Grandfamilies leaders

The Board of Education recognized leaders of the Healthy Grandfamilies program, as well as the county representatives who participated in the initiative at Monday’s regular board meeting.

FAIRMONT – Several representatives of Marion County Schools have been certified to facilitate the Healthy Grandfamilies program.

Through a partnership with Family Services of Marion and Harrison Counties, the Board of Education was able to send school administrators and faculty through the training. The goal of the training is to be better suited to interact with and aid people who are raising their grandchildren, as well as those students who are being raised by their grandparents.

“Close to 50 have actually helped in making this program a success this first round,” said Riley Freeland, a social worker with Family Services. “We are really excited to see what it brings to Marion County.”

The members of the BOE thanked Freeland for helping to bring the program to Marion County, and said they believe the program will make a difference to kids who are growing up in nontraditional families.

“I am very appreciative for the opportunity to give this to the grandparents who may be struggling,” said Randy Farley, superintendent of Marion County Schools. “In turn, it helps our students in schools, and so we’re just appreciative to get it off the ground.”

Board member Donna Costello also said the program was valuable, because it introduced the availability of resources to the county.

“I have a very dear friend that went through this program,” Costello said. “She said this was the best thing she ever did, and how much it helped, how many resources are available.”

Other board members agreed that the program is needed in Marion County, with both Farley and Board president Mary Jo Thomas saying that they would like to hold the training sessions more often to allow more people to go through it.

“I also want to say it’s a very valuable program for our kids,” BOE member Richard Pellegrin said.

Following the grandfamilies presentation, Brenda Giannis, president of the Fairmont Chamber Music Society, thanked the board for supporting the organization and bringing chamber music to the students of Marion County Schools. She said the series of performances two weeks ago by chamber music duo Bridging the Gap inspired students in elementary and middle schools in a way that was evident by their reaction to the music.

“I actually had tears well up in my eyes at the last concert,” Giannis said. “The kids started giving them suggestions for other music they could play. It was great.

“I’m going to try to get these guys back next year to go into our other attendance areas.”

Seeing that the music of the duo managed to engage and inspire students to learn about baroque music, Thomas said it would be a good idea to try to bring in more performers that could introduce students to forms of art unknown to them.

“It is a good investment, and a great return – we can’t even imagine the return,” Thomas said. “Both military and music and hometown good stuff, you can’t get much better than that.”

Email Eddie Trizzino at and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.

News Reporter

Eddie Trizzino has been a reporter with the Times West Virginian since August of 2017, covering the entertainment, business and health beats. He spends most of his time listening to records, going to the movies and strolling through the town.

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