Alleghany Highlands Public Schools prepares for first day as one district

Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 10:51 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COVINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - Alleghany Highlands Public Schools are getting ready for the first day of classes on Wednesday as one district.

All the students in Alleghany County will now be going to one middle school, one high school or one of four elementary schools.

The consolidation plan has been years in the making, and AHPS teachers emphasized that Wednesday will be a fresh start for everyone.

Around 600 students will walk through the doors of Covington Middle School on Wednesday, formerly Covington High School. The middle school’s math teacher explained combining students from Alleghany, Covington and Clifton Forge under one name will give them more educational opportunities.

“We’ve got this great new Cougar nation, and we’re excited,” Debbie Rusmisel said. “We’re ready to go.”

Rusmisel explained she predicts the biggest adjustment will be learning the way to get to class.

“I know our students are very concerned about the layout of the building, not sure where their classes are and they’re worried about being late to class,” Rusmisel said. “Most of us are new to this building as well, so we’re going to learn with you. Don’t stress about it.”

Alleghany High School’s PE teacher and coach explained he is confident his high school students will handle the learning curve.

“We don’t have a gym available, they’re doing construction, so that won’t be available till November or December,” Seth Davis said. “We’ll just have to make some adjustments using some baseball facilities, and football practice fields [for gym class].”

Parent Rachel Thompson explained the consolidation is a benefit for children’s social learning.

“The students have already tried to come together. When they had the last rivalry games last year, they began shouting the chant ‘Alleghany Cougars’ together,” Thompson said. “I think that the students are honestly leading the way in what it should look like for everyone.”

Thompson is a mom to three children in elementary school. She explained her fifth grader is looking forward to having the same classmates heading into middle school next year.

“It certainly gives the parent peace of mind to know that your kids are excited and happy about the upcoming school year,” Thompson said.

School officials have previously stated the consolidation has helped address some of the ongoing teacher shortages that many school districts are facing.