Tri-County North talks alumni engagement, mask mandates

By Anthony Baker - [email protected]

LEWISBURG — Tri-County North Local School District board members and administrators discussed CDC guidelines, student and alumni engagement and ongoing construction projects during their regular monthly meeting Monday, July 19.

Superintendent Bill Derringer updated the board on the status of current health mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in 23 Ohio counties resume wearing masks indoors, citing increased spread of new variants of the coronavirus. The CDC currently rates the spread of COVID-19 in Preble County as “substantial,” with 24 cases reported in the last week and approx. 33 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

“The CDC’s throwing around guidelines and things of that sort,” Derringer said, indicating that he and other local superintendents would be meeting with Preble County Public Health officials in the coming week.

Guidance from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office, meanwhile, indicates that school officials are not allowed to ask whether students and staff have been vaccinated, according to Derringer.

“So for now, until there’s a different order, the recommendation from Bill Derringer will be that if you haven’t been vaccinated, you should wear a mask,” Derringer said. “I’m not asking, and I’m not making any mandates at this point in time. We’re just simply waiting for more guidance.”

Alumni engagement

Members of the Lewisburg-Union and Twin Valley North Alumni Association addressed the board about the importance of keeping students and graduates involved in the community.

The Association has awarded approximately $60,000 in scholarships to Tri-County North graduates over the last 20 years, according to Lewisburg Mayor and Alumni Association Vice President Marsha Jones. The scholarships are given to students beginning their second year of college, and are awarded on the basis of the students’ involvement in community service.

“There are many scholarships based on scholastic and academic factors, but we thought it was important to recognize service,” Jones said. “I don’t think people know how much these students contribute to the community.”

Jones stated that having alumni come back and visit on a regular basis is “extremely important for our community,” and said that the Village of Lewisburg is concerned with creating that sort of engagement as well.

“I want to reiterate our commitment to working with the school to make Lewisburg a desirable place to live,” Jones said. “I think when people look at locating in Lewisburg, or any community, they always look at the schools.”

Association member and alumnus Brenda Gullickson stressed the importance of engaging students as freshmen or even earlier.

“We need your support to start getting these kids involved,” Gullickson said.

The annual Lewisburg-Union and Twin Valley North Alumni Banquet averages more than 200 attendees each year, according to 1981 TCN graduate Dennis Kouts.

In other business

Derringer updated the board on a number of projects taking place over the summer, including the replacement of large HVAC units in the school’s band and multipurpose rooms.

“They’re huge,” Derringer said of the new units. “It’s not like just getting on a ladder and putting in a new A/C unit. They had to bring in a lift to try and get these things upstairs to go in the mechanical room up there.”

Derringer said that work on the Student Activities Center had been delayed, with weightlifting equipment being replaced and plans to paint and install new flooring being considered for the near future. A new crosswalk on State Route 503 will also be installed soon, Derringer said, with construction likely to take place over the next week.

Tri-County North Board of Education meetings take place the third Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are streamed live on YouTube.

By Anthony Baker

[email protected]

Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish

Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish