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CVSD honors retiring Principal Armacost; finds almost all students want to return to in-person learning in the fall

Dr. Ken Armacost, Conewago Valley Intermediate School principal for the past 16 years, will retire on June 30.

Dr. Christopher Rudisill, superintendent of the Conewago Valley School District, said that Armacost has had a successful career leading the school.

“It’s hard to believe that he’s been principal for 16 years,” Rudisill said. “He leaves a tremendous legacy as a building principal, educator, mentor and most importantly, a person. Most people might not know that he didn’t start his career off in education. He was a deputy sheriff in Fairfax, VA. From there, he transitioned to crisis intervention specialist in Hanover. Finally, he wised up in 1988 and said, ‘I’m going to public schools and I’m going to get a job.’ He became a guidance counselor in Biglerville High School. From there, he left Biglerville and went to Central York as a guidance counselor for several years and finally made the best decision of his life in 1994 and came to Conewago Valley.”

Armacost has been in a leadership position for a large portion of his career at the school.

“He was a guidance counselor at New Oxford Middle School until 2004 and then he transitioned to assistant principal,” Rudisill said. “And then, during the 2005-06 school year, took the reins and never looked back as principal at CVIS.”

Rudisill said that Armacost has been recognized several times by accomplishments, including honors from outside organizations, adding that his dedication is clear even without the awards.

“There is nothing that he would not do for those kids, and it shows,” Rudisill said.

The district gave Armacost a token of appreciation.

“The best decision I ever made was coming here,” Armacost said.

Return to school

Rudisill said that the school has offered families the chance to participate in a school survey to gauge the level of interest in face-to-face enrollment in the district compared to other options.

Rudisill said that about a quarter of the district’s families responded, adding that the survey will likely be offered again later this summer.

In all, 1,646 families answered the survey questions.

All but two of the 192 respondents from Conewago Township Elementary School said they planned to return to school in person. Two students were interested in Conewago Valley Online Academy.

At New Oxford Elementary School, all 240 families that responded indicated they wanted to return to the building.

Of the 387 families who responded from Conewago Valley Intermediate School, nearly all families wanted to return to school, but six wanted to use the online academy and two were considering an outside cyber school.

New Oxford Middle School had 299 families respond to the survey. Most preferred face-to-face instruction in the school, though 0.3% were interested in the online academy, one student had decided to homeschool and another would attend cyber school, according to Rudisill.

At the high school, some students were interested in a hybrid model.

Of the 528 families who replied, 96% indicated they wanted to return face-to-face full-time.

Another 1.7% wanted to use the online academy and 0.8% wanted a blended option involving the online academy. Another two students planned to homeschool and 1.1% were considering a cyber charter school.

Rudisill said the principals planned to look over the responses during a retreat on Thursday.

Recognition

Two schools were recognized for receiving the Heart of Gold certificate in the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge.

Both New Oxford Elementary School and Conewago Valley Intermediate School were honored for ranking in the top 25 schools in the region. Dr. Larry Sanders, principal of Conewago Valley Intermediate, said that his school was the top-ranking school in the five-county area.

The board also recognized Savannah Doss for being named as May’s New Oxford High School Rotary Student of the Month.

Nate Clyde was noted for being nominated for the Gettysburg Times Athlete of the Week for May 10.

Other business

Dr. Sharon Perry, assistant superintendent, said that the district worked through the difficulties the last school year brought. “It was a real joy working with our administrative team overcoming all of the challenges that we had set forth before us,” Perry said.

Earlier in the meeting, Christopher Cobb, principal of New Oxford Elementary School, had also noted that he felt the district performed well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We did some pretty cool things in the pandemic,” Cobb said. “We learned how to Zoom. We continued to push the learning. We learned the importance of student, staff and community relations. We learned how to be flexible, safe and supportive in challenging times, so there were some good things that came out of the pandemic. We made the most out of it.”

Perry advised that anyone who supervises teachers will need to take special training as a result of Pennsylvania’s Act 13. “Anyone who is an evaluator in the district will be subject to mandated professional development,” she said. Perry said that multiple training modules will be provided.

There was no public comment.

The next regular board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at the district office.

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Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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