Sunday, November 24, 2019

A Time to be Thankful

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, it is an appropriate time to pause and reflect on everything we have to be thankful for. 

In addition to my family and my health, many of my thoughts are about all of the great things happening throughout our division.  As I’ve visited schools, I’ve seen caring, dedicated people whose actions, both big and small, are making a significant impact on the lives of our students.  I have met parents who entrust us to educate their children and prepare them to be successful citizens once they leave our doors.  I have listened to members of the community who know the importance of high-performing schools to the health of our county. I have interacted with students and heard about their hopes and dreams, and the high expectations they have for themselves and want us to have for them. For Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks for supportive staff, students, parents and citizens and their vision for Isle of Wight County Schools.  With these pieces in place, we are in a position to do incredible things to help every child discover their unique gifts and talents.

Over the break, I hope you will take time to think about everything you have to be thankful for and remember those who are less fortunate.  Finally, I wish you a wonderful holiday as you spend time with family and friends. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Honoring our Veterans

Our schools and offices are closed Monday in honor of Veterans Day.  On Thursday, there were activities and ceremonies throughout the division to celebrate Veterans for their service.   The programs are distinguished events that include numerous student performances.  From songs by the school band and chorus, to student speakers, and theatrical performances, the schools celebrate the brave members of the Armed Forces and their family members who support them.  I have never seen a school division and community celebrate Veterans Day quite like Isle of Wight County!

Below is a video that highlights moments from our Veterans Day programs held last year.  It's a beautiful tribute to the men and women who serve our country.  We will also be sharing pictures from this year's events on our Facebook page.  If you know someone who served in the military, or someone who is currently a member of the military, please share the video with them.  I realize many of them may not be able to attend ceremonies taking place in their honor and I hope this video and pictures on Facebook can convey our appreciation. We owe so much to the men and women of our military for the sacrifices they have made to ensure our freedom. 

Honoring our Veterans (video)

Monday, November 4, 2019

Recognizing and Celebrating Alumni

Windsor High and Smithfield High both celebrated Homecoming during October.  The tradition has been around for decades and it originated as a way to welcome "home" the football team after several weeks of road games.  While that may not be the case anymore, it is still a time when alumni will make the trek back to their high school to see their alma mater and reconnect with their classmates and community.

Both SHS and WHS took time recently to recognize some of their alumni for outstanding accomplishments.  On Friday night, October 25, the Dukes introduced the Class of 2019-2020 Windsor High/Georgie D. Tyler High Alumni Hall of Fame.  The purpose of the award is to honor graduates from both of the Windsor schools, who have made their Alma Mater proud through career, community, military, and or/philanthropic accomplishments. 

The inductees included Carla Duck, and Mr. and Mrs. Drake.  Carla is a 1983 graduate of Windsor High School.  Carla was an employee of Isle of Wight County Public in the technology department, at Central Office, and as an ISS coordinator at WHS.  She is a member of Chapel Grove Faith Community Church. She spends much of her time serving others through meal preparation for those in need in the local community and visiting those that are house bound.  Linda and Jerry Drake are 1971 graduates of Windsor High School. Mr. Drake retired from Union Camp and Mrs. Drake currently serves as a school bus driver for Isle of Wight County Schools. They are faithful supporters of every program at Windsor High School and have served as ticket takers at WHS events for the last 25 years. The Drakes serve as the unofficial hospitality committee:  sharing a story and a smile with all members of the Dukes family on multiple nights a week.  

That same night, Smithfield High recognized members of the 1969 undefeated football team, along with members from earlier undefeated Westside High football teams.  In 1969, Isle of Wight County Schools integrated and students from the all-black Westside High moved to SHS.  There were vocal groups throughout Smithfield who worried about the impact of desegregation.  The young men who played on the football team that year rallied the community as they continued winning game after game, finishing their season a perfect 10-0.  The members of that team helped to ease concerns and brought people together as they sat with each other in the stands and rooted for the Packers. 

Both Windsor High and Smithfield High have a rich history within the county, but we must also remember the other high schools that were part of this county that live on in the names of some of our current schools--Westside High School and Georgie D. Tyler High School.  One of the things I have seen from our emphasis on deeper learning and authentic experiences has been more connections with the community.  The recent recognitions at both high schools are excellent examples of making those connections and honoring those who are forever a Duke or a Packer.
Smithfield High/Westside High Football Team

WHS Hall of Fame Honorees (photo courtesy of Stephen Cowles, Windsor Weekly)