Kenneth Upthegrove, a member of the Washington Court House City Schools Board of Education, will receive the Ohio School Board Association’s Veteran Board Member Award.
The award is planned to be given to Upthegrove at the association’s 65th-annual Capital Conference and Trade Show on Sunday, Nov. 8. The event is being held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Veteran Board Member Award is given to school board members in recognition of 25 years of service. Of the nearly 3,500 board members in Ohio, only 33 will receive the honor in 2020.
The WCHCS Board of Education recognized Upthegrove for his 25 years of service at Monday’s regular board meeting.
“Your continued dedication to education excellence for the students of our community has improved the lives of thousands in the Blue Lion Family,” presented Jennifer Lynch, board president.
Known simply as “Kenny,” all of the board members shared warm laughs and entertaining stories of their years serving with Upthegrove.
“I’ve lived in this community a long time, and I’ve known Kenny to not only be active in the schools, but also in our community,” said Dennis Garrison, fellow board member. “He has always been known to be supportive of the kids and teachers in our schools.”
Upthegrove has enjoyed a long history with the Blue Lions. Graduating from Washington High School in 1977, he began coaching the eighth grade boys basketball team at Washington Middle School in 1980 — a position he would hold for 14 years.
“He was my son’s eighth grade basketball coach, and all of the kids thought the world of Kenny,” said Garrison. “He is very deserving of this award.”
In 1982, Upthegrove was hired into a maintenance position with WCHCS under Superintendent Ron Thompson. After a few years, he was promoted to maintenance supervisor by Superintendent Terry Feick.
Upthegrove left the maintenance department at WCHCS to teach the construction trades to Blue Lions and students from across southern Ohio at Laurel Oaks in 1995 where his classes ranged from carpentry, electricity and plumbing.
The next year, board member Kathy Lee announced her departure from the WCHCS Board of Education due to moving out of the district, and Upthegrove was appointed as her replacement.
Winning his first election in 1997, Upthegrove has served the community as an elected official to the school board ever since.
“It has been a joy to serve on this board,” Upthegrove said. “It has been a wonderful opportunity to work for our kids.”
Upthegrove has served on the board of education during many highlight events including hiring long-term Superintendent Keith Brown, the 2000 baseball state championship, and the passage of the first operations levy since 1991. He was the president of the board during the approval of the new school buildings in 2003, as well as during the construction of the current facilities.
Retiring from Laurel Oaks in 2007, Upthegrove is currently employed by Court House Manor as the Environmental Service Supervisor. In addition to his time on the WCHCS Board of Education, he also served many years on the board of Heritage Memorial Church, where he has been very involved in the youth ministry.
“I am thankful for those in the community who continue to allow me to serve our kids on this board,” said Upthegrove. “I’ll stay on this board as long as the public wants me to, or I feel that I’m not making a difference anymore.”
Until then, Upthegrove explained he looks forward to continuing to work as an advocate for the students and staff of his community in a meaningful way.