KEYSER - Primary and middle school students returning to the classroom Thursday were surprised to see a crowd of police officers, firefighters, EMS and other community representatives waiting to greet them.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Primary and middle school students returning to the classroom Thursday were surprised to see a crowd of police officers, firefighters, EMS and other community representatives waiting to greet them.
Coordinated by the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce and superintendent Shawn Dilly, the “Welcome Back to Students” project was designed to bring the students, teachers, staff members and community together in a celebration of the beginning of a brand new school year.
The event was also designed as an opportunity for the students to meet some business people and professionals from their area and learn about what they do.
“We are adapting the old Army slogan ‘Be all that you can be’ because it is extremely fitting for West Virginia's need to cultivate more entrepreneurs, trades-persons, and workplace artisans,” said John Lecky, chamber president who coordinated the county-wide effort.
“‘We want you to be all that you can be right here!’ says we can work to reverse the brain drain and West Virginia population loss by switching our focus on education. Nothing less than being on par with college track emphasis, our career focus this morning and going into this new school year will give first priority to this equally important ‘certification track’ of education, showing the options at the earliest ages.
“Almost all of what the kids saw this morning was non-college-necessary career workers, by design.
“This today will be followed up in September by interfacing the principals' students with the Mineral County workers they want to know more about, first in the school setting. Then in October, the kids really motivated to learn will be offered the opportunity to do site visits where the people they think they desire to emulate work.
“Bottom line: career awareness for primary, career exploration for middle, all with community support by actual Mineral County workers (Chamber of Commerce folks) that the kids get to know,” Lecky said.
Schools involved in Thursday’s special program were Frankfort Intermediate School, Keyser and Frankfort middle schools, as well as Burlington, Elk Garden, Fountain, New Creek and Wiley Ford primaries.
Neither Keyser or Fort Ashby primary was able to open Thursday, due to electrical problems at Keyser and construction delays at Fort Ashby.
Keyser Primary opened on Friday however, and a group of community members was waiting on the students when they arrived.
 Students at Fort Ashby Primary will have a similar greeting awaiting them on Monday.