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2512 George Mason Drive • P.O. Box 6038 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23456-0038   757.263.1000 • 757.263.1240 TDD

Superintendent's Report to the School Board - November 20, 2012

Chairman Edwards, Vice Chairman Brunke, members of the School Board, and the viewing public -

My report this month is jam-packed with events, projects and academic opportunities for students. But I want to begin by sharing information with you about a group of students from the Global Studies and World Languages Academy who have been studying in Israel.

The nine students and their teacher wrapped up their visit the city of Modiin and returned home safely yesterday, just two days ahead of schedule.

News reports have shown increased hostilities in the Gaza Strip recently, so I thought I should update you on the group’s travels.

Although they were aware of the increased fighting, the students were never in immediate danger. We were in constant contact with their teacher and with officials in Modiin to evaluate the situation and to ensure student safety.

The students say they enjoyed the trip and look forward to sharing what they’ve learned with their classmates back at Tallwood. The visit to Israel was part of a student exchange partnership aimed at increasing global awareness. We are happy to have our students home tonight just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Last week, staff and students across the division observed Veteran’s Day with numerous activities.

  • At some schools, students wrote thank you letters to our servicemen and women such as these displayed at Luxford Elementary.
  • John B. Dey Elementary honored 4 local veterans who shared their experiences and answered questions. Students also created an American flag from their handprints to hang in their classroom to commemorate this special holiday.
  • Over at Corporate Landing Middle School, students were welcomed to an assembly by the school band playing patriotic music and members of Landstown High School’s Color Guard. There was a special recognition for the school’s honored guests - family members, friends, partners and volunteers who are veterans. The program concluded with a video of students sharing their sentiments about what makes a hero.
  • Government teachers and students at Kempsville High School dressed in red, white and blue to show their respect while AVID students wrote thank you letters to veterans employed at the school including security assistant and army veteran Mike Danley.
  • And representatives from several of the district’s high school bands, including Kempsville High, celebrated the day by marching in the annual Veteran’s Day parade at the oceanfront.

It was rewarding to see our students participate in so many ways to honor our veterans and thank them for the sacrifices they have made for our community and country.

As you know, VBCPS is committed to supporting our military partners and our students from military families - which brings me to the next item in my report. Military-connected students at Bayside, Kellam and Tallwood high schools are now getting some additional academic support through the National Math and Science Initiative. The program offers staff and students Advanced Placement exam training, along with an incentive program to foster completion of rigorous AP courses in math, science and English. This STEM-related partnership began last school year with students at Green Run and Salem high schools.

I’ve got a few examples of 21st century skills in action this month. Our students clearly understand social responsibility and interdependence.

  • At Kellam High School, they collected 1,000 coats and blankets for residents of Long Island who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. The items were delivered by a Kellam teacher whose brother lives in the storm-ravaged area of New York.
  • You may have seen on the news that a trailer containing supplies collected by the Princess Anne High School band for storm victims was stolen in New Jersey last week. The band was in New Jersey for a competition when thieves made off with the truck. Band members had collected coats for the super storm relief efforts.
  • And, Princess Anne Elementary hosted a kickball game to raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims. The game was part of the school’s Rachel’s Challenge program and featured students versus staff. The kids got a little help from a few celebrity guests including former Olympian LaShawn Merritt.

Here’s a great story of collaboration that benefits children across the city.

The police department and the school division partnered to distribute 80 refurbished computers to needy families in our community last night – for FREE. Hundreds of computers seized during a police investigation last year got a second life to support student achievement. Once slated for destruction, the Virginia Beach Police Department instead donated the computers confiscated from an online gambling arrest. Students at the Advanced Technology Center refurbished the computers and installed new software prior to distribution. Qualified recipients were selected through an application process. The computer distribution is part of the VA STAR program where obsolete government computers are reconditioned and placed in the homes of students who have no access to technology. Since we joined the VA STAR program in 2009, the division has given away 211 computers.

Thousands of high school students turned out for the division’s annual College Night at the convention center last week. If you’ve ever attended an event such as this, you know that much of the night is spent filling out information cards for each college. Well this year, students could streamline the process by registering for a personalized barcode that college and university reps could scan to gather information. The process seemed to work quite well, giving attendees more time to interact with school representatives.

A slightly younger crowd was on hand for the Academies and Advanced Academic Programs Night held a few weeks earlier. Eighth grade students and their parents got an overview of the division’s seven high school academy programs. Applications for admission for the 2013-14 school year are available now on the school division website,, and in middle and high school guidance offices. The deadline is Feb. 1.

October was National Disability History and Awareness Month. The school board passed a resolution last month encouraging students, staff and citizens to participate in various activities in support of this special month. I thought you might like to see a few examples of how that happened.

  • National Junior Honor Society students at Lynnhaven Middle School took on a project to read twice a week to students with Intellectual Disabilities.
  • Many of our schools posted announcements on their marquees – reminding the community that it was Disability History and Awareness Month. This photo is from Landstown High School.
  • The Regional Community Resource Fair was also held at Landstown High School recently. The event was hosted by the Virginia Beach Special Education Advisory Committee and the Office of Program for Exceptional Children. It featured more than 100 vendors showcasing products and services available to children with disabilities.

Again, these are but a few examples of activities which took place in our schools to support National Disability History and Awareness Month.

Special congratulations go out to the students and staff at Bayside and Glenwood elementary schools, Kemps Landing Magnet School and Plaza Middle School. Each of these schools has been named a 2012 Virginia Naturally School by the department of game and inland fisheries. The award recognizes their efforts to increase environmental awareness and stewardship. Keep up the good – or should I say “green” – work!

And finally, I am pleased to recognize the following students as recipients of the PTA’s September Principles of American Citizenship Award:

  • Vivian W. of Alanton Elementary School;
  • Shafiqa S. from Plaza Middle School; and
  • Jazmin S. of First Colonial High School.

These students were selected based on their demonstration of the character trait of “responsibility.”

That concludes my report for this evening, Mr. Chairman; however, I would like to remind folks to visit our Facebook page – VB Schools – for a look at other activities taking place in our schools. Be sure to “like” the page while you are there. And, you can also follow the division on Twitter @vbschools.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my report for this evening.

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Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017