A West Virginia High School Honors the Finest

April 3, 2012

This spring, like every other, a West Virginia high school uniquely celebrates excellence by remembering a true hero.
Keyser High School in Mineral County names a young man to receive the Jonah “Ed” Kelley Award. Considered the highest honor given to a young man by the school, the award goes to an individual who best combines the attributes of academic and athletic excellence with good citizenship.

 
Kelley attended Grace United Methodist Church, Keyser High School, and Potomac State College. He played football for the Catamounts until he was drafted into the army.

 
During World War II, Sergeant Kelley led Company E of the 311th Infantry Regiment through a storm of enemy fire to help secure possession of the town of Kesternich. Despite being wounded by the Germans, he positioned his men to carry on the attack the next morning. Kelley’s last action on the battlefield was a personal assault on a machine gun nest. He silenced it, but it silenced him as well.

 
The official ceremony includes not only the student body, but also the 78th “Lightning” Division, with whom Kelley served. Since 1946, the veterans have been honored guests of the school. Depletion of their numbers, however, means that this will be the last year that they have an official part in the program.

 
Schools often forget to remember the past in their hurry to prepare students for the future. Many dominant educational thinkers disdain the need to teach children about true heroes, like George Washington or Sergeant Kelley. Keyser High School should be credited with keeping alive not only a valued tradition, but also the spirit of education that tells all of us that individuals do matter.

 
This year’s award nominees are Jamison Jones, Eric Lewis, and Josh Parrill. The ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 4, at 9:30 a.m. at Church-McKee Arts Center on the campus of Potomac State College.


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