Harlan County school board recognizes student achievements

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

The Harlan County School Board took the time to recognize several students for their achievements during the board’s August meeting.

Board chairman Gary Farmer called on Superintendent Brent Roark to recognize the students early in the meeting.

“We’ve got several student awards this afternoon,” Roark said. “We appreciate the families for bringing these students out.”

The first award went to students Plez Dean and Shania Middleton, who participated in the Center for Rural Development’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program, Roark said.

“The program is an intensive weeklong program focused on developing creativity, teamwork, business and leadership skills,” Roark said.

Roark called Dean up to give his thoughts on the experience.

“I really enjoyed the time there,” said Dean. “I would recommend it to anyone who has any interest in entrepreneurship. While we were there, we got to meet a variety of leaders in different businesses as well as toured places like production plants that produce various parts for bigger companies like Toyota and Honda and an agriculture facility where we got to see how they manage and package their produce. Overall, it was a really great experience.”

Middleton also told the board her thoughts on the activity.

“We got to work with a lot of entrepreneurs and saw their everyday life and the components of what they do to be successful,” she said.

The board also recognized Harlan County High School Senior Jacob Shoemaker for his participation in the Governor’s Scholars Program.

“It’s one of the biggest honors in the state to be selected as a Governor’s Scholar,” Roark said.

Roark explained the Governor’s Scholars Program is a five-week program.

“You were always learning something new,” Shoemaker said. “That was a big thing. It was a community. Everyone there loved to learn. Everybody wanted to learn. Everybody was excited to learn. It is exactly the opportunity people from here need because you meet people from outside of Harlan. You get different perspectives on things.”

HCHS Junior Claire Sawyers was recognized for participating in the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar (HOBY) over the summer at Berea College.

“HOBY has changed my perspective on life, how I view the world, and myself,” Sawyers said. “I view the world as a beautiful environment, filled with change and a ferocity for learning…I could not imagine my future without the opportunities and lasting friendships given to me by HOBY.”

Roark also updated the board on ongoing projects in the district during his report.

“The HVAC project is the biggest thing we’ve had going for the last few months,” Roark said. “All the inside work is done. There are still…23 rooftop units that still have to be placed. The inside work is done…the only things that aren’t functional right now are the gym at Rosspoint and the gym at Wallins.”

Roark said the HVAC project will be completed very soon. He also mentioned recent work on the district’s cafeterias.

“The cafeterias look awesome,” Roark said. “The new floors, new paint on the walls, new stuff in the back, the cafeterias are outstanding.”

Roark also mentioned work is progressing on the primary playgrounds at the Cumberland and Rosspoint schools.

In other board activity:

• Roark advised the board enrollment numbers in the district have increased.

• Roark advised SRO coverage in the district is at 100 percent.

• The board approved a motion leaving the district’s motor vehicle tax rate unchanged at .464 cents per $100 of assessed value.

• The board approved a motion leaving the district’s property tax rates unchanged at .548 cents per $100 of assessed value.