first-graders Tyler Giles, Alia Maderia and Rylan Price, second-grader Luca Maderia and third-grader Scott Neely, who each gained $25 gift cards. Buckeye South kindergarten students Mallory Boughan and Olivia Hopkins received tablets while $25 gift cards went to kindergarteners Megan Bobish, Brooklyn Davis and Trenton Stewart, second-grader Dominic Stewart and sixth-grader Chastity Stewart. Meanwhile, West Elementary first-grader Aiden Call and kindergartener Emmalyn Milliken each won a tablet while preschooler Adrienne Milliken received a $25 gift card.
   Diane McCracken, district Title I parent engagement coordinator, said students had the opportunity to participate in the program during the third nine weeks while parents and adult care providers were also encouraged to take part. In addition to making memories, the practice helps kids learn basic reading skills.
   “The program was designed to strengthen a child’s reading ability,” McCracken added, saying the extended reading program was financed with Title I funding plus community donations. “The reading project reached out to parents through technology and the books in this program were emailed to families in PDF form. The book could be downloaded to a computer, tablet or even a phone and the students had the opportunity to create their own library.”
   She said 43 families read more than 250 books and children gained added literacy skills outside of school.
   “This was extra reading at home, beyond the student’s regular classroom reading assignments. Each student read five books and received a token. The more tokens they received, the better opportunity of winning their own technology device.”
   McCracken continued that the program also afforded her the chance to meet great families while parents and children shared quality time with a book.
   “They worked on reading skills and creating memories while building a love for reading. ‘Operation—I Like to Read’ will now be entitled ‘Operation—I LOVE to Read.’”
BLHS Student Being Published in Anthology
Posted 3/10/2021 at 12:26:18 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Lengyel Being Published
CONNORVILLE- Buckeye Local High School junior Brooklyn Lengyel will see her words in print as the young author is being included in a national publication.
    Lengyel, the daughter of Jeffrey and Jeannette Lengyel of Rayland, will have her original work, “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” appear in “Collection of Voices: A JustWrite Anthology Volume II.” She said it was the first time she has been published and her story follows a detective trying to avenge his mother’s death. 
   Her story was selected after she and members of the high school’s creative writing team participated in a virtual JustWrite Ohio competition on Feb. 13. Lengyel placed 13th in the regional competition last year and received an individual award in Division I, where the top 15 writers are recognized. This year, she placed 17th in Division II during regionals among junior and senior scribes. Lengyel placed in the top quarter of students with that score and qualified for the state contest that will be held virtually on May 22. 
  “The judges of the competition chose which stories would be chosen for publication,” she said. “I’m very excited! Participating in the competition was a very fun experience. The anthology isn’t a very widespread publication, but I’m still very honored to have the opportunity extended to me.”
   Lengyel said she has been writing nearly her entire life and recalls days when she put her imagination on paper in elementary school and would write a story in her notebook rather than pay attention to her teachers.
   “I love how writing gives you a chance to express yourself while also giving you an opportunity to create entirely different worlds and characters,” she added.
   Lengyel credited her creative writing coach, Stephanie Crust, and teammates Anne Takach, Carley Newton, Hester Lambright, Jacob Phillis and Jaina Demeter for inspiring her and also acknowledged her team’s great work during the competition.
   “Both my coach last year [Brianne Poilek] and my coach this year [Crust] helped me immensely in becoming a better writer. My parents also always encouraged my writing, which helped me develop the passion I have for it today.”
    While she enjoys writing, she counts science and math as her favorite subjects and extracurricular activities include technical crew for the school play, Foreign Language Club and Science Club. Lengyel said she plans to study biomedical engineering in college. 
   JustWrite is a regional interscholastic writing competition that works to inspire, praise and build confidence in young writers. The publication date has yet to be announced but the tome will be available for purchase on the JustWrite website at https://www.justwriteohio.org/merchandise.
BLHS Culture Fair Goes Virtual
Posted 3/10/2021 at 9:46:38 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLHS Virtual Culture Fair 2 girls
CONNORVILLE-Buckeye Local High School has taken its cultural celebration online after COVID-19 sidelined in-school plans.
   The Foreign Language Club’s 16th annual International Culture Fair has gone virtual and can be found on YouTube. Advisor Bonnie Soos said students decided to change course since the annual activity could not be held in the school commons and instead opted to host “Pop Culture Around the World” online. The video was released March 5 as the club concluded National Foreign Language Week festivities with daily announcements, themed days, Instagram posts and trivia. 
   “We began meeting virtually in September on a weekly basis to plan the online event. We voted together as a club on the theme and the officers created the guidelines for the projects,” said Soos. “Although the club members missed the in-person interaction, they really enjoyed recording their projects and decorating their display boards. Some created digital presentations.  The kids were bound and determined to have a fair this year, especially the seniors, and I am so proud of each and every one of them. They really put their hearts and souls into the projects.”
   They reported on 16 different countries with highlights including population, major cities, traditions, geography, languages, trends and famous sites and natives plus they incorporated tasty treats from each area in an online cookbook. Co-Presidents Alyssa Slie and Maria Zackey introduced the program while students Carley Newton and Whitney Gibbons covered Canada, Kayden Bednarek and Paige Martin discussed the United States, Abbey Berze and Emily McDiffitt mentioned Mexico, Julia Orban and Lyndsee Malechowski promoted Peru, Kylie Gura featured France, Brooke Bikoski and Renee Slie highlighted the United Kingdom, Corissa Griffith and Gage Cermak spotlighted Scotland, Jasmine Yohe narrated on Norway, Brooklyn Lengyel and Mariah Pelkey talked about Germany, Cai McKeever and Jaelee Thompson reported on Italy, Abigail Meeker, Madison Wilt and Maggie Wilt commented on the Czech Republic, Cassie Burkhead, Haylee Brown, Noah Jock and Pacey Hill promoted Poland, Alyssa Slie, Brock Sempirek, Julia Long explored Greece, Megan Burrier and special guest Supakji Prajnabhakti talked about Thailand, Brianna Merkel, Hester Lambright and Rylie White presented on Japan and Jaina Demeter showcased South Africa. Interactive Media teacher Dan Davis and his class were also involved in the process while students Trenton Phillips and Sempirek were technical coordinators who provided editing and graphic designs. 
  The 80-member club includes in-person and remote students, so making the videos took some creativity while also meeting COVID safety protocols. Students involved in the video said it was different from the traditional fete the club hosts each year, but they wanted to do something since the coronavirus also canceled last year’s event.
  “I think with the situation we were in it turned out really good,” said Phillips. “It came together well. Everyone contributed and there wasn’t a person who didn’t have a hand in the video.”
  “No one could come in last year but we still got to hang out with our friends, so it was equally fun,” said Sempirek. “It was a bit different but we had a good time.”
   “It was fun and different,” added Lengyel.
   “I think it was a great idea,” Zackey commented. “Though we couldn’t meet face to face, we still shared the fair and how wonderful it is.”
   The video has gotten several hundred views and people also have the chance to select the best country and recipe. To view the video, go to https://youtu.be/yPfMkfi5jto.
(Photo Caption: Buckeye Local High School students Abbey Berze and Emily McDiffitt, members of the Foreign Language Club, highlighted Mexico in their video presentation for the 16th Annual International Culture Fair which was posted on YouTube this year after COVID-19 affected in-school festivities. About 16 countries were represented from Canada and Japan to Peru and the United States and include information on government and trends to traditions plus a link to a cookbook featuring a dish from each area.)
BL Student Councils Collect for Urban Mission
Posted 3/3/2021 at 1:23:12 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL Student Council 4 girls donations
CONNORVILLE- The Buckeye Local Jr. and Sr. High School Student Councils did their part to serve the community by collecting items to benefit Urban Mission Ministries Inc. of Steubenville.
   BLHS Student Council Co-Advisor Michael DiCenzo said 46 members participated and gathered $160 in gift cards, personal care items, hats, gloves, socks and other winter items. The event occurred throughout January and items were delivered to the Urban Mission on Feb. 19.
  “This is the first time we have done it,” he said. “The students are always eager to find ways to help people, especially in our local community. When they recognize that there is a need for something, they seek out ways they can help.”
   Members want to continue serving the community but the pandemic has thwarted traditional means of assisting causes. DiCenzo noted that many hands-on projects and events have been canceled due to the inability to social distance but safety protocols were in place for the collection. Students and staff instead were asked to take donations to the school office or one of the student council advisors, which also includes Jenny Lowry and Jennifer Panepucci, to reduce large gatherings and close contact between individuals. 
   “We hope to continue to help the Urban Mission and other organizations that share the students’ goals in the future,” he concluded. “The students want to do a litter cleanup project in the spring and we are in the early stages of planning it.”
(Photo Cutline: The Buckeye Local Jr. and Sr. High School Student Council organizations collected winter items, gift cards and other goods to benefit Urban Mission Ministries Inc. of Steubenville and recently donated them to the community group. Pictured are, from left, BLHS Student Council President Bri Merkel, Vice President Kaydence Kinyo, Secretary Corissa Griffith and Co-advisor Jenny Lowry.)
Modified Plans Eyed for Camp Muskingum
Posted 2/17/2021 at 12:02:07 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
ADENA-Plans are being modified for the annual trek to Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum and even more Buckeye Local students can participate. 
  Buckeye West Elementary Principal Jim Rocchi, a school camp representative, said the coronavirus pandemic halted last year’s event and changed the way this year’s activities will be conducted. A daylong event is being scheduled instead of the usual overnight residential camp so current sixth- and seventh-graders have an opportunity to attend and enjoy Nature’s Classroom in a safe environment. Camp Muskingum is located in Carrollton and organizers said dates are being eyed for this spring, but events will run between 9 a.m.-7 p.m. 
  “The sixth grade is going on one day and we are also sending the seventh grade on a separate day since they did not get to go last year,” said Rocchi, adding that a total of 215 Buckeye Local Jr. High and elementary students are expected to attend.
   He is coordinating local efforts with Buckeye North Principal Susan Nolan, Buckeye South Principal Julie Packer and BLJHS Principal Jason Kovalski and said a candy bar fundraiser will be held to defray costs for the trip. Buckeye Local has been part of Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum for at least a decade and dates this year are being eyed for April and May.
  According to organizers, all programming will take place outside and students will be with their group and one instructor all day. The itinerary includes a day hike featuring creek exploration, geology lessons, tree identification and animal adaptations, as well as a sack lunch provided by the camp, classes, group games and a campfire. The groups are created by the school coordinators and protocols will be enforced, such as social distancing, staggered meal times and usage of masks except when eating. The participating school will also select two classes that all students will take part in and programming sessions can be followed up with a virtual visit from camp instructors. Videos will be created and an instructor available to answer students’ questions.
QPR Training Continuing at Buckeye Local
Posted 2/5/2021 at 12:55:06 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-Staff and students at Buckeye Local High School are getting a special lesson in lifesaving by undergoing a series of training sessions with the Family Recovery Center of Steubenville. 
  Six students and three staff members took part in the first installment of the QPR Institute suicide prevention session on Jan. 22 with more people expected to undergo training on Feb. 5 at 9 a.m. QPR, which stands for Question, Persuade, Refer, helps identify people who may be experiencing suicidal ideations and attempts to provides tools to assist people in crisis. Sessions include videos, a detailed PowerPoint presentation and various situational exercises on how to respond, plus refresher courses may be conducted every one to two years.
  Doug Murray, prevention specialist with Family Recovery Center of Steubenville and a certified QPR gatekeeper trainer, said one person commits suicide every 10.9 minutes across the nation and having QPR training is imperative at a time when people already feel negatively impacted from the effects of COVID-19.
  “I really stress how it comes down to being human and creating hope because when people are feeling hopelessness, you are there to instill hope in their lives,” Murray explained. “I think QPR or any type of suicide prevention or intervention training is very critical now for students, administrators and employees. Anybody could be suffering from mental distress.”
   He said the pandemic has instilled a sense of fear and isolation, anxiety for kids who may return to school and depression in those who may have suffered setbacks from job losses to the ending of relationships. It is also important to be aware of signs since suicide is the 11th leading cause of death for kids aged 10-14 in Ohio.  
  “Kids are already navigating through life, but with the pandemic in the mix it makes it harder.”
   Murray noted that mental distress may also befall adults since they, too, have been impacted by the coronavirus or other factors. For that reason, he said a few warning signs to look for include expressing suicidal threats, prolonged depression, isolation, no desire to live, withdrawing from life and society and anger and irritability. People should look for direct and indirect verbal clues as well as behavioral clues from prior suicide attempts to cutting or self-destructive acts to situational clues ranging from job loss, school expulsion and family problems to loss of relationships and the death of a friend or family member. 
   According to statistics, 37 of Ohio’s 88 counties were above the national average with 15.7 suicides per 100,000 people in 2018. Rural areas show a significantly higher rate while seven out of 10 counties with the highest rate have a population of less than 50,000 people. Murray said the key is to give those in distress some help and hope by simply being there.
  “People who are considering suicide are just looking for a glimmer of hope, and all it takes is someone to ask if they are okay.”
   Murray would like to provide the program in other area school districts and said he feedback he’s received at the previous session at BLHS had been encouraging with people being actively engaged in learning. Meanwhile, BLHS Principal Luke Parsons said the training comes at a critical time and could make a significant difference for someone in need.
  “The students understand the need for the program and are excited to share their experience with the rest of the student body. This program will benefit BLHS now and in the future,” Parsons said. “We are in the midst of a social and emotional nightmare that most people don't understand. Our students are taking the brunt end of COVID and its effects and this program will help students and staff recognize signs that could save a life.” 
  Parsons added that depression, anxiety and loneliness are rampant during teenage years, but what is currently happening in the world creates a perfect storm. Parsons has worked with Murray and the Family Recovery Center in the past and didn’t hesitate to become involved in QPR. 
  “I will do and try whatever to make sure my students have access to the love and support they need. All schools need to reach out to Doug and get this program into their schools,” he concluded.
NHS Sending Valentines to Care Facilities
Posted 2/5/2021 at 12:50:36 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
CONNORVILLE-The Buckeye Local High School National Honor Society is sending a little love to local care facilities, but with a modern twist.
  The organization’s 14 members have undertaken their latest community service project and are collecting Valentine cards for Valley Hospice and Sienna Hills Nursing Home, but the messages will be provided via email to ensure safety under COVID-19 protocols. Advisor Alonna Ackerman said the NHS has done a Christmas card project with the facility in the past, but this marked a first for Valentine’s Day efforts. 
  “Last year, we sent Christmas cards to Sienna Hills, in addition to local veterans and the cancer center at Wheeling Hospital,” she said. “For Valley Hospice, we had collected personal care items to be given to the residents for Valentine’s Day last year. This year, we plan to collect Valentine cards from the NHS and any high school student who wishes to participate. These valentines will be both collected and sent via email to Valley Hospice and Sienna Hills to be distributed to the residents. We did this at Christmas, as well, and were able to send letters to the residents for the holidays.”
  She said the valentine and Christmas letter projects were born from the hearts of very caring students who simply wanted to lift people’s spirits.
   “Each year, we select a service theme and this year’s NHS chose ‘Coming Together.’ It was their goal to reach out to people who have been isolated due to the pandemic and help raise their spirits and feel connected to the community,” Ackerman added. “We also wanted to make sure that we could reach out in a way that would be safe for everyone involved, so after speaking with the facilities, we were able to figure out how to do this electronically.”
   NHS members will collect and proofread submitted valentines plus create their own, while hopes are to generate enough for each of the 18 residents at Valley Hospice and 40 people at Sienna Hills to brighten their day. The cards will be sent in time for distribution on Valentine’s Day.
   “Our NHS members seem really excited about the project and I know they love the idea of putting a smile on someone’s face,” Ackerman commented. “These students have done a great job at thinking of opportunities for service despite the challenges that the pandemic has presented. I could not be more proud to work with such a wonderful group of kids. It truly makes me love my job.”
   The NHS has also assisted with sorting school supplies that the Buckeye Local School District distributed to students this year and hopes to complete one more service project in the spring. Ackerman said she would like to include current members and new inductees in the latter endeavor.
Buckeye Local Holds District Bee
Posted 2/5/2021 at 12:40:44 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
RAYLAND- Buckeye Local Jr. High School seventh-grader Brooke Kovalski earned the top spot at the Buckeye Local School District Spelling Bee held on Jan. 13 at Buckeye Local High School. 
   Kovalski now advances to the Jefferson-Harrison Regional Spelling Bee presented by the Steubenville Herald-Star with a chance to head to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Rounding out the Top 10 contenders were Lyla Navarro of North Elementary, second place; Jack Newell of BLJHS, third; Holden Mentzer of West Elementary, fourth; Sophie Schuetz of BLJHS, fifth; Michael Kovalski of West Elementary, sixth; Kirsten Morgan of BLJHS, seventh; Olivia Takach of BLJHS, eighth; Brayden Carothers of North Elementary, first alternate; and Isabella Hendricks of North Elementary, second alternate.
Posted 1/8/2021 at 3:20:30 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BLJHS Spelling Bee Winner
Buckeye Local Jr. High School seventh-grader Brooke Kovalski won the building’s spelling bee on Dec. 17 and moves on to the district event Jan. 13. Rounding out the school’s top spellers were Kylie Watt, second place; Olivia Takach, third; Madison Zeroski, fourth; Sophie Scheutz, fifth; John Newell, sixth; Natalie Rager, seventh; and Kirsten Morgan, eighth.
BLHS Supports Its Own with No Shave Benefit
Posted 12/15/2020 at 12:21:15 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL No Shave Stevens
CONNORVILLE-Things got a little hairy at Buckeye Local Jr./Sr. High School as male students and teachers sprouted some facial fuzz all in the name of fundraising.
  The school hosted No Shave November from Nov.1-Dec. 1 to support two teachers battling cancer and raised $1,373 in the process. BLHS Principal Luke Parsons said the junior and senior high both participated and it was a great way to help their own.
  “Teachers and students decided to forego their razors for the month and raise money for teachers who are battling cancer. There was no winner or prizes; the prize is simply to give to our own. We just did it for our colleagues,” he said. “This is our first year, but definitely not our last.”
  There was a $40 cost to enter or participants could also have sponsors. Meanwhile, female teachers took part by sponsoring their male colleagues or paying $40 to wear jeans all month. Proceeds benefit educators Toni Gray and Anthony Barsch, who are grateful for the support.
  Gray, who is in her first year as a grade 7-12 MH/ED teacher, said she was both touched and thankful.
  “I can’t tell you what an honor it is to work for bosses that’s continuously go over and above to support and care for their staff.  I’ve been made to feel like a part of a family from staff and administration since I started here, as though I’d always been here,” Gray added. “It’s been nothing but support, compassion and encouragement. I am truly so thankful to work with such wonderful, caring people, both staff and administration.” 
  Barsch, who has taught history for 20 years but is currently on medical leave, was also appreciative of the gesture.
  “I would just like to thank everyone that participated. It’s been a rough year for so many and it means a lot for the students and staff to keep me in their thoughts and to help cover the many insurance co-payments and other expenses during this difficult time.” 
  Meanwhile, Parsons said the school community is close and always strives to lend a hand where needed.
  “We are a tight-knit family at the Buckeye Local School District and giving back to our own is the easiest decision we make each day. In October, money was raised for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it was donated to the No Shave November cause. We go out of our way to support one another personally and professionally. ‘Together, we are Buckeye Local’ isn't just a phrase you see on our walls. It is something we truly believe in here at the building.”
(Photo Cutline: Buckeye Local High School Band Director Bill Stevens was among the male staff and students who sprouted a little facial fuzz for a good cause during No Shave November. The junior and senior high schools banded together to support teachers Toni Gray and Anthony Barsch, who are both battling cancer, and $1,373 to assist them.)
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