A large gathering attended the celebration at the Jackson River Sports Complex in Covington for the consolidation of Covington City Schools and Alleghany County Public Schools on Thursday, June 30.
Superintendent of Alleghany County Public Schools Kim Halterman and Covington City Schools Superintendent Melinda Snead-Johnson welcomed those present after the first set of music was performed by Fender Benders, a trio of musicians and vocalists from the Alleghany Highlands.
Pastor Stephanie Clark sang the “National Anthem” and followed singing by leading the gathering in prayer during which she asked God to bless all concerned with the new school system and to bless all the athletic teams with winning seasons.
Dr. John Rainone, president of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, noted that just as the two school districts will officially become the Alleghany Highlands Public Schools on July 1, the community college will be renamed Mountain Gateway College on July 1, and he congratulated all those who contributed to bringing about consolidation and noted that he is honored to be a part of the changes being made.
Glenn Spangler, director of the Jackson River Technical Center, said that he has been accustomed to working with students from both school systems and looks forward to continuing working with students from the new combined school system.
Both Halterman and Snead-Johnson thanked all concerned and pledged their support to continue working to make the transition go smoothly, and both recognized the new school board members.
Covington Mayor Tom Sibold attended the celebration as an observer rather than a speaker, and he praised all concerned in the process that brought the two school systems together via an agreement to consolidate.
Sibold remarked, “It’s been a long time in coming.”
He continued, “Now that this important step has been taken, hopefully our young people will have more educational opportunities.”
Allen Dressler, Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation for the City of Covington, offered, “For one who has been involved with our kids for the past 30 years, I look forward to our kids getting together.”
He added, “I feel comfortable that there will continue to be good teachers who will help our kids in the future.”
The Fender Benders featured Steve Thrasher, guitar; Bink Jenkins, guitar; and Jeff Dudley, guitar. The three are vocalists, and they noted that while they had played in different bands together, that their performance represents the birth of their new trio.
Following the ceremony and the speakers’ remarks, the Fender Benders began their second set.
A face painting table was set up at the celebration, and fireworks concluded the festivities that an estimated crowd of 400 had gathered to celebrate the occasion.
Vendors were present at the celebration, and the concession stand served free food and drink for the first visit.
Also, a Time Capsule Document Signing at a table was held for the formation of the Alleghany Highlands Public Schools with a free chance to win prizes for each person who signed.