By Matthew Young, RealWV
CLARIFICATION: While the Greenbrier Resort serves as sponsor and host for the Greenbrier Scholars event, they have no role in determining whether either school chooses to participate. As the author of this piece, and based upon reader feedback, I feel this clarification is necessary.
CHARMCO, W.Va. – Students and families of Greenbrier West High School (GWHS) received some much anticipated good news on Friday, as it was confirmed that the West-end’s graduating seniors will once again be included in the “Greenbrier Scholars” program sponsored by the Greenbrier Resort.
In a social media post made Friday afternoon, Greenbrier County Board of Education member Paula Sanford-Dunford wrote: “West will be attending the Greenbrier Scholars event at the Greenbrier. I’m sure an announcement will be made in the next few days with all the details.”
First held in 1993, the Greenbrier Scholars program rewards seniors from Greenbrier East High School (GEHS) who maintain a 3.5 GPA throughout every semester of high school with a day at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs. In 2017, the program was expanded to include seniors from GWHS as well. The program was shelved in 2020 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon the return of the Greenbrier Scholar program in 2021, GWHS students were conspicuous by their absence.
While speaking with RealWV on Saturday, Greenbrier County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bryant said, “It was a communication situation where East has a point person who called the Greenbrier to ask what the date was (for the Greenbrier Scholars event).”
“The former social director for the Greenbrier retired, and there was nobody really at West with the change of administration for whom to call,” Bryant added. “I connected all the dots yesterday. The GWHS Scholars will be treated to a day at the Greenbrier on May 8.”
Bryant further added that “all the point people are back together,” and there should be no further breakdowns in communication between the school and the resort.
“It was not intentional neglect to not include them (GWHS students),” Bryant noted. “It was just a matter of new people in new positions, and who do you talk to? Sometimes when there’s a little glitch, it gets made out to be more than what it is. But we’re going in the right direction now for the future.”
Paula Sanford-Dunford, when speaking with RealWV Saturday evening, echoes Bryant’s sentiments.
“I was called by a couple parents, and of course you know how social media is,” Sanford-Dunford said, referring to some backlash directed toward school officials and board members stemming from the school’s exclusion. “I didn’t know what I could do, but somewhere along the line West was left out, and the students were upset about it.”
As Sanford-Dunford is in her first term as a Board of Education member, she was unaware that West had been overlooked since 2020. However, Sanford-Dunford’s daughter participated in the Greenbrier Scholars program while a senior at GWHS in 2017.
“Everybody deserves to be recognized,” Sanford-Dunford said. “That’s how the ball started rolling with me.”
“Before I’d even gotten to the meetings yesterday – we were having some meetings at the Board office – Jeff (Bryant) had already taken care of it,” Sanford-Dunford noted. “I was happy about that. If we’re going to be fair, then let’s be fair across the board. The students at West, even though they are less in number, needed to be recognized like everyone else. I don’t want to take anything away from East at all because they’re great kids and they work really hard, but West needed to be recognized as well.”
As an alumni of GWHS, Sanford-Dunford says she is committed to providing the same opportunities and benefits to West-end students as are enjoyed by students in other sections of Greenbrier County.
“I see how hard our kids work,” Sanford-Dunford said. “And to be recognized – that’s something they deserve. And the parents of seniors are also deserving of that recognition. That’s the way I looked at it – they (GEHS and GWHS students) all deserved it. The whole county needs to come together and be a team, and not make one high school different from the other.”
RealWV will provide updates regarding the GWHS Greenbrier Scholars event as additional information is made available.