PRINCETON, WV, JUNE 7, 2011:   Adjutant General James Hoyer, WV Army National Guard, delivered on a promise he made last November. In his Veteran’s Day address to the student body of PMS, he said if he got a good report of their academic progress, he would send the Guard to PMS with the “climbing wall.” 

The middle school teachers took the challenge a bit farther, requiring students to demonstrate test-taking skills and perfect attendance during WESTEST 2 and have an exemplary conduct record for the fourth quarter of the year.  The payoff?  A shot at repelling off the National Guard’s rock wall.   

Staff Sergeant Joseph Samples demonstrated how to put on the harness and safely scale and dismount from the wall.  “This is a belay system, and your harness is your safety equipment,” he told eager students. “When you reach the top, you’ll push the buzzer and then be able to repel back down by pushing off the wall.”

Another guardsman explained that the pulleys were not giving the students a boost.  They had to scale the wall under their own power. Despite that, every student made it to the top, and most wanted to climb again as soon as their feet hit the ground.

“After each group finishes,” Samples said, “I give them a little talk about summer safety –personal safety, making good choices, Internet and social websites.” 

“I think this experience is something the kids will remember,” said organizer and teacher Stephanie Bragg.  “They are still talking about the Black Hawk helicopter that General Hoyer brought last fall.”