A1 A1
Principals speak to school board
  • Updated

One Trigg County Public Schools official lamented the impact of COVID-19 and said he is anticipating the time when schools can resume a sense of normalcy in the classroom.

“We’re looking forward to the point in time when we can do and try to get back to normal as best we can,” Brian Futrell told members of the Trigg County School Board last week.

“We’re trying to get to do that,” he continued. “Hopefully, we’re headed in that direction for not just our school but everyone’s school.”

Futrell, the principal of the Trigg County Intermediate School, spoke during a school board meeting that included a joint session with the principals of the district’s four schools.

The joint meeting took place on Oct. 28 in the multipurpose room of the Trigg County Primary and Intermediate schools and was followed by the board’s regular business.

Futrell and the other principals reported on testing and the recent progress of students and looked ahead to continuing progress following a year or more of the pandemic.

In writing assessments, the intermediate principal noted that 13.6% of his youth were novice and 37.9% were proficient/distinguished, which he said was just a little bit behind the state average.

In 2018-2019, 54.7% of the intermediate youth were proficient and distinguished in reading, Futrell said, compared to 37.6% this past year. In math, 44.9%of students were proficient and distinguished in 2019, with a 21.2 decrease in math this past year.

Futrell noted that there were times when 130 students were not in the building, and he said that face-to-face interaction with the youngsters makes a difference.

Even this year, with students and teachers in and out of the building because of quarantines, there has been an impact in students’ educational progress, he said.

Middle School Principal Amy Breckel told board members that the most important job educators had last year was about keeping track of where the youth were and making sure that they were okay.

“We knew where everyone of our kids was at last year,” Breckel noted. “That was a huge job for our folks, and I can’t say how much I appreciate that.”

She said she knew math lessons were happening last year during COVID-19, social studies lessons were being taught and science content was being presented to kids.

But the principal noted that the data reflects a year that doesn’t necessarily reflect everyone’s best ability at that point in time.

Among Breckel’s TCMS scores from last year, 44.1% of students scored proficient and distinguished, compared to a state average of 44. In 2019, the school had experienced the most growth it had experienced in a while, the principal said, in line with the state average.

In math, the school has experienced its biggest drop, Breckel said, noting that those math scores are concerning.

She said sixth grade took the biggest hit with math, and she noted that the school is trying to provide extra support and interventions.

The principal said the school was above the state average in science at 22.7.

Breckel also noted a bright spot in writing for the youngsters; last year, 44.8% of students were proficient and distinguished in writing, she said, compared to only 19% in 2018-2019.

She shared several strategies her school is pursuing to improve student performance.

Board members during their regular meeting approved construction documents for upcoming projects for the district including the bus garage and fuel pumps, the roof and exterior for Trigg County Middle School and the new multipurpose building and press box.

Among other things, Andrew Owens of Sherman Carter and Barnhart Architects said the state fire marshal is adamant about not having a canopy at the refueling station because of fire concerns, and he said the canopy will be excluded moving forward.

He said the design plans will include additional parking as an alternate, to accommodate parking for staff.

In regard to the middle school, Owens said there have been requests for benches at the school similar to what is at the high school.

He added that, by request, there will be concrete and no grass under that canopy due to concerns about mowing under the canopy.

Owens noted that the roof for the middle school will be similar to the roof that is on the primary and intermediate building.

He said officials are hoping to retain the existing insulation in that roof and “save on that cost” Owens told the board members.

Owens listed four alternates for the multipurpose facility and press box, including making a deductive alternate for heating only, adding concrete to the grassy area behind the press box, adding changing rooms and restrooms on the wrestling and cheerleading side of the multipurpose facility and adding batting cages to the multipurpose/press box.

In other business:

  • The board acknowledged a review of the Kentucky Department of Education’s Crime Prevention through Environmental Design. Owens said this is a checklist the state has to ensure that officials strive to make the buildings as safe as they can be.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.

Bus drivers lauded by retired teachers
  • Updated

Dawn Butler loves driving a school bus.

She enjoys interacting with the students and says it means a lot to think she’s made an impact on the youngsters.

“I like feeling like that I could possibly make a difference in a child even if I just tell them ‘Good morning’ every day,” notes Butler, who is among 52 drivers for the more than 26 buses that make up Trigg County Public Schools’ fleet of buses.

The drivers were recognized last week by the Trigg County Retired Teachers Association, with Association President Brenda Southwick presenting the group with a certificate at the Trigg County Public Schools’ bus garage.

The retired teachers also provided platters of cookies, and Southwick noted that the association appreciates the drivers’ work.

“We’re proud to honor you all,” she said while visiting with them on Oct. 25 at the district’s bus garage. “We think you all are heroes.”

October traditionally includes National School Bus Safety Week, which this year was celebrated from Oct. 18 through Oct. 22.

Additionally, the district recognizes its bus drivers as part of its celebration of National Education Week, the third week in November.

Southwick noted that her association supports five different nonprofits in the community, and she said members wanted to do something special for a school group.

She described the school system’s bus drivers as very dedicated and hard working.

Southwick said this year is the first time the association has recognized the bus drivers.

The district’s 52 drivers transport youth from preschool through high school, with a different route serving the preschool students.

Butler, a driver trainer for the district, says October is a time when she may go into the schools and talk to the preschoolers about how to be safe around school buses and while they are riding on the school buses.

She notes that bus safety is important, and she offers tips for the youth and community.

Students need to be at their pickup location five minutes before the bus arrives, Butler said.

They should be polite once they get on the bus, just as they would in the classroom.

She observes that a driver who is having to keep an eye on the kids from her rear view mirror is not keeping her eyes on the road.

“We just want parents and the public to be aware we’re on the road in the morning and in the afternoon,” said Butler, who reminded people that flashing lights on the buses mean students are being loaded or unloaded.

She noted that bus drivers can have a long-term impact on the students they transport.

Kids remember their teachers, Butler said.

And they remember their school bus drivers too.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.

Today's youth learn lessons of the past
  • Updated

Deborah Bridges scolded the young boy.

He had not brought in wood for the fire or gotten water from the well so that he and his classmates would have something to drink.

But the scolding wasn’t real, and neither was the forgetfulness of the student, who is in Ann Bottoms’ class at Trigg County High School.

Instead the exercise was a lesson about the past, about what it was like to be a student in a classroom decades ago in the community.

“We believe when citizens are knowledgeable about the hardships in the past and how our ancestors overcame them, it gives us strength and courage to push through barriers and solve problems today,” noted Linda Wood, the secretary of the Trigg County Historical and Preservation Society that hosted the recent living history program.

Bottoms’ students took part in the program on Oct. 22 at Southern Academy, the historical society’s one-room schoolhouse that is near Wildcat Chevrolet.

Wood said the schoolhouse is original to Trigg County, and she explained that the society has a memorandum of agreement with Trigg County Public Schools to teach youth about the county’s history.

Through the partnership, the society works to show today’s youngsters what life was like in the past, how basic it was and how hard people had to work to survive every day.

Its members also hope the students come to realize “how we stand on the shoulders of our elders and how grateful we should be for the comfort and convenience we have today,” Wood said of the historical society’s efforts.

She noted that healthy communities take good care of their children, and she said the historical society enjoys being a part of that effort and is always ready to support the education of its local schoolchildren.

Twenty youngsters from Bottoms’ class took part in the recent program, learning about the curriculum and daily schedules for students in the 1800s and early 1900s; those earlier students attended one-room schools that offered classes for grades one to eight.

They were expected to bring water in from the well every morning and to get the fire going in the potbelly stove that sat in the middle of the classroom. The youngsters recited the Pledge of Allegiance, memorized Bible verses and sang hymns to start each school day.

They brought their lunches to school and would share their food with each other.

Some children had to go outside and water and tend to the horses they rode to school, and bathroom breaks also brought the youngsters outdoors — especially when their schoolhouses had no outhouses.

Bridges, a retired teacher and member of the society’s board of directors, explained to Bottoms’ students that most schoolhouses had one outhouse for boys and a second for girls. But she also noted that in instances when there were no outhouses, the students had to go behind the bushes to use the bathroom.

Dressed in vintage clothing, Bridges presented the program to the youth, and one of Bottoms’ students got an opportunity to assist Bridges with her presentation.

After Bridges pretended to scold him for not bringing in the water and firewood, the young boy explained to her that he had so many chores to do at home and didn’t have time to do his chores at school too.

“He was a natural!” Wood said of the student.

Bottoms said she wanted her students to learn about the history of education in Trigg County, and she noted that they learned “so much” from their visit to the schoolhouse.

“They had an outstanding time and were really excited as they shared what they learned,” Bottoms said of follow-up conversations about their field trip.

The teacher said she’d like to return to the schoolhouse in the spring so the youth can ask questions, tour the schoolroom and look at the grounds outside the school.

Additionally, she said she hopes to make the visits to the school an annual occasion.

Wood said Bottoms is welcome back.

“We are excited to support her and our schools and look forward to other visits,” said Wood, who noted that the students were extremely respectful and listened intently to the presentation given by Bridges.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.

Court approves contract with PADD
  • Updated

Trigg County Fiscal Court is entering into a contract to provide new voting and magisterial reapportionment maps for the county.

The court on Monday approved on first reading an ordinance that will allow the Pennyrile Area Development District to provide magisterial reapportionment and voting precinct redistricting maps and analysis.

The court or another county official will use the maps to submit information to the state.

Among other things, PADD will provide mapping software and redistricting tools, produce magisterial districts and voting precincts and provide a copy of registered voters from the state Board of Elections, according to information in the ordinance.

The ordinance will be approved on second reading at a future meeting of the fiscal court.

Magistrates also approved on second reading the ordinance granting Mediacom non-exclusive rights to operate its cable system in the county. That ordinance still allows opportunities for other companies to operate in the county, Trigg County Judge-Executive Hollis Alexander said earlier.

In other business:

  • The judge-executive said chipping and sealing on county roads is complete.
  • He also said Rogers Group is paving four roads, including Old Hopkinsville and Riley Hollow roads, and will finish those this week.
  • The court approved expenditures that included $2,041.20 to Harp Enterprises Inc., for an election services contract, $8,607.88 to Rogers Group for road materials and $45 to Sprint Print Inc., for business cards.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.

Trigg murder suspect found
  • Updated

A Trigg County murder suspect who did not show up for a court appearance earlier this year has been located and as of last week was awaiting extradition back to Kentucky.

James W. Gentry Jr. of Hopkinsville was taken into custody Friday in San Diego, California, by U.S. marshals, according to a press release from Kentucky State Police.

A resident of Hopkinsville, Gentry was charged with murder and other charges in Trigg County and was scheduled to be in Trigg County Circuit Court on July 27.

He removed his ankle monitor however.

Gentry’s charges included murder, robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.