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Educators Urge Encouragement, Acknowledge Opportunities

ZellichMADISONVILLE, Ky. (10/3/13) – The state of education in Hopkins County is moving upward, according to the speakers at a Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce Hot Topic luncheon Thursday at the Ballard Center in Madisonville.

Speakers Kevin M. Stockman, principal of Dawson Springs High School, Madisonville Community College President Dr. Judy Rhoads, Murray State University Dean of Continuing Education Dr. Brian Van Horn and Hopkins County Superintendent of Schools Linda Zellich told the audience about programs, initiatives and advancements within each of their respective systems.

Zellich acknowledged the advancement of testing scores for Hopkins County Central High School after the school was identified as needing improvement by the state two years ago.

She also acknowledged that there are always setbacks when trying to move forward.

The abandoned career and technology center structure along the Pennyrile Parkway is an obvious example of a plan gone wrong, Zellich said.

"It was to be a beautiful career and technical school," she said. "There is still hope that there will be a beautiful career and technical school. It will not be on that site."

Zellich said that while the situation is undesirable, the school officials have to deal with it.

"Like I told my administrative team, 'That hurts,'" she said. "But you have to stand up and take the belly punches that come with it, but it's not going to knock us out.'"

Zellich said announcements will be forthcoming about the future of the school system's career and technical center.

"I think it's safe to say that we've had a positive meeting with (Kentucky Utilities)," she said. "A lot of things are going to have to transpire before we can release a lot of information to the public."

Regarding student education, Zellich thanked the business community for helping encourage education in Hopkins County. She recommended encouraging parents to focus on their children's educations.

Rhoads told the audience that the employment and economic future of Hopkins County is going to be impacted by continued education.

"The good news is, the educational level is rising," said Rhoads.

Rhoads said the number of enrollees at MCC is up to 4,400 and that those enrolled in distance learning is 2,175. She also noted that the 50-50, male-female student ratio has shifted to 62 percent female enrollees.

She said MCC's collaboration with Murray State University has enabled more degrees to be attained through locally and with more online classes.

Horn said the connection with Hopkins County through MCC has made four-year degrees more accessible for students in western Kentucky.

Stockman read a letter drafted by the 2014 Dawson Springs High School senior class during his presentation.

The letter acknowledged Dawson's academic and athletic achievements and thanked community members from Hopkins County for supporting education.

"In an era of consolidation, we have not only survived but (also) thrived," Stockman read.

Rita Dukes Smith
SurfKY News

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