Time to build St. C.

Dear Editor,

It is a great honor and privilege to be a social studies teacher at St. Clairsville High School. During my 14 years of service, I have witnessed many changes in state curriculum and testing requirements, along with the expansion and addition of many programs and opportunities offered to the students in our district that did not exist when I first began my teaching career in 2004.

In the past, high school students were required to take the Ohio Graduation Test. The OGT was completed as a traditional paper and pencil test and covered minimum standards for graduation. Currently, high school students are taking the AIR end of course exams, which are more challenging, have multiple parts, and are computer-based. St. Clairsville High School has one computer lab that can be used for state testing, so many of our students complete their tests on Google Chromebooks, which are similar to small laptops or iPads. Although the students have practice using these Chromebooks in many of their classes and are great with technology, the Wi-Fi capability within the buildings often cause their computers to freeze or even turn off during testing. Reading questions on small screens can be more challenging and stressful compared to paper tests or even bigger, desktop computers. This year, St. Clairsville High School students made an exceptional amount of progress in all tested areas; in fact, our test scores in the high school were the highest in Belmont County in five areas and the second highest in the other two. Our students do extremely well, but imagine how well they would do if they were taking these tests in proper computer labs with bigger screens and better technology. Keep in mind, many of our surrounding area schools are already using this technology now.

During my second year of teaching at St. Clairsville High School, we started the first psychology class. The psychology program started with one small class in 2005 and has expanded to five classes with 125 students in 2018. In the past five years, we have also added sociology, economics and financial literacy to our social studies high school program. In the last few years, the English Department has added ACT prep, creative writing, graphic novel, sports literature, and drama. The Science Department has added upper level chemistry, physics and anatomy programs. Our partnership with the Belmont Career Center has expanded to add business marketing, entrepreneurship, movie making and video production, web design, architectural design and construction technologies. Although we have many more classes and programs that did not exist a few years ago, we are limited in adding even more programs for our students because we have no empty classrooms or space in any of the three buildings. As our student population continues to grow, we need more classrooms, and we need bigger classrooms that can accommodate the size of our classes and continued expansion of our academic programs.

The College Credit Program that we now offer provides students with an early jump on earning college credits through accredited universities such as Akron University and Ohio University Eastern. I am very proud of all the programs and options that we currently offer, and I believe that we are preparing students for college more than ever before. I can only imagine how much more we would be able to offer in a bigger building with more classrooms or lecture halls. This would give the students the ability to earn an associate degree through CCP while also graduating from St. Clairsville High School.

It has been 14 years, and I have seen so many changes to our school, to our district and to education in general. I am proud of the progress that we have made, but I am also frustrated because of the limitations imposed on teachers and students due to the old buildings and lack of technological capabilities. Now is the time for even greater progress! Say “yes” to the future! Let’s BUILD ST. C!

Ann Jeffries

St. Clairsville

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