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Consolidation offers new opportunities

Things change. Sometimes -- believe it or not -- for the better.

All too often, we equate "bigger" with "bad." We have a tendency to stamp a negative connotation on the concept of "modernization."

Such is the case with school consolidation.

Critics bemoan the creation of these large educational facilities. They say consolidated schools lack the family-type environment of smaller schools. They also claim that larger schools stifle close teacher involvement, and result in less student participation and longer travel times.

And for the most part, they're right.

The intimacy that smaller schools offer cannot be argued against -- it's a nice thing. It would also be a nice thing to shop at the local general store, live in a town where everyone knows your name and not have to lock your doors at night.

But society -- at least since the dawn of civilization -- has had a tendency to move forward. It doesn't simply stagnate.

Are there good things that are lost with consolidated schools? Absolutely. But the overall picture that seems to be arising from these facilities is a positive one.

The largest consolidated school in Harrison County -- Robert C. Byrd High School -- is a good example. At more than 940 students, it likely can't offer the level of personal attention that smaller schools can.

What it does offer are numerous opportunities and a wide range of classes, including music, drama, art and microbiology. The West Virginia Department of Education recently honored the school as a School of Excellence.

The whole thing sounds suspiciously like a success.

Whenever something new is implemented, or a step forward is taken, another small piece of the puzzle is often lost.

If there were some way to maintain that personal educational environment and at the same time create bigger schools that offer students more opportunities, that would be great. But there is no scenario in the world in which every aspect is perfect.

Sometimes the positive of a situation far outweighs the negative. When it comes to the consolidation of schools, that clearly seems to be the case.

Kevin S. Courtney

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