Teachers to Hear ‘Gunfire’ in School

Teachers in three Ohio County schools get the opportunity Friday to hear what gunfire within a school facility sounds like when the district participates in the Operation Safe Schools Initiative.

OSSI team members will speak with teachers and staff and conduct “advanced level noise expose demonstrations” beginning at 10 a.m. at Wheeling Park High School, 11:30 a.m. at Triadelphia Middle School and 1 p.m. at Wheeling Middle School, Superintendent Dianna Vargo told Ohio County Board of Education members Monday night. The demonstrations were set for a day when students would be off, and teachers would be present for instructional support and enhancement sessions.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia William J. Ihlenfeld II approached Ohio County Schools about participating in Operation Safe Schools, she said. Members of the OSSI team include law enforcement agents with the FBI, the West Virginia State Police and the Jefferson County, West Virginia Sheriff’s Department.

The OSSI team works with educators to improve their reaction time and decision-making in the event of hearing gunfire within their facility. Blank ammunition will be fired within the school so they will know what it sounds like, and guns used will be a .45-caliber handgun, a .223-caliber assault rifle and a 12-gauge shot gun – all weapons used in past shooting incidents within American schools. The demonstration is expected to take 15-20 minutes, and an additional 30 minutes is being allowed for discussion time with teachers.

Vargo said additional OSSI visits will be scheduled for other Ohio County schools in the coming months, and the demonstrations are conducted at no cost to the school district.

In other matters, board members recognized WPHS senior linebacker Geremy Paige for being the school’s first winner of the West Virginia Sports Writer’s Association’s Huff Award

“I remember (Paige) stepping into Wheeling Park High School as a freshman, and we all had high hopes for Geremy,” Wheeling Park Athletic Director and Vice Principal Dwaine Rodgers said. “He did not let us down. … It’s almost the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy at the high school level. It’s a very, very special award, and we are honored to have one of our own Wheeling Park High School students achieve that award.”

Coach Chris Daugherty noted Paige has a 3.3 GPA, and had approached him when he was a freshmen to indicate his interest in someday playing Division 1 college football.

“He has done a great job working in the classroom … he’s taken the ACT and passed those classes … he’s ready for Division 1,” Daugherty said. “We also asked him to be a leader. … He’s manned up and done all those things. It takes more than talent. There are a lot of talented kids out there, but you have to do all the extra things. He did all the extra things.”

Paige thanked the community for its support of the WPHS football team.

“I know it was a long season – I’m sad it ended so early, though,” he said. “I thank you for coming to all the games in the cold and traveling.”