|HERE'S one for the bigger-is-always-better, consolidation-at-all-costs crowd: Tiny Buffalo High School
in Putnam County was one of only two West Virginia high schools named a School of Excellence this
year by the state Department of Education.|
If you listen to self-appointed experts at the School Building Authority and in editorial columns of the
Daily Mail, Buffalo High's success is inconceivable.
The 268-student school - so small that it was scheduled for closure, if a consolidation bond issue had
passed - is too little to offer advanced classes and other electives that make high school a rich experience,
those who look only at numbers say.
Wrong. Thanks to the "Bison Block," a special period carved out of the school day to provide both
advanced and remedial classes to students, Buffalo has a rigorous curriculum exceeding that of many
larger schools. Students can learn advanced chemistry or human physiology, for example.
What about art and music and other electives? Certainly, protest the naysayers, a tiny high school can't
have the resources to offer such things. Wrong again. Buffalo recently began one of the first music
programs in the state making use of computers and synthesizers.
Buffalo High even has after-school tutoring for kids of all ages needing to catch up.
Not every small school has Buffalo's success. Teachers, administrators, students and parents must all
work together to achieve excellence. But it is possible, even in the smallest schools.
Huge schools don't necessarily lead to excellence. All the advanced placement classes in the world won't
help students if they are taught by mediocre teachers who can't keep track of the faces and names of
hundreds of students.
Sometimes consolidation makes sense. Sometimes it does not.
Some megaschools are excellent. Some are not. Some tiny schools, like Buffalo are excellent. Some are
The state Department of Education recognized Buffalo's excellence. Perhaps that will teach other
education officials and critics in this state that big is not always beautiful.