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West Side community members rally around Mary C. Snow Elementary

Charleston community members came together Thursday after Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary received an "F" letter grade from the West Virginia Department of Education. (WCHS/WVAH)

Charleston community members came together Thursday after Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary received an "F" letter grade from the West Virginia Department of Education.

Mary C. Snow Elementary is on the West Side of Charleston, which over the years has seen its fair share of poverty and crime.

"High concentration of poverty, number of blighted houses, drug trafficking,” Grace Bible Church Reverend Matthew Watts said.

What’s going on in the community might be affecting how kids are learning.

The school received an "F" from the West Virginia Department of Education because of scores on the Smarter Balance test last year.

Now, community members are coming together to help the school rise up. School officials hope the community uses the "F" as motivation to improve, and to make sure kids are getting the education they need.

Cheryl Plear is in her first year as the principal. She said students are facing situations the school can't control, like poverty, drugs and crime.

"We don't feel this is totally an "F" grade for our school. We feel its a combination of the community, the situations our students are facing. All of those situations combined helped to make the "F" score," Plear said. "There are other factors that become involved in the educational process that we have no control over so it takes more than us here at the school to educate these children, it takes the whole community, it takes the whole state of West Virginia," Plear said.

Keenan Edwards has three kids in the school and he said learning starts at home.

"Crime is going to always be there its always going to be there, but you have to learn how to deal with the crime and focus on getting your kids what they need to do in school,” Edwards said.

Watts said while good things are happening at the school, there are some missing pieces and this is the beginning, not the end for Mary C. Snow Elementary.

"There's no other community in the state of West Virginia that faces the challenges that Mary C. Snow faces and people need to understand that. No, thats not an excuse and we dont use it as an excuse but we have to make that known so the resources and support necessary to really address those issues are brought here to Mary C. Snow," Watts said.

"If the kids aren't doing good in school, aren't trying to do their best... there goes our doctor, there goes the person who finds cure for cancer so we have to make sure the kids are doing good and get a good education,” Edwards said.

Watts said his Tuesday morning group at Grace Bible Church and the NAACP put the meeting together Thursday.

They will continue to hold meetings to discuss how they can help move the school forward.

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