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BLADENBORO, NC (WWAY) — It was a year ago that West Bladen High School made headlines for several incidents on campus. But a new school year and a new principal have put the school in a whole new light.

At the beginning of the school year principal Todd Finn told WWAY West Bladen will be a whole new school over time. Within one school year the positive changes can already be seen.

As you walk into West Bladen High School you’ll see test scores hung up throughout the school. Former basketball coach turned educator Finn says it’s motivational tools like this that have changed the overall morale of the once questionable school.

“Our whole mindset coming in was that we were going to give the kids so much that they are not going to want to lose it rather than strip them down to nothing where they have nothing to lose,” Finn said. “All too often that’s how we do things in American schools.”

One of the things the administration at West Bladen has given students is responsibility. You will no longer hear bells at the high school. It’s up to students to know when it’s time to head to their next class. Finn says this move has cut back on tardies.

The drop out rate has also decreased while academic scores have increased. It’s all attributed to the school’s new approach on running a school. It’s a school where the principal himself will teach a class each semester, getting involved with the students he oversees.

“When you see scores on EOGs as high as 98 percent in Algebra II, when you see 92 percent in civics, schoolwide two semesters in a row to come in at 80 percent when they never got higher than a 67 in the past in just one year, that’s all about these kids,” Finn said.

So what do students think of all the changes? Senior Lorenzo Drew admits not wanting to come to school last year. Now he doesn’t want to leave.

“I think it’s going to get even better next year,” Drew said. “I’m going to be jealous, because I’m not going to be here to see it, but I’m going to be happy I’m graduating.”

Graduation for West Bladen High School is Saturday. Principal Finn says this year is the first time in school history that the senior class grew in size over the school year, as several dropouts came back to school to get their degree.

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30 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: After one year on job West Bladen principal making impact"

Mom You Say
2015 years 10 months ago

Well thanks for calling me Mom. Let me address your post. I am assuming you are talkin about Mr. Finn as the man with the huge ego. But isn’t it Cross that made an issue out of being “forced” out of West Bladen? Mr. Finn issued a nice statement, only to be railroaded by the Cross worshipers like you. SInce then nobody has heard a word from Mr. Finn. Didn’t talk at the sports awards night, didn’t talk at the church service on Sunday at school, and hasn’t said nothing to nobody about this in the press, even though we all know he got something to say. So for an Ego Man, he sure has been quiet. Now your old daddy seems to be the one who needs to have folks give him a reception like he was dead or something. He aint dead, so why are they having a memorial service for him? He has the Ego. Now that you brought it up, them charges weren’t trumped up. Cross was supposed to meet and talk about them but he is a coward and went over to East before that could happen. Read the other posting area and you will see that. So on those test scores, try 800 kids plus took them tests just last week and mine passed both of hers. You can read the numbers right on their web site. Quit trying to act like that is no big deal. If it wasn’t, why can’t East do the same? So I did some checking in on it, and both schools had to test “95%” of there kids in every subject or else the law is broken and they get come down on. They dont get to pick. So there is your percentage, right from the board. And finally, if he goes, it will be a sad day in the West but a happy day in the East. But guess what you are still stuck with a crazy old coach who can’t win without talent. Sounds like West got them a good one.

Guest of just dropping in on a conversation
2015 years 10 months ago

You wrote “if he goes, it will be a sad day in the West but a happy day in the East.” Why will it be a happy day at East if Finn goes? I don’t get it. I’m only reading the comments and don’t have much to go on. Could you clue is in? Why will it be a happy day at East if Finn goes?

Then you wrote about a “coach who can’t win without talent.” That sounds illogical. Can any coach win without talent? Did you mean the coach has no talent or did you mean talent on the team? I don’t get it.

Finally, When Roger Waters sang, “Who is the strongest, who is the best, who holds the aces, the East or the West. This is the crap our children are learning” he was referring to global politics, but it fits so appropriately here: here the students are watching and this is the crap our students are learning? This, I get.

It IS East vs West
2015 years 10 months ago

It is East vs. West and it has been all year. East has failed academically because all they can do it point fingers at West. If they worried about themselves, maybe they would be doing better. Did you know that the East principal didn’t even let West know that he was talking to Cross in the first place? Maybe if he did, none of the negativity would ave happened. But there is evidence that the negativity is what he wanted. Did you see his facebook page on May 11, when he said “and so it begins”…just waiting for something negative to happen to West? He must have been happy when it did. He has refered to West’s approach as a “quick-fix”. But what has he fixed at his own school, quick or not? The West community didn’t make it this way – they reached out and tried to change things for the better. But East just stayed negative towards West. As a matter of fact, West proclaimed that they were no longer recognizing East as a rival (see their web page). They treated the East basketball times like GOLD back in the winter. What has East done to help things? So, to answer your question, I would say East will be glad to see the catalyst for the positive change at West up and go. Why would they want him to stay? It has never been about Bladen County on the East side. It is only about East. Now that West is having their day, all East wants is to see it fail. But that will not happen if things stay in place. Does that explain it?

2015 years 10 months ago

If they call, if he goes, if Harold Camping was right? What is with all the ifs? If he goes, at least he will be taking the best thing that has happened to WBHS since its beginning. All the coach will be taking is dribble, dribble, dribble!!!! With an occassional snow angel thrown in at mid-court by the coach.

He will have to be careful over at his new school though, because they have some “wicked” and I do mean “wicked” dance moves by their dance(aka step team). Can hear coach saying something close to, look out girls my boys are coming on the floor whether you are done or not. Besides, what you are doing is so wicked and what my boys are doing is so good. If you don’t believe me, go ask the AD; we both have such wonderful records on the court!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2015 years 10 months ago

The NCHSAA investigators may want to talk to you since you seem to have a lot of “inside” information. Maybe you can meet them at the little ditty the coach supporters are throwing for him. There will probably be TV coverage and for sure the Bladen County website at this gathering. You might even win a set of clothing from a certain mens clothing store. And of course the preacher will be there to add his blessings to your testimony about the coach. HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!

2015 years 10 months ago

That is just like the older population to make fun of this situation. These goat commentators probably are not stakeholders. They probably don’t have kids in the county schools. So they can make fun of it. Their advice is to “just get over it.” Just getting over it is not going to fix it if Mr. Finn is forced to leave West Bladen and a replacement is brought in. It will mean starting all over again. Thse older guys who can sit around and poke fun and make up goat jokes and tee hee hee are probably rich old goats themselves. This is serious. Just back off and let the younger folks who have a stake in this handle it. Go back to watching your TV. You must watch a lot of it since you know all about the pop-up goats. You are probably some of the good ole bunch who thinks only money talks and who jump up and down and scream and holler and cuss at sporting events. You probably have done your share of damage to the county already.

Old Goat
2015 years 10 months ago

You young folks can learn a lot from us “old goats”!!! Remember, we are doctors, hopitalists, insurers, and lawyers. Will have to say, that the younger generation are showing a lot of school spirit and faithfulness to their school. They are to be commended for that.

The main point of the Pop up goats is to not take issues so seriously that you fail to back off every once and awhile and have a good old belly laugh. Sorry about that, you young folks don’t have bellies. But I we do hope you get the jest of what we are trying to say!!!!!!!

We do enjoy a good ball game and we do love to holler and have a good time. As for cussing, no; our parents taught us that was not right in public or out of the public. Just like they would have whipped the day lights out of us if we had come home with a stud in our lip, or anywhere else on the body that they and God had brought into this world.

Our generation has done more for this county and country than any other generation. If you don’t believe it, just ask Tom Brokaw the former NBC new commentator. We do have some allies along the way now such as Mr. Finn at West Bladen High School. Look out, the old goats will be out at Knight field this fall having a good time.

God bless you Mr. Finn and all the young people in our school system. The “old goats” will be out there doing their part when the clean up day comes around and especially when ball season comes around again. We sure hope Mr. Pait the new head basketball coach does not do snow angels on the side of the court at mid court!!!!!!!!

East Bladen Gal
2015 years 10 months ago

We do not need any other leadership at East Bladen. Mr. Batchelor is doing a fantastic job. Please keep your negative comments about our school to yourself. This is NOT a EAST vs WEST thing…wwe are all in ths together. As a county we should all invest in the future of ALL students so they can go out into the world and do good in the name of Bladen County Schools.

Renee Horton
2015 years 10 months ago

Congratulations to West Bladen on their successful year! I would like to point out that East Bladen continues its successful traditions as well and that Principal Jeremy Batchelor and his staff continue to lead with great success. We are very fortunate that Bladen County has two outstanding high schools filled with students of great potential who are being lead by dedicated professionals. Here’s to the continued success of ALL Bladen County schools in the coming year!

Mom who knows
2015 years 10 months ago

Too bad that they can not work together to improve the county. These guys don’t like each other. There is no doubt in my mind that unless one of them leaves, these two schools will never be able to work together to improve.but as far as I know they improving at West already. But let’s see what happens in the next two weeks. If July comes, and they both still in their schools, I am gonna personally visit them each and tell them to try and get along. But I ain’t holding my breath. Word is that West will be looking for a new leader, as the one they got has had it with the silly nonsense and he is out the door faster than lightning on a hot June night. This ain’t New York or Boston or wherever he is from. This is not about education, it is about Bladen politics and he is an outsider to it. As much as he has done, he should’ve known coming in. Bladen County don’t want to be successful if it mean that one school may look bad and the other look good. They’d rather them both be in the middle or worse. That is why I ain’t holding my breath. A sad, sad day is coming. We go from that beautiful graduation outside with the flowers and the kids and the way it used to be in our day just pretty. But now that may be all going away, and I believe it is because Bladen County can’t deal with the difference between two schools. So they side with the one who is theirs all along at East. It probably is best of we don’t pretend it to be like it really isn’t. They never wanted Mr. Finn here anyway, and now they may get what they want. Again, a sad day for West, but those folks at the Board and at East will have a parade. I feel sorry for them kids.

Old Goat
2015 years 10 months ago

“We’ll trade the “old” Cross for another (state) crown any day.

We will not trade the old rugged cross and what was done on it for anything.

God speed coach Cross.

2015 years 10 months ago

Thank you, Mr. Finn, for making my friends change their minds about switching schools and for bringing in more opportunity for us students. Don’t listen to the negativity; I think we can all honestly say we’re above that.

I’d trade Cross as a coach for you as a principal any day.

-A Sophomore

2015 years 10 months ago

Still can’t get over Coach Cross leaving because of him

Finn Supporter
2015 years 10 months ago

I can’t believe you or anybody else is more concerned about a crazy coach leaving than a Wonderful Principal who is doing positive things for WBHS. It makes me sick to my stomach to see that people in Bladen County are more concerned about athletics than academics. The mentality of you people is twisted!! If Mr. Finn leaves ya’ll are loosing a real prize!! You won’t miss it until he’s gone.

Guest 2010
2015 years 10 months ago

Mr. Finn won’t leave West Bladen. He made it what it is. A decent place to send my children to.

He is stubborn and can take the heat.

Coach Cross isn’t the only coach that should have been gone. I like Cross and think that he will be an asset to East Bladen. Mr. Finn certainly is more important than a ball coach.

2015 years 10 months ago

2009 Grad you are misinformed. Cross left because he could not work for someone who actually has standards and expectations of all of his employees. He went to a place with a lesser team because they would let him do what Finn would not. But this story isn’t about Cross – he had his story. This is about a school that came together and did what your class could not do under poor leadership. I do not blame you, for all you had to look forward to while you were there at that school was Cross and his antics, and a good basketball team. Now there is much more positive. In fact, the biggest negative story of the year is cenered around Cross. Well, that is temporary. It will certainly resurface if/when this Principal leaves West for a school that values education over sports drama. I think it is a matter of time, so maybe Cross will then come back to West, and we can start all over again.

Guest 123
2015 years 10 months ago

No one else can get over it either since the “Coach” had put every other principal that West Bladen High School had ever had in their place. Wonder if he will try that with the principal over at his new school? Hopefully he has learned his lesson and there will be no snow angel antics over at the new school.

And wonder who will go to his appeciation get together? Will it be people from his new school to congratulate him on the players from West Bladen High School beating his new school just about every time they met on the court? Will it be his former and immediate past players to thank him for forsaking West Bladen staff and students? Or maybe the NCHSAA representatives will go to question him about the “assumed rules violations” that had been reported. No doubt, a certain Bladen County website will have a representative there!!!!

By the way, don’t such occassions usually take place when a person retires? Maybe the friends who are putting on this little ditty for the “Coach” are trying to tell him something!!!!!

Maybe they should be putting on a little ditty for two men who really deserve it, Mr. McKoy and Mr. Kelly who will be retiring the end of June from over 30 years each in Bladen County School service.

Mom who cares
2015 years 10 months ago

I should be happy but I am upset. This man has come in and over just one school year, our kids have been successful. Our black kids, white kids, mexican kids, all kids. The school is safe, the test scores are great, and kids are happy. Speaking as a parent, I am happy too. But people who still support a coach who quit want to crucify the princpal. The fact is that a coach who broke rules decided to leave the school. A coach who has just a handful of kids is being chosen over a man who has to work with about 800 kids? My question is simple. Can that coach run a school like this? If he can, why don’t he? It seems to me that if we have to make a choice, we SHOULD choose a school that is now on the map for a good thing. All of the Fin haters out there can just watch their coach over at East Bladen, and leave West alone. Who cares if you are mad that he left. The point is, he made that decision. I was in that school today to get my daughter and I was so happy to see that the school was just doing so well. It was clean, the kids were all smiles, and there was just a good feeling. But a bunch of cranky old folks (my apologies but all of that Coach’s supporters seem to be) who cant accept that their coach is no longer in power want to keep trying to run our principal out of town. All over a basketball coach? I asked him today if he was going to leave these kids. He just smiled, gave me a hug, and said that what was done was done and we’d just have to wait see what happened. That wasn’t a no. And I know why. Bladen County, we will reap what we sow. People who think they know how to run a school are attacking him and his family. Who do you think you are? I hear the stories. Now this news story comes out. It is like they are trying to set us up for the fall. Well Bladen County, we had it good, and if we don’t have what it takes to keep him here with our kids, we need to change the higher ups, get new board members, or boycott the businesses that are behind all of this. I am calling for all Moms out there to do whatever it takes to make sure these people who would rather have a coach in there than a principal who knows what he is doing put them back in their place. We know who you are, too. Bladen OnLine, a clothing store owner where MY kids shop at, and a couple of more places who think they own this county. Any of you try to be the principal at that school house? I don’t think so. You all better wise up, because we will be heard, and you will know it when we decide to speak out. We should be proud of these kids. We shouldn’t be celebrating a coach who broke rules, then quit, then tried to make himself look like he was the victim. We should support the school, not a guy who dont want to be there. If you want to see some angry folks, let us find out that our principal left the school over the mess that you made. If I was him I would go. I don’t blame him. People talking trash to his wife over a coach? All that over a coach? I am just glad I am not him, and I hope he stays. But I think it may be too late. Moms get ready.

westbladen mom
2015 years 10 months ago

I agree with you 100%. My child attitude has changed and actually enjoying going to school this year. I feel that he is in a safer environment than last year. School has about the students and their grades. The students have changed and became more motivated and you can see it in less violence and increases in scores. MR. FINN has made positive changes and has done a great job.

Guest 14
2015 years 10 months ago

Get over it Mom. No one had posted anything here about your man with the huge Ego. Let it go. Everyone else has moved on, but no they haven’t forgot. You’re happy with the man, so life is good.
But a few clarifications, the rules that were supposedly broken were trumped up after the fact in an attempt to cover his rear end by Ego-man. The kid in question lives 2 miles from the school and is hardly a program-changer.
Still seeing great test scores, but no one is saying what percentage of the class took the test. Hey if you test the best 15 and dont test the rest, you get good scores. Hey I hope 100% of the class took the test, just let us know while you are bragging.
Glad everything is working out well for you, but it is a long time till August. Let’s see what happens when Cumbertland or Hoke comes calling.

Bladen County
2015 years 10 months ago

Amen you spoke the truth,let the man do his job and butt out. Coach Cross is gone and that was his decission to leave, I say great work Mr. Finn you did not kiss butt and because of that the coach left. Keep up the great work. My child is a senior this year and you have made it a great last year for her and for that I truely thank you.

Finn Fan
2015 years 10 months ago

Todd and Heather Finn have done wonders for West Bladen. How many times have I seen the two of them as a team out at that school working, planning and executing programs such as the Miss West Bladen pageant. All this “you ran our coach off” junk just indicates again that it is that some old “yahoo” mentality of the good ole boy South that continues to plague this county. I grew up around here and am proud of it. But let’s be sensible here. Athletics v. Education. Show of hands, now. How many people made it in life because they played sports? Now, how many people made it because they were well educated? Was sports a pre-requisite for the job you have today — or was a degree or high school diploma more important? I’ll present another scenario. Name the educational professional who most influenced your life? How many people will name a coach v. a teacher? Mr. Finn is a former coach and an educator — the ultimate package. Mr. Finn has/had a dream of helping to bring this county into the 21st Century. Sadly, this county is not ready for that, or so it seems. We even have ministers taking the time to write long letters to the newspaper supportive of athletic personnel, but when was the last time you read such accolades for an educator? You can say that coaches are also educators, and many of them are, and, athletics serves a role in this world and in this county, as it does. But if you wanted to see Todd Finn the West Bladen parents who support him know, in action, you should have come to some of the West Bladen sporting events. If any of you had taken the time to come to any East/West games you would see that Todd Finn treated each team’s players with the ultimate respect each deserved. Let’s take the East/West varsity basketball game, for example. It was Todd Finn’s idea to present bouquets of flowers and formal recognition to two of EAST Bladen’s female players. Mind you, this game was being played on the turf of WEST Bladen, but East Bladen players were recognized? Now there are those of us who would say “how cool is that?” There are the yahoos, though, who would say, “Who does he think he is, honoring East Bladen over West Bladen?” That is because people with deeply entrenched stereotypical thinking just don’t get it. Todd Finn’s philosophy is to give credit where credit is due– whether it be his own students or those of the rival school. Todd Finn is a class act, who the unwashed in Bladen county are just not ready to accept. For those of you who covet sports scholarships for your children so they can carry on mama’s and daddy’s sports dreams (this is called living your life through your child and is quite unhealthy for the child), and who are so resoundingly trying to make Mr. Finn move, consider this. You will not realize what you had until it is gone. Also, you are teaching your child a life skill that will lead to nothing but enemies and controversy: If you don’t like what somebody did, then get just the right people to badmouth them and ruin their reputation, and then run them off! I live in this county, support this county, pay taxes in this county, and pray for this county. Your West Bladen student’s best chance is right there at that school today, right now, looking after your child’s safety and education. That best chance is embodied in Todd Finn. How summarily we tend to take the valuable and exceptional things for granted…

R. E. G.
2015 years 10 months ago

Please remind the new principal of West Bladen H. S., Mr. Todd Finn, that numbers without units are nothing more than numbers.
As seen on TV 3 this evening, the banner that displayed the numbers 368,on a banner as conveyed by TV 3’s reporter Ramon Herrera’s article.

WWAYTV3’s attention to these items will demonstrate to the viewing audience, that the staff and “News Team” are experienced and knowledgeable.

Thank you for your consideration to this matter.

2015 years 10 months ago

You are mistaken. That number now reads 650. It represents 650 tests that were taken and passed this semester. Mr. Finn can probably teach you a lesson in units. Since nobody else has ever been able to obtain these results, who do you have in mind that could do a better job, what evidence do you have to support this name, and where is he/she now? Perhaps East Bladen should get him/her.

2015 years 10 months ago

Those who attend our school know that the number on that banner indicates the number of students who have achieved at least a Level 3 on their EOC’s. Any West Bladen student already knows what number is required for our school to be at 80% proficiency. Our number is posted everyday so that we know where we are at achieving our school-wide goal. By the way, our banner goal reads 652 as of today, so “unofficially” we are over 80% proficient on all our EOC testing. If I am not mistaken, it read 368 on the day that WWAY visited. If not, we really got busy in the last day!! If you were to walk into our school now, you would see at least 3 banners indicating subject scores higher than 90% and big gains in the others. I will agree that the staff and “News Team” at WWAYTV3 are experienced and knowledgeable. That is why they came to visit us! I suggest that if you do not truly know what is going on at West Bladen, like we as Knights and the WWAYTV3 staff and “News Team” do, you find something else to comment on.

Finn Believer
2015 years 10 months ago

I am a very strong supporter of Mr. Finn. I have know him a long time and know what a wonderful person he is overall. The things that him and his faculty/staff at WBHS have done this year is simply amazing. When I found out he got the job at WBHS I knew things were going to turn around there for the good because that is what he is about. Anybody who is against this man and not for supporting him is crazy!! The things that he can continue to do at WBHS with your support would continue to have that school on the news but for positive reasons. It grieves my heart to know that people are trying to get rid of this man over a basketball coach leaving. Hello people, what happened to the importance of academics! If ya’ll lose Mr. Finn you loose one of the best things that ever happened to WBHS!! It’s time to wise up and think about the things that really matter!!

2015 years 10 months ago

WaS going to say GO GO GO Todd and Heather Finn, as in cheering the old school team on to victory. What I really want to say is STAY STAY STAY at West Bladen High School. You have started a new day at WBHS. Can’t wait for the second annual “clean up spruce up” day to be scheduled before the next school year begins. If they give out an award for the best high school in the state; seriously believe, Todd and Heather Finn can HELP bring that award to West Bladen within five years. They will need help KNIGHT family, so let’s keep on supporting them at every turn. STAY KNIGHTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2015 years 10 months ago

This post will get around to the news article at hand.

Picture this!!!

Is it just me or do these goats representing an insurance company look more and more human? They keep popping up everywhere. And aren’t they so nifftily dressed.

Hence the tie in to this news article. They keep popping up everywhere, even on a certain Bladen County website. And they may be getting their clothing ensembles from a certain “men’s clothing store” in Bladen County.

The Democrats have their “donkey”. The Republicans have their “elephant”. Wonder if the unaffiliated voter will adopt the “goat”? And then the all important question; if I go to the little ditty to honor the “coach”, should I got dressed as an elephant, donkey, or goat? Don’t know about you, but those goats are looking mighty good and “they seem to have the ability to POP UP anywhere”.

Got to go and call the “coach” and see what he is going dressed up as. To be sure it will not be as a “Scapegoat”. That is, unless he is taking his cue from Sophia Patrillo on an episode of “The Golden Girls”.

Mr. Finn may attend and carry the “coach” a bouquet of flowers to show him there are no hard feelings and that “he respects the opposing team”. Think it is about time for a Saint Olaf story from Rose Neiland.

Lighten up Bladen, this episode in our history “will cone to pass” and we can get back to more inportant things like, “who actually won the battle at the Tory Hole Park-the Whigs or the Tories? Or is that actually the plural of Tory?

All this from an old man and you know what they say about “old loving to stare at goats”.

Guest Host
2015 years 10 months ago

You are right.

Those goats are beginning to look better and better to this old unaffliliated voter.

Much much better than a donkey or elephant.

Former Dems and Repubs (now known as the goats of distinction)will not be made a “Scapegoat” of any more and remember we ave the ability to pop up anywhere!!!! Beware.

Now, as relating to the original news article; welcome Mr. Travis Pait to the West Bladen High School campus(contingent upon being approved by the BOE). Looks like we are getting a good young “full-time coach.

Do KNIGHT fans see an undefeated season coming on? Could be!!! And of course, that will mean at least two wins over the other high school in the county.

Goat Cheese Lover
2015 years 10 months ago

The pop up goats not only dress well but evidently they are involved with Doctors, Hospitals, and Insurance. Must be some financially well off goats.

We know Doctors fare very well finacially.

Hospitals have all kind of money. If you don’t believe it, just ask
Mr. Nagowski over at Cape Fear Valley. Heard they recently pulled off a “sweet deal” with the Bladen County Comissioners in “buying” Bladen County Hospital.

And Insurance Companies, we all know they just have unlimited resources.

And last but not least. Anytime Doctors, Hospitals, and Insurance companies are involved; there have to be some lawyers around somewhere. And the elephant and donkey parties thought they had money!!!!

But money is not everything. The new head basketball coach over at West Bladen High School is coming out of the insurance business to be our coach. Do we have another Junior Nance on our hands? Believe he also helped bring a state championship to Bladen County. D J Mason is every bit as good as Trelonnie Owens was; so it just may be.

Time for some Knight ball


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