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In this issue:
- Students have lofty goal
- Winner, winner, chicken dinner: Chef's Challenge
- Counselor enjoys work with families
- Warwick teacher honored
- NNPS receives school security grant
- All-City, middle-school track championships
- News, Notes and Calendar
Aviation Academy building a small plane.
Forgive the students and staff at the Aviation Academy if they have their heads in the clouds. A new project - building a fully functional, two-passenger airplane - has grabbed everyone's attention.
The adventure is made possible by Eagle's Nest Projects (ENP), which donated the do-it-yourself kit, valued at around $75,000. The nonprofit group, based in Texas, was founded to encourage young people to pursue aviation. This is the group's ninth donation/collaboration.
Project mentor Kent Stitt is responsible for the collaboration. Stitt, who is retired from the Air Force, knows Chuck Curtis, technology support specialist at the Aviation Academy. After he met Eagle's Nest CEO Ernie Butcher at an air show in Suffolk, Stitt and Aviation Academy faculty members put together a plan, and the construction project was cleared for takeoff.a
Stitt, who currently works as an Air Force contractor, is a perfect mentor for the project. He's built his own plane, an RV-7A, a higher-performance version of the Van's RV-12 model the Aviation Academy students will build. Stitt says the biggest lesson he learned as a result of his efforts is "Patience. You don't want to rush to do something. You have to do it right. There are no shortcuts."
Stitt says the construction process is good preparation for flying: "The building is part of the journey to flying," he explains. "You have to think ahead quite a bit. You have to look at it as small, little steps. If you look at it like building an airplane, you'd never do it." Stitt spent eight years building his plane, twice as long as he expected. Unlike the RV-12 the students will build, his model didn't include thorough, step-by-step instructions.
Stitt, whose wife teaches kindergarten in York County, says he expects Aviation Academy students to learn teamwork and build confidence as they work on their aircraft. "I'm itching to get in there and help these guys get building," he adds.
The first shipment of parts arrived at the Aviation Academy in August. Assembly could take a couple of years. The maker of the kit, Van's Aircraft, estimates construction of the RV-12 will require 700-900 hours. The build might be accomplished more quickly at the Aviation Academy, where students already possess some of the knowledge and skills required for the project. Some work can be done during class, but students will stay after school.
Aviation Academy Director Aaron Smith says juniors and seniors in the program will serve in a variety of roles (inventory control, quality control, public relations) as they build the plane. Students had to apply for the different positions. Job interviews were part of the process, too. There are about 20 students in the core team, according to electronics teacher Dhyronn Goggins.
Bob Kelly, ENP's founder, says, "We're really excited about the project." Kelly says he started the organization because "I was failing at retirement." He says that after working in advertising and marketing, he needed a creative outlet. He loved working with aircraft and young people, and found a way to put the interests together.
Kelly, who also has built a plane, says personal development often goes hand-in-hand with the construction project for students. "There is real growth there, and it's almost a spiritual kind of thing. We're teaching teamwork, leadership, craftsmanship and pride (personal responsibility in daily efforts). That's one of the biggest things I see."
Kelly says he's seen students become more accomplished in public speaking and writing after working on one of the planes. Smith says he aims to get students in a variety of subjects involved in the project, not just those in aviation-specific classes. That means students in 10th- and 11 th-grade English will create and maintain a blog to follow the progress of construction.
The plane model is considered an experimental, light sport aircraft. "Experimental" just means it isn't manufactured commercially. Before it leaves the
ground, it will be inspected by officials from the Federal Aviation Administration. Eventually, the plane will be sold and the proceeds returned to the
Eagle's Nest Program. The model has detachable wings (and safeguards that prevent it from being flown if the wings aren't attached correctly), and can be
transported on a trailer.
Teams compete in the kitchen.
Culinary arts students, with the help of Child Nutrition Services managers and industry professionals, competed Oct. 11 for a chance to rewrite the menu in high-school cafeterias.
The event, called the Chef's Challenge, pitted teams from five Newport News Public Schools against one another. Each team included a cafeteria manager and a New Horizons culinary arts student from an NNPS high school. Students from the Culinary Institute of Virginia and a guest chef from a local restaurant rounded out the team. The competition was sponsored by RD Fresh, a Florida company that produces refrigeration dehumidifiers.
Teams had a half-hour to strategize about the two dishes they would prepare: an entrée featuring one of three pre-cooked proteins (ground beef, diced chicken or diced ham) and a dish that featured fresh or frozen broccoli. All of the teams had access to the same pantry of school cafeteria staples (mammoth cans of corn, giant jars of jalapenos and oversized bags of shredded cheese, plus spices by the gallon. Milk, by contrast, was available in single-serve sizes). Produce Source provided fresh vegetables that teams could incorporate in their dishes.
The competition took place - where else - in a high-school cafeteria, at Menchville High School. The teams began at 10-minute intervals and each team had a designated preparation area and convection oven. The teams shared use of industrial steamers and cleanup areas. They had an hour to prep and cook before serving their creations to the judges.
The dishes were judged on flavor, appearance and overall experience. Judges included members of the School Board and City Council (Shelly Simonds and Bert Bateman, respectively), New Horizons teacher Tonya Ward, RD Fresh owner Steve Gerson, a Culinary Institute of Virginia student and Travis Brust, executive chef of the Williamsburg Inn.
The Heritage High School team was up first. Their entrée was a hybrid macaroni and cheese, with chicken and broccoli. They also made a vegetable soup. Once in the kitchen, team members peeled off to get started, one toasting bread for crumbs, another methodically chopping carrots, a third melting butter for the cheese sauce on a flattop. Periodically, the students huddled over a cutting board, washed utensils or wheeled a cart over to the steamer.
Team Two, representing Warwick High School, joined the fray. They were planning to make teriyaki chicken and vegetables over rice. One student coated the chicken with a marinade. Another student sliced green bell peppers. A third member of the team rinsed the rice while a fourth member painstakingly turned baby carrots into flower garnishes.
Team Three, from Menchville High School, entered the kitchen, having decided on a southwestern chicken casserole with black beans and flavored tortillas. The dish would be served with fiesta corn and fresh salsa. The Menchville team lined up in front of a row of steamers and ovens as measuring cups, ladles, spoons and tongs dangled overhead.
"Who's got broccoli in the steamer? I'm gonna set it to cook," someone yelled.
"Team One, fifteen minutes," Deck Hankins, a representative from RD Fresh's Mid-Atlantic office, announced with a grin.
The first team stepped up to the cafeteria steam table to dish up its creations. A few students who lingered after the half-day dismissal peered through the cafeteria doors. Observers and Menchville staffers followed the judges through the line, marveling at the generous portions. Within a few minutes, the place was as quiet as a church.
"Team Two, are you ready to present?" Hankins asked. The group had its three components in separate pans. Now, the carrot flowers rested atop a bed of rice. Tomato rosettes provided a contrast in the vegetable pan.
After serving a crowd that seemed to grow by the minute, Team Teriyaki cleaned up its station and moved out of the kitchen. Team members didn't sample the competitors' creations, confident of their food. The Warwick team had appointed one person to move around the kitchen to facilitate preparation. They'd simplified their menu after entering the kitchen, too.
Team Four, from Woodside High School, prepared chicken cacciatore and a broccoli-cheese soup. The fifth team, from Denbigh High School, offered a pair of soups. The judges scribbled on clipboards, finishing their assessments. Menchville Principal Bobby Surry sampled some vegetarian fare. Menchville CTE teacher Mary Daniels and school nurse Mary Hill endorsed the teriyaki chicken and the soups.
Finally, it was time to present the trophies. The Menchville team was runner-up. The Warwick team's teriyaki dish was declared the winner. RD Fresh
presented a banner to hang in the school cafeteria. Cathy Alexander, executive director of Nutrition and Wellness, said both dishes were likely to appear
on school menus. She and the other competition organizers were already talking about a head-to-head challenge with Hampton schools, and then perhaps South
Hampton Roads schools.
'We're a village.'
Daryl Williams grows a bit teary-eyed when she talks about former students.
Williams, professional school counselor at An Achievable Dream Middle & High School, has worked for Newport News Public Schools since 2001, all of them with An Achievable Dream.
After teaching in elementary schools, Williams says, she realized she had a heart for counseling and went back to school. She did substance abuse counseling work for the Air Force before becoming a school counselor in North Carolina.
She began her tenure at NNPS as an elementary school counselor at An Achievable Dream Academy. After her job interview with then-Director Thelma Spencer and Principal Richard Coleman, she says she had a feeling she was on the verge of a major life change and wasn't sure she was ready. But, Williams says she was impressed by the teamwork she witnessed. "I fell in love with it," she explains.
Williams moved to the middle school in 2002 and currently works with high-school students. Her experience has given her a special perspective: She's known many students since they were young. That dynamic is fulfilling for Williams, who didn't get to follow up with her students when she was a military spouse. She says she wondered about certain students, how their lives had turned out. Her eyes well up when she talks about a former student who looked her up.
Her current job has her working not just with students, but with their families, too. Parents of seniors have a group dinner every marking period. Williams says the school receives great support from parents, who have to make a commitment to the program. Williams meets with parents and students individually, and she stays in touch with students and families long after graduation. "I love my students. I love my families. You develop that connection," she explains. She relishes conferences with seniors' parents because they share their dreams for their children.
Williams also appreciates the longevity built into working relationships. "I've been quite fortunate," she says, adding, "Achievable Dream is like a family. It's an educational setting, but it's more than that."
The Achievable Dream program differs from those of other district schools. The school day and school year are extended. There is a focus on students' social, academic and moral education, in addition to standard academic subjects. Williams says she has to consider students' real-world needs, so the staff offers lessons in etiquette and conflict resolution.
Williams, who also is Career Pathways coordinator at the school, says the What It Takes program helps give students soft skills they'll need in the workplace, like work ethic, attitude and timeliness. The schools' programs are mindful of business partners, who serve as additional mentors for students. Williams says the school's size works in favor of its students. But she believes growth is inevitable, noting that there will be a program in Virginia Beach in another year.
The class of 2013 was the third graduating class for An Achievable Dream High School. Backstage before graduation at the Ferguson Center, Williams posed for a souvenir photo with Destiny Davis, one of the school's 35 graduates who's now a student at Virginia Union University in Richmond. Williams has spoken with Davis' mother since Destiny left for college, about how the family is adjusting to the change.
Williams says Principal Marylin Sinclair-White and the staff at An Achievable Dream are very supportive. It's not unusual for teachers or administrators to
take students on college visits, she says. "The extended family setting is what makes Achievable Dream so powerful. We're a village," she explains.
State debate coach of the year.
Warwick High School English teacher Justin Giroux has been named Virginia Debate Coach of the Year by the Virginia Association of Speech, Debate, and Drama
Coaches. For five years Giroux has served as president of the Tidewater Forensic League. He is president-elect of the Virginia Association of Speech,
Debate, and Drama Coaches and volunteers in the tabulation room for the Peninsula Debate League. Giroux, a National Board Certified Teacher, teaches
English, theater, debate, public speaking, and college and career readiness.
Newport News Public Schools has been awarded more than $72,000 from the state to enhance school security. The grant is being used to install and upgrade intercoms, remote door locks and security cameras at elementary schools and early childhood centers.
The funds are part of a program established by the General Assembly to boost school safety after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The $6 million package provides funds for 86 school districts across the state. At NNPS, the state grant has been combined with $18,165 in required local matching funds.
In addition to grant-funded improvements, which are under way, NNPS has begun to renovate, or move, main offices at schools to make the main school entrance visible to office employees. Carver Elementary School's main office has undergone the conversion already. Tiled walls were replaced by glass and desks and counters were moved to provide staffers with a clear view of the main entrance. Riverside Elementary School's office has been improved similarly. Hidenwood, Lee Hall, Nelson and Sanford Elementary Schools will be converted at the end of this school year, according to Jack Howard, facilities project manager.
In schools where the office is not in a direct line of sight with the entrance, visitors can be screened using cameras accessible to office staffers on computers. Like other security cameras in schools and work sites, on buses and at Todd Stadium, the cameras may be viewed live by employees and record images of everyone who enters.
Walk-through and portable metal detectors will continue to be used randomly in schools and offices and at all sporting events and graduations. Exterior lighting at buildings has been improved in recent years. The new lighting is more energy-efficient, too.
According to Donald Green, supervisor of school safety and security, NNPS employs 62 security officers, who are assigned to all school locations. Police Department school resource officers serve in middle and high schools, and patrol officers visit elementary schools when available.
In accordance with new state laws and best practices, NNPS schools participate in regular fire, lockdown, tornado and earthquake drills to help ensure that students and staff are prepared to react safely to emergency events. Green says, "School safety and security are a top priority so we can ensure our students and staff have a safe, welcoming environment in which to learn and work."
The new Magruder Elementary School, expected to open in 2015, will include the latest safety and security features.
Congratulations to all participants!
Sixth-Grade Girls 100-Meter Dash
Girls 100-Meter Dash
Sixth-Grade Girls 200-Meter Dash
Girls 200-Meter Dash
Girls 400-Meter Dash
Sixth-Grade Girls 800-Meter Run
Girls 800-Meter Run
Girls 1600-Meter Run
Sixth-Grade Girls 4x100-Meter Relay
Girls 4x100-Meter Relay
Girls 4x400-Meter Relay
Girls Team Standings
Sixth-Grade Boys 100-Meter Dash
Boys 100-Meter Dash
Sixth-Grade Boys 200-Meter Dash
Boys 200-Meter Dash
Boys 400-Meter Dash
Sixth-Grade Boys 800-Meter Run
Boys 800-Meter Run
Boys 1600-Meter Run
Sixth-Grade Boys 4x100-Meter Relay
Boys 4x100-Meter Relay
Boys 4x400-Meter Relay
Boys Team Standings
Newport News Public Libraries offer a variety of events, classes and programs for adults and children of all ages. Check the "Events" tab of the NN Public Libraries website for information about events at the different library branches.
Bon Secours Family Focus provides an array of services to families, which include parent education classes, support groups for parents and caregivers, the Al's Pal's preschool program and parent-child interactive learning groups. Additional programs are available for Hispanic parents, (Circulo de Padres Hispanos at First Baptist Church and St. George's Episcopal in Newport News). The programs and activities are designed to reduce parent isolation by increasing parent-to-parent support and linking families to valuable community resources, to increase parents' knowledge of childhood behaviors and development through parent education and to promote positive, nurturing parenting practices. See the Family Focus website for more information and a schedule of offerings.
Mark Your Calendar
NNPS school calendars and marking periods can be viewed at www.nnschools.org/calendars.
NNPS NEWSLines is published by Newport News Public School Office of Community Relations, 12465 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23606. Director, Public Information and Community Relations: Michelle Price. NEWSLines Editor: Marguerite Hargreaves.