ROMNEY — As a result of being named one of only 12 statewide 21st Century Model High Schools that Work, Hampshire High will experience a complete transformation within the next five years by implementing rigorous academics, enhanced technology and a ninth-grade orientation camp.

Superintendent of Hampshire County Schools Cynthia Kolsun is particularly excited about the news because it’s showing the State Department of Education that county students are “really moving forward.”

“We were already determined that we wanted the curriculum to be more rigorous, but it wasn’t until June that we received notification from the state department,” said Kolsun, adding that besides Hampshire, Hedgesville was the only other high school located in the Eastern Panhandle of the state that received the honor. “They looked at the high school criteria. We already had a lot of things in place. They liked the way we put major emphasis on numeracy and literacy.”

With this distinction begins an extensive process of actualizing several goals for continuous improvement based on the Southern Regional Education Board from Atlanta.

Some of these goals include: All students leaving high school having met the standards for a College Readiness and/or Work Readiness Credential, improve students’ transition from the middle grades to high school and increase to 90 percent the number of high school students who enter grade nine and complete high school four years later.

A mini ninth grade orientation academy was recently held with one slated for next week where students entering the ninth grade will receive specialized attention prior to the big transition.

Next year, a full-fledged academy is scheduled for all entering freshman to counteract the state and national statistic that 25 percent of ninth-graders fail at least one course.

Like middle school, incoming students will be assigned to teams of teachers who will collaborate and plan together to keep students on track their first year.

In addition, students will be assigned to an adviser who will be available for assistance.

Getting a jump start on the “rigorous academics,” several advanced placement and college courses have already been implemented into the high school curriculum for the upcoming school year.

“The curriculum is becoming so much stronger,” said Kolsun. “We are looking at the viewpoint of preparing students to enter college or the work force.”

Kolsun added students will have access to several more math, science and technology-based classes.

As for the implementation of technology in the classroom, the board of education agreed to commit $10,000 annually to fund professional development teacher training.

To manage these goals, a committee comprising staff and faculty will meet regularly to determine what direction they want to travel and will submit an annual progress report marking their steps of advancement.

Principal Bill Cotrill, who’s been working at Hampshire High since December, feels “quite honored” to be named a 21st century school.

“It’s a tremendous honor for us to be heading into the 21st century and being selected out of all the schools in West Virginia,” said Cotrill. “With that honor, comes a lot of hard work and dedication to the program — a movement which I think we can do and will help us to band together.”

Future projects within the program include a credit recovering program where students will receive a second chance to pass a class prior to graduation, a school-wide reading program where all students will read 25 books (magazines or trade journals) annually and the implementation of a senior project requiring 100 percent senior involvement.

“We are going to see students stepping up, but that’s only going to take place if we have good teachers, which we do,” said Kolsun. “We don’t want to be just a good school or a great school, we want to be the best high school in the state.”

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Bobbie L. Carpenter can be reached at

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