FEBRUARY 15, 2000

This evening’s report — I’m pleased to say — offers continued evidence of VBCPS student and staff successes — scholastically, professionally, and personally. The variety of achievement again this month is wide-reaching and significant in its positive reflection of our school division.

Let me begin with congratulations to the many students and teacher coaches participating in the WordMasters Challenge, a national language arts competition entered by more than 240,000 students annually and which consists of three separate meets held at intervals during the school year.

On the elementary and middle school levels, the program is an exercise in critical thinking which requires students to use their reasoning skills to complete analogies expressing various relationships.I’m happy to report that a team of third grade students at Ocean Lakes Elementary placed eighth in the nation in the challenging Blue Division of this year’s first meet. The team was supervised by gifted resource teacher Kippy Sinclair.

King’s Grant fifth grader, Nicholas E. is one of only 196 fifth graders nationally to earn a perfect score in this year’s first meet of Wordmasters. Nicholas was prepared for the competition by fifth grade teacher, Tish Gemmill.

Two teams from Old Donation Center, competing in the very difficult Gold Division of the challenge also achieved outstanding results. The fourth grade team, coached by Joyce Hirst and Philippa Lipscomb, tied for eighth place in the nation, while the fifth grade team, supervised by Ann Colorado and Lynn Elliott, placed fourth in the nation. Two of the school’s students won highest honors for individual achievement as well: fifth graders Taylor B. and Brian M. were among 28 students nationwide to earn perfect scores in the meet.

On the high school level, the challenge is for ninth and tenth grade students to analyze and interpret poetry, and eleventh and twelfth graders, prose. The texts can range from such classics as Shakespeare’s poetry or short fiction by Joseph Conrad or Hemingway to such recent work as essays by George Will or Lance Morrow. More than 15,000 high school students nationally competed in the second meet in which Kempsville High School — supervised by Gail Agor — won highest honors in the Gold Division.

Congratulations to all the students who competed in this outstanding test of language arts skills and to their teacher coaches. We’ll look forward to more winning reports as the school year progresses.

As we all know, the Standards of Learning are a driving force in our schools as administrators, teachers, students, and parents are working together to ensure the division maintains its record of steady improvement.

Three of our schools were recently cited by the Virginia Department of Education’s Governor’s Best Practices Center for their significant progress on their spring 1999 SOL tests. I congratulate Dr. Caryl Felty of Thalia Elementary, Mr. Joshua Darden of Bayside High School, and Mr. Bernard Morgan of Tallwood High School for their achievements. Congratulations to their respective staffs and student bodies. Well done!

Well done also to Linda Koutoufas, Standards of Learning teacher specialist, who was recently invited to meet with Secretary of Education Richard Riley to give input into his annual State of American Education speech slated for a March delivery in Raleigh. This year Secretary Riley’s speech will highlight the Standards issue. Linda was one of two teachers invited to participate, along with superintendents, mayors, business leaders, college professors, and educational consultants from across the nation. Virginia Beach school division will be held up as an example for other states to emulate for our practice of fostering higher standards in our schools using a supportive, rather than coercive or punitive approach.

Students and staff continue to work for the community, locally and internationally.

Congratulations are in order for two Corporate Landing Middle School teachers who were selected as youth sponsors by Operation Smile. Donna Schucker, an eighth-grade science teacher will be going to Romania this summer and Robert Vanik, a project X-cd and sixth-grade math and science teacher will be going to Brazil. Both teachers will act as chaperones and escorts for students as well as providers of educational health services.

Congratulations also to the citywide SCA students who, under the direction of Diane Anderson, coordinator of student leadership, recently raised more than $5,500 to benefit diabetes research. Citywide SCA chairwoman Amanda Logsdon and committee chairman Lamar Braithwaite spearheaded the fundraiser, Rave 2000: Dance Away Diabetes. This is the eleventh consecutive year the students have raised money for charity through this event.

The United Way Campaign this year was very successful. Not only did students and employees contribute more than $371,000, but we bested last year’s total by almost $20,000. That is remarkable. I want to commend Vikki Lewis and her staff who worked so hard to organize and run this record-breaking campaign. Special kudos also to Trantwood Elementary, Kemps Landing Select School, and Tallwood High School students for attaining the highest per capita student contribution. Well done.

I also want to recognize the Salem High Sundevils who took the plunge into the ocean on Saturday, February 5th to raise money for Special Olympics. Several students and staff members took part and donations totaled $1250. Congratulations to assistant principal Nancy Marslander and her team members Mitch Hirsch, Joe Molineaus, Rudy Van Oekel, Mark Kelsey, and Chris Livengood — all members of her staff — and students John H., Erin K., and Tim M..

Virginia Beach schools are "cooking up" some winners as evidenced by the showing made by student chefs at the recent International Food Services Executives Association Competition.

Ten students from Ms. Patti Wilson’s Hospitality and Catering Services class at Kempsville High School were awarded silver medals in a variety of categories, and Norman Harman won a $3,000 scholarship to the Culinary College of his choice for the fall of 2000. What is remarkable is that this is the first time Patti’s catering students entered this competition.

Also for the first time in 16 years, the Technical and Career Education Center won the Vo-Tech competition. In total, 550 students participated. Congratulations to all who participated, and especially our winners and their teachers.

Also from the Tech Center... 21 of Judy Doyle’s Advertising Design students at the Career & Technical Center have placed in the Virginia Opera Poster Contest, and three of her students — working as a team — won the "High School Rising Star" competition from the Advertising Federation of Greater Hampton Roads. The students designed an advertising campaign for Hope House Foundation which included a newspaper ad, a brochure, a billboard and poster design.

Two national companies have honored several of our students:

The Gatorade Company has selected Cox High School senior Katie G. as the Virginia High School Volleyball Player of the Year. Gilman becomes a member of the Gatorade Circle of Champions and eligible for consideration for the National High School Volleyball Player of the Year.

The Coca-Cola Scholars foundation has designated Shameia R. of Princess Anne High School and Jessica H. of Cox High School as semifinalists in the 1999-2000 Coca-Cola Scholars Program. This is quite an accomplishment since only 1,965 semifinalists were selected from more than 117,000 applicants. Congratulations to both students and best of luck as they progress to the next level of competition.

I have several special events to highlight. Among them....

Yesterday was the start of foreign language week in our schools. Students and teachers celebrate the culture and diversity represented by foreign languages with a variety of activities and special events each day.

Tomorrow afternoon, at Tallwood High School, we’ll be dedicating the Career and Academic Preparation (or CAP) Centers, the latest component of the Creating Futures Partnership School-to-Work Grant. The intent is to develop a comprehensive career development system and integrate it into the total academic program. The Tech Center and all 10 high schools will house a CAP Center, and Tallwood’s CAP Center will serve as the model.

Also tomorrow evening is the Technical and Career Education Center’s annual Open House. Festivities begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m. I encourage everyone to go and experience all that the Tech Center does to help our youngsters achieve their career and educational goals.

Members of the School Board, that concludes the superintendent’s report.