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Superintendent's Message

Profile image for Dr. William Harbron

Dr. William Harbron

Dear West Muskingum Community:



The following is from the book The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly:

Everything is a choice.
     This is life’s greatest truth and its hardest lesson. It is a great truth because it causes us to realize that we have chosen the life we are living right now. It is perhaps frightening for us to think that we have chosen to live our life exactly as it is today. Frightening because we may not like we find when we look at our lives today. But it is also liberating, because we can now begin to choose what we will find when we look at our life in the tomorrows that lie unlived before us.
      What will you see when you look at your life ten years from now? What will you choose? Life is choices.
     You have chosen to live this day. You have chosen to live in a certain city. You have chosen to believe in certain ideas. You have chosen the people you call friends. You choose the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and the thoughts you think. You choose to be calm or restless; you choose to feel appreciative or ungrateful. Love is a choice. Anger is a choice. Fear is a choice. Courage is a choice.|
     You choose. Sometimes we choose the-best-version-of-ourselves, and sometimes we choose a second-rate-version-of-ourselves. Everything is a choice, and our choices echo throughout our lives…and into history…and on and on into eternity.
     Most people never fully accept the truth. They spend their lives arguing for their weaknesses, complaining about their lot in life, or blaming other people for their weaknesses and their lot in life.
     You may argue that you are forced to live in a certain city or drive a certain car, but it is not true. And if it is, it is true only temporarily and because of a choice you have made in the past.
     We choose, and in doing so, we design our lives.
     Some may say that we do not choose our circumstances. You’d be surprised. We have much more power over circumstances of our lives than most men and women would ever admit. And even if circumstances are thrust upon us, we choose how we respond to those circumstances.
     Others may argue that they did not choose the country they were born in or their parents they were born to. How do we know we didn’t choose these things? We are all endowed with free will. Did we not have this free will before we were born? Perhaps one day we will realize that we have chosen much more than we have imagined.
     I hope that day is today.
     For the day we accept that we have chosen to choose our choices is the day we cast off the shackles of victimhood and are set free to pursue the lives we were born to live.
     Learn to master the moments of decision and you will live a life uncommon.

     In a very short time, the Class of 2017 will graduate from West Muskingum High School. Throughout their short lives, they have been making choices that bring them to this moment of graduation. They will continue to make more choices as they mature further into adulthood. It is our hope they make wise choices now and in the future.
     As parents, guardians, community members, and educators, we can help every day to mentor our children and youth to make wise choices currently and in the future. It is critical that a community of caring and supportive adults have the responsibility to guide them to choose wisely and recognize they control their own destinies.
     A supportive, invested, unified, and caring community can help our children to choose wisely. On Saturday, May 27, the West Muskingum High School Class of 2017 will start their adult journey. It is important as a community that we provide the support they need during this transition into adulthood and be there for them as they navigate their future challenges and choices.
     Not far behind are the Classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020, and before you know it, the class of 2029 will be graduating from high school. We still have time to help them to choose wisely by our willingness to give and to surround them with the support they need.
     Congratulations to the West Muskingum High School Class of 2017.

William R. Harbron, Ed.D.

     After much prayer and reflection, I believe it is in the best interest of the district and the community that I move on. I have accepted the superintendent’s position with Dover School District in Dover, New Hampshire.
     It has been a blessing in so many ways to have had the opportunity to serve in the West Muskingum Local School District as superintendent. I have learned a great deal here about leadership and the outstanding care and support the community has for its youth. I have grown from my experiences, and I greatly respect everyone’s collective efforts for the school community.
     I have a firm belief in stewardship. When your skills and talents no longer align or do not benefit those you serve, it is time to seek other avenues of service.
     The Dover School District is an excellent growth opportunity for me. Following our daughter’s experience in Boston, my wife, Marilyn, and I have discussed having the opportunity to experience the New England region. I believe this is an area that I can apply my skill set and talents. Marilyn and I are looking forward to this new adventure.
     I have great confidence the West Muskingum Board of Education will fully invest themselves in the recruitment and selection of a new superintendent for the district.
     Thank you for your support during the past six years. As a member of the West Muskingum community, I encourage you to continue to move forward to help others to grow and to learn. West Muskingum will always hold a special place in my heart. I wish you much future success as a community devoted to the education and development of all children.

West Muskingum is currently accepting open enrollment applications for the 2017-18 school year. The annual letter and application has been mailed to current open enrollment students. For any new students, the application can be downloaded from our website by clicking here  and submitting it to West Muskingum Schools, 4880 West Pike, Zanesville. Approval and/or denial letters for grades 1-12 will be mailed out in July. Kindergarten letters could be mailed as late as one week prior to the start of school.

     The Light the Hill Committee reconvened to work towards Phase III of the original project. Phase III includes the reconstruction of the football field and track. The committee has worked to gather information on many aspects of the project. Joe Murphy is chairing the committee and is supported by Aaron Bates, athletic director. For more information, or to make a donation, email Joe at joe.murphy1023@yahoo.com

     The West Muskingum High School Choir earned the distinguished honor of receiving a “1” Rating at the regional competition. On April 21-22, the choir participated in the state competition and received an excellent rating. Congratulations to Josh Whetstone and the West Muskingum High School Choir.

     West Muskingum Elementary School will be offering Kindergarten Jump Start starting August 7-11 from 8:30 a.m. to noon, at West Muskingum Elementary School. The purpose of the Jump Start Program is to:

  • Acquaint the 2017-18 kindergarten class with the elementary building and teachers
  • Introduce the staff and parents of the new kindergarten students
  • Introduce students to the routines and procedures
  • Determine the initial instructional needs of students

The following successes are worth noting:

  • WMES Jump for Heart organized by Nick Dearing collected $2,381.46.
  • Melissa Gould organized WMES Pennies for Patients.
  • The fourth grade students and staff visited the Ohio State Capitol Building in March.
  • Kudos to the fourth grade students supporting kindergarten sight word intervention before the tardy bell each morning: Kace Bowen, Cameron Campbell, Brody Howard, Connor Hill, Halle Peck, Lindsee Johnson, Caitlyn Snode, Lydiah Huey, Savanna Edminson, Jake Anton, and Skyler Hankinson.
  • WMES Typing Club “to typers” for April are: Delainey Vaughn, Noah Denver, Brantley Beisser, Brennen Talbert, Teriauna Brandford, Kaley Meddings, Jaisie St. Clair, Liam Lovelace, Gabby Ritterbeck, Jennifer Kuhn, and Andrew Allen.
  • WMMS Pennies for Patients organized by Renee Ware raised $2,233.53.
  • 100% of the WMMS students completed part one and two of the ELA AIR test.

Staying connected to the district and schools is a vital necessity for parents and guardians. The following are recommended ways to stay connected:

DISTRICT WEBSITE: The district website is the place for all things West Muskingum. Visit our website at www.westmschools.org for a calendar of events, news, resources, athletics and more. Also, like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/westmschools.  

EMAIL BLAST: You can receive an e-blast (email) from the district. The email blast will include monthly superintendent messages, Board Briefs, and other notices of important events and activities. You can register through the Communication page on the district website.


  • WMHS 3.5 Banquet – Thursday, May 4
  • WMMS Activity Night for Grades 5, 6, and 7 – Friday, May 5
  • Mid-Ohio Food Bank Food Distribution – Saturday, May 5, 10 a.m. – Administrative Center
  • WMHS AP Exams – Monday, May 8 through Friday, May 12
  • WMES Fourth Grade Social Studies Assessment – Tuesday, May 9 and Wednesday, May 10
  • WMES Boosters Meeting – Tuesday, May 9, 6 p.m.
  • WMMS Eighth Grade Washington, D.C. Trip – Wednesday, May 10 through Friday, May 12
  • Archery Nationals – Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12
  • Jazz and Rib Fest – Friday, May 19
  • WMHS Spring Concert – Sunday, May 21
  • WMHS Senior Picnic – Monday, May 22
  • WMHS Graduation Practice & All School Awards – Tuesday, May 23
  • WMMS Eighth Grade Graduation – Thursday, May 25, 8 a.m. – WMMS
  • WMMS & WMHS – End of the Grading Period – Thursday, May 25
  • WMMS & WMHS – Students’ Last Day – Thursday, May 25
  • WMES Field Day – Friday, May 26
  • WMMS & WMHS Recognition Breakfast – Friday, May 26, 8:00 a.m. – WMHS
  • WMMS & WMHS Staff Work Day – Friday, May 26
  • WMHS Graduation – Friday, May 27, 7 p.m. – WMHS
  • Memorial Day – No School – Monday, May 29
  • WMMS & WMHS Professional Development – Tuesday, May 30
  • WMMS & WMHS – Teachers Final Day – Tuesday, May 30
  • WMES Fourth Grade Graduation – Thursday, June 1
  • WMES Final Student Day – Friday, June 2
  • WMES End of the Fourth Grading Period – Friday, June 2
  • Mid-Ohio Food Distribution – Saturday, June 3, 10 a.m. – Administrative Center
  • WMES Professional Development – Monday, June 5
  • Academic Fund Meeting – Monday, June 5, 7 p.m. – Administrative Center
  • WMES Recognition Breakfast – Tuesday, June 6, 8 a.m.- WMES
  • WMES Teacher Work Day – Tuesday, June 6

     There may come a time when a family needs additional help. Below are resources West Muskingum Schools wants you to know are available to our district’s families:

  • Free and Reduced Breakfast and Lunch Program - If you require additional support to participate in the students’ breakfast and lunch program, you may apply for free and reduced lunch. All information and participation is confidential. Student participation is confidential through the use of pin numbers. Directions and applications are available on the district’s website.
  • Mid-Ohio Food Distribution - The next scheduled Mid-Ohio Food Distribution will be held on Saturday, April 1 at the administration center, 4880 West Pike. Registration begins at 10 a.m., followed by distribution at 11 a.m. Fresh produce and bakery products are generally available. This is open to all West Muskingum families that have a need for additional resources for food.
  • Homeless - If you, or someone you know is homeless in the district, contact Karen Hand, homeless liaison, at 740-455-4052. Your information and request for assistance will be kept confidential.
  • Crisis Text Line: Crisis Text Line provides free support 24/7. It is a free, confidential service available via text on mobile devices, and serves all ages. Any person may need help in coping with a stressful situation. Throughout Ohio, individuals can text the keyword “4HOPE” to 741741 to be connected to a trained crisis counselor. Crisis Text Line does not charge users if your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint or Verizon, and nothing will appear on a phone bill. If your plan is with another carrier, standard messaging rates apply.

Start talking

     The media has done a good job bringing to light the prevalence and severity of the use of heroin, prescription drugs and marijuana among our nation’s youth. But what about alcohol? We don’t hear much about it in the news anymore. Is underage drinking still that widespread? And c’mon, is it really that big of a deal? YES and YES.
     Alcohol remains the number one drug of choice among youth, and excessive drinking continues to lead to more than 4,300 adolescent deaths each year.
     The good news is that overall, underage drinking has declined. The 2016 Monitoring the Future Survey found that 7% of 8th graders, 20% of 10th graders and 33% of 12th graders had consumed alcohol within the past 30 days – all down from past years. Similarly, when it comes to binge drinking (defined as five or more drinks in a row by males or four or more drinks in a row by females), it has also decreased, with 3% of 8th graders, 10% of 10th graders and 16% of 12th graders reporting recent binge drinking. However, anytime young people are drinking alcohol, it is a problem. Furthermore, the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that 8% of high school students admitted to getting behind the wheel after drinking and 20% said they rode in a car with a driver who had been drinking.
     Car accidents are the leading cause of death for adolescents. And stepping into a car as either an impaired driver or as the passenger of an impaired driver can be a fatal mistake.
     The hazards of underage drinking include a long list of risks and should never be taken lightly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:

  • School problems – missing school and poor or failing grades
  • Social problems – fighting and loss of interest in extracurricular activities
  • Legal problems – from impaired driving or physically hurting someone while under the influence
  • Physical problems – hangovers and illnesses
  • Disruption of normal growth and sexual development
  • Changes in brain development - some that may have lifelong effects, including memory issues
  • Unwanted, unplanned and unprotected sexual activity
  • Abuse of other drugs
  • Physical and sexual assault
  • Increased risk for suicide and homicide
  • Unintentional alcohol-related injuries and fatalities – due to burns, falls, drowning and alcohol poisoning (in addition to car crashes)

     There are also certain times and circumstances in our children’s lives where they may be at greater likelihood for underage drinking. When youth transition into middle school or high school, or acquire a driver’s license - these are especially risky times for teen alcohol use. Youth with conduct problems, depression or other emotional issues; anyone with a family history of alcoholism; young people whose friends drink or are involved in other deviant activities - are all at increased risk for the onset of teen drinking.
     It is also important to keep in mind that young people who begin drinking before the age of 15 are six times more likely to develop alcoholism or have problems with alcohol later in life, compared to those who wait until turning 21. With this in mind, the importance of delaying drinking is immense. In the following tip we will share some ideas to assist you in keeping your child alcohol-free.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Alcohol Fact Sheets – Underage Drinking. 2016 Monitoring the Future Survey. 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.



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