MANY changes have taken place over the years in the Ohio Valley. Perhaps in the future things will continue to change and the valley will benefit even further. That is the feeling of some Middle School students in Bridgeport Schools and St. Mary Central Elementary School in Martins Ferry as they penned their views on what the valley was, what it is and what it may be in the future. They focused on education, how it has changed, and on future job opportunities. Mallory Fischer of Bridgeport Schools said the changes have been for the better. She said Bridgeport High School is new and has improved technologically. Students have access to computers which is something they did not have a long time ago. “After talking to some adults who grew up in the valley, I discovered that life was much different than it is today,” she said. “My grandmother told me that when she was in school, they had outhouses and had to pump water.” Job opportunities have also changed. Once there were steel mills, coal mines and factories. Now, people struggle to find jobs. “The possibility of natural gas and oil exploration could help produce more jobs and the Ohio Valley could benefit greatly,” Fischer said. Aryn McAfee of Bridgeport Schools said making changes in our lives is an unavoidable part of growing up. She said her parents didn’t have the opportunities to get the education that she is receiving. “I have a chance to go to college because of scholarships and financial aid. I plan on going to college and become a dentist,” she said. “Our Ohio Valley is changing. Maybe it is changing for the better. Perhaps we could have even more opportunities that we already have,” McAfee said. Maddie Kwiatkowski of St. Mary’s Central, said she thinks the exploration of natural resources is a very good thing. “At first I thought the exploration was a bad thing, that it was affecting our environment. I thought it was killing animals, but then I did some research and found that it is not a bad thing. It helps Americans everyday. It is not harming the environment or destroying wildlife habitats. It is creating jobs and those people are paying taxes,” she said. Ava DaRe of St. Mary Central said towns in the valley are riddled with failed businesses, closed steel mills and coal mines. “Though failing industries don’t really affect me personally, it does have a negative affect on communities because they are being defined by dilapidation, warding off potential new businesses,” DaRe said. “We need more jobs in our small towns. We need more money and we need more stability. With these valuable things small town people, like myself, won’t be forced to move away from all we have ever known.” DaRe said Martins Ferry and the surrounding areas don’t have a variety of jobs so she will probably end up following the flow of jobs out of Ohio. Hopefully, more jobs will be created so I can stay near my family as I grow older, but the state of things right now and the projections for the future are not very cheery in the eyes of the average Ohioan.” Bryce Zonkoski of St. Mary Central, said natural gas and oil exploration are hot topics. ” I think we, as people, should attempt to tap into the possible billions that could lay underneath our feet. I am not saying t hat we should let the gas companies take over all the land, but we should try to better our region through exploration.” Zonkoski said this would hopefully create jobs for workers, and would boost the economy. “The Middle East will eventually run out of oil and the world will be looking for it. If we get enough energy from our own country, we will be fine while everyone else is looking for natural gas and oil. George Lollathin of St. Mary Central, said the education received today in our schools is amazing. “We have so many advantages over the education of our parents,” he said. Those advantages include Smart Boards for notes and historical pictures - Laptops for writing or finding data - Laser printers for copying papers and printing essays. “We also have television for use of watching shows or historical movies; iPods for listening to music in a hard situation; computers to research information or check the news. Lollathin said new advantages in technology have made America and other places more efficient. “We have experimented in ways to save gas and keep some of our natural resources. “We have been able to create wells and sewage treatment plants., Efficiency is our world’s top prioritjy right now. “ Anna Cermak of St. Mary Central said children have a lot of technology that they did not have years ago., “Our parents used typewriters and chalk boards and did not have any color televisons,” she said. “We have computers and laptops which usallyhave the same software program called Microsoft Word and that is where we can ty pe our papers,; she said. “We can also save what we do and we can print off more than one copy. We can use email to send things to our teachers and we can recedive notes from our teachers,” she said. “We have digital cameras which can capture educational and fun moments in school. We have color televisions and DVD playrs to watch educational programs or movies. These can help children better uderstand what they are lerning in different ways,” she said. Allyson Goclan of St. Mary Central said the Ohio Valley has been changing over the last few decades,” in more of a bad direction than a good one.” Goclan said steel mills, coal mine sand factories used to be prominent in the valley “This is no longer the case. They have been shutting down due to a foreign production of these resources and this has left many employees out of work and many families beneath the poverty line.” Goclan said there has been a delcine in many things, including population . A family member works in the loan department of a bank and is in charge of business loans. With a delcine of businesses, a smaller number of pepole need loans. The delcine of population leaves less people paying taxes and this also leaves businesses closing which will lead to even more people without jobs. Goclan said the family member had a sudden surge in need of loans at the bank due to the search and need for natural gas. In order to get the royalties and land rights, you have to have land or else they are not getting any minerals and naural gas. Goclan said “when I gradua te from high school, I plan to leave the Ohio Valley for college. I would like to go to The Ohio Sate, and would like to move to South or NorthCarolina. I want to get a job in the medical field or be an emergency room surgeon or emergency room doctor. I like to take care of people “It is horrible what has been happening in the Ohio Valley for many years. It is shocking that we have not made an attempt to try to fix it. People do not want to move somewhere where they do not have a job. In the place they are living, they most likely already do. So, in order for more people to move and live here, we need to find a way to bring more jobs to the O hio Valle/Tri State areas,” Goclan said.