Brooke unveils library upgrades

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Board of Education used its regular meeting Monday to showcase recent renovations to the Brooke High School library.

Jim Piccirillo, the board’s president, noted the renovations include new furniture, shelving and carpet, the latter replacing carpet that was installed when the school was built 43 years ago, with still more improvements to come.

Allison Cavallo, the school’s librarian, said once some electrical work is completed, students will be able to use 30 flatscreen computers for writing and research. As with other computers used at the school, a system will be in place to ensure students can’t access inappropriate content, she said.

Cavallo said the improvements also include a link between the school’s computer “card catalog” and those of the county’s two middle schools, so students and staff can learn what books and other materials are available at the other schools.

She hopes the school libraries can establish a link to the Brooke County Public Library’s database in the future.

The library also has acquired 3,500 new fiction and non-fiction books and an area for the school’s pre-school program, where story hours will be held.

Cavallo said there also are plans to add two whiteboards, a modern computer-aided version of the blackboards of old; and a mobile computer lab, with about 30 laptop computers that may be checked out by students and used elsewhere in the school building.

“The kids are really excited. They can’t wait for the library to open,” she said.

The improvements are being funded with school funds and a portion of $661,955 received by the school board for leasing up to 189 acres of school property for natural gas drilling.

The lease was entered with the agreement that no wells be established on the property.

Piccirillo praised Rob Robinson, the school district’s facilities supervisor; his maintenance crew and the school’s custodians for their skill and hard work in making the improvements, which also included repainting the library.

He also thanked Cavallo, “who worked so hard to design this new library. She has spent hundreds of hours clearing shelving and indexing books with the help of students earning community service credit. Without her effort, this beautiful renovation would have never transpired.”

Piccirillo said, “When Brooke High School was designed, there was no question the library would be in the center of this building and used daily for the education of Brooke County students. We are very proud to continue that tradition.”

In other business, the board:

Heard from Jason Cuomo, chairman of the newly formed Brooke High School Wall of Excellence Committee.

Formed by Principal Toni Shute, the group plans to recognize Brooke graduates who have distinguished themselves academically, in the arts or community service or through another outstanding contribution.

Pending the school board’s future approval, plans call for the honorees to be invited to speak briefly at Brooke High School’s academic achievement awards program, where students receive pins for consistently attaining an outstanding grade point average; and honored at a dinner beforehand.

Cuomo said their names are to be displayed at the library, where he hopes they will demonstrate to the school’s students they can go on to do great things.

Piccirillo said Brooke graduates for some time have been recognized for athletic accomplishment and Brooke school employees have been honored through the board’s own wall of fame. He said the academic hall of fame is long overdue.

Also voicing support for the Wall of Excellence were former Brooke High School principal Tony Paesano and former Brooke head football coach Paul “Bud” Billiard.

Accepted the resignations of Brian Cerullo and Denis Joseph Palcic, coaches for the Brooke High School boys soccer team.

The resignations were submitted following an investigation by school officials of the hazing of a freshman soccer player by two other players, but Kidder said the two coaches weren’t present during the incident, which occurred before practice, and weren’t held responsible.

Cerullo and Palcic couldn’t be reached for comment.

Asked about the students involved, Kidder said disciplinary action has been taken against the two but state policy prohibits her from giving their names or stating the action taken.

She and other school officials also haven’t disclosed the nature of the hazing.

Kidder said with just two games left in the team’s season, the decision has been made to keep Sean Beaman as its coach, a position he was to fill temporarily. She said Beaman has been assisted by Lee Weppler, head coach of the girls soccer team; and former soccer coach Elias Hannaoui.

The board approved the hiring of Anthony Pepe as a Spanish teacher at Follansbee Middle School; Samantha McCoy as a kindergarten teacher at Colliers Primary School; Michelle Casto as an autism mentor at Hooverson Heights Primary School; Kelli Smith as a bus aide; Jessica Currence and Katelyn Childers as substitute teachers; Tina Stasiowski and Robin James as substitute aides; and Stacy Caruso and Carmen Johnson as substitute custodians.

It also approved the transfer of Jeff Blundon as a reading/literacy interventionist at Wellsburg Primary School from a special education position at Follansbee Middle School, with Piccirillo abstaining because Blundon is his nephew.

It also accepted the resignations of Susan Cullinan, who is retiring as art teacher at Hooverson Heights Primary School; Rachel McCombs as assistant girls basketball coach at the high school; and Guy Jackson as a part-time food truck driver.

Announced its next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at Beech Bottom Primary School, where it will hear school improvement reports from the school and others.

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