Green Bank and Kids
Green Bank for Kids
When my wife and I moved to Green Bank with our two small children, a 3 1/2 year old girl and a 6 month old boy, we didn't know if we would like it or how long we would stay. We were concerned about the kids, and how they would do growing up in a rural environment that lacked all the obvious cultural advantages. But a few years later, when we decided to put down roots here, we did so in part for the kids, and now, a decade after our arrival, it seems like one of the smartest things we ever did, for Green Bank is simply a wonderful place to raise children.
We moved to Green Bank from a large, suburban, university town, where parents had earnest discussions over the selection of a preschool while their children were still learning to walk. It was a place of numerous resources and cultural institutions. Green Bank is not like that.
In Green Bank there is one school, a rural Elementary-Middle School, and everyone's children attend it. It does not have many of the facilities of larger schools. They don't offer Japanese as an elective in the second grade. But it is small, friendly, clean and safe. It is more like a community school than a public school. It is a place were kids spend time playing outside in groups, where everyone can be on the soccer team, and where everyone can play in the school band. Because the school is small and economically diverse, my children have friends both older and younger, and from different backgrounds.
My wife and I are more involved with the school here than we would have been in our former town. That's true for lots of parents, and the school is supportive of our involvement. Every time I go there, I see someone helping out in one way or another. Several of us did after-hours tutoring in preparation for the county math field day. Others have reading sessions with the little kids, or show off sunspots through a telescope. You can do more than simply hand off your kid to the teachers, so you may put in more hours in your role as a parent in Green Bank, but the work is with your children and that is pretty good.
For its population, Pocahontas County has a nice Parks and Recreation program, and throughout the year you will see small groups of kids taking pottery, quilting, swimming or canoe classes, often after hours at the school. There are scouting, FFA, 4H, church groups, soccer and baseball. Our kids have more than enough to do. There is also the ever-present outdoors, and on nice evenings mydaughter and I often slip down to the creek to give the fish a laugh. We take family hikes and bike rides.
In Green Bank the general store carries all the basics that you might need, but the movie theater is more than 50 miles away, as is the nearest bookstore. That's also how far you have to go to see the orthodontist or find a good selection of wine. The most negative things about life in this area are the absences: no malls or fast food joints, a long drive to a theater or supermarket. But this also helps to make it a wonderful place for a family. Every few weeks we load the kids into the van and make a day of it, driving the hour to the supermarket, taking in lunch at a restaurant, perhaps a movie. Sometimes other kids come along. Parents carpool to the orthodontist and to little league games. We plan our vacations so that the children have the experience of cities and all the opportunities they offer. Then we come home. I've heard a number of people say how glad they are to have raised their children in this area. There have been several families in recent years who moved from elsewhere, often at some sacrifice, so that their kids could grow up here. At first this puzzled me, but now it doesn't. It is not easy being a kid today, and there is no place free from modern pressures and the natural discomforts of youth. But Green Bank is a great place for families and kids, and I am glad we are here.
It's December 2011 and my daughter and son are both home on break from College. Both attended the Pocahontas Co. WV public schools from pre-K through 12th grade, and both had their choice among several quite good schools when it came time to pick a college. Nearly 20 years ago we chose to live in Green Bank because we though it would be a great place for children and we've not been disappointed in the results. Neither have the kids. "Green Bank is a great place to grow up" says my daughter, while during his first year at a large urban university my son discovered that "most kids at school just 'grew up'. They didn't have the kind of experiences I did, like going to Trent's General Store, playing in the Greenbrier River, bonfire parties and the Cass railroad."
They might also have mentioned that they grew up without cell phone service, even at the High School, but I don't think that absence was too important to them and their friends. I personally like the fact that my kids and their friends seem comfortable around adults --something I'm told is not so common. Green Bank is not perfect, but we've never regretted our decision to stay.