Covington student aims to swim for district


By Aimee Hancock

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COVINGTON — The Covington Exempted Village School District Board of Education heard from teacher Kelly Thomas during its regular meeting Wednesday regarding a request for her son to represent the district in local swim competitions.

Thomas, who has been a teacher at Covington for over 20 years, said both of her sons, Drew and Brock Gessner, have been swimming on local teams, including the Miami County YMCA and Tecumseh Woods Summer Swim Team, since they were young. Drew is currently a 10th grader at Covington High School, and Brock is in the eighth grade.

Thomas said she has been seeking approval to allow Drew to swim on these local teams under the Covington school name, however, her request was recently denied, she said, by Athletic Director Ashley Johnson.

“I am asking you to reconsider this. Drew is an exceptional swimmer, athlete, and student,” Thomas said. “When he sets a goal, he works until he achieves it. He would love to make Covington proud by swimming for them.”

Pam Fulton, head coach of Miami County YMCA swimming, was in attendance Wednesday to show support for this request.

“The biggest thing I’m here for is for support for Drew (and Brock),” Fulton said.

Fulton said she and her husband, Tom, who serves as assistant swim coach for the MCYMCA, have assisted in starting several local swim teams, including at Newton High School, Anna High School, and Russia High School.

Fulton noted that these teams often include just a few members and do not involve recruitment of a certain number of participants. Fulton said she believes there may have been a misunderstanding in terms of the goal behind creation of this team at Covington.

“We’re not looking for a legacy, and we’re not looking for growing a huge team and creating problems,” she said. “Our biggest thing is to allow high school kids, who already have swam since they were little, to be able to swim with the name of their school.”

Drew Gessner also spoke briefly during Wednesday’s meeting.

“I’ve been swimming pretty much longer than I can remember. I love the sport … and I’ve always wanted to become better,” he said. “Ever since I got to high school, I’ve always wanted to swim for Covington.

“I know Covington’s never had a swim team, and they probably won’t, and that’s okay,” he continued. “I’m proud to be a Buccaneer and I would be proud to swim for Covington.”

The following items were approved during Wednesday’s meeting:

• A list of donations, totaling $3,560.25, to go toward various district activities.

• The resignation of Rose McMaken, with 33 years of service to the district, effective June 1, 2021.

• An agreement with K-12 Business Consulting Inc. for the fiscal year 2022 Ohio Five-Year Forecast Program at an annual cost of $6,500, with semi-annual payments of $3,250 due in November 2021 and May 2022.

• An agreement with Montgomery County Educational Service Center for physical therapy, assessment, and autism for approximately $34,585.35 during FY 2022.

• A resolution allowing the use of online lessons, or “Blizzard Bags,” as part of the district’s make-up day plan. This is approved annually.

• Revised contract with Superintendent Gene Gooding, effective Aug. 1, 2021, extending the existing contract term through July 31, 2025, increasing the salary amount and amending the terms regarding professional growth. All other provisions of the contract shall remain the same.

• Amended contract to increase the salary of the treasurer, effective Aug. 1, 2021. All other contract provisions shall remain the same.

The board entered into a brief executive session to discuss pending legal matters. No action was taken.

The next board meeting will be held Wednesday, Aug. 18, at 5:30 p.m.

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