Schools chief stresses good news

Published 10:32 pm Thursday, February 25, 2010

During the annual State of the Schools address on Thursday, the bad news of pending budget cuts could not overshadow the good things that are taking place in Suffolk Public Schools.

Giving a nod to the expected reductions in state aid and the effect that will have on the school system, Superintendent Milton Liverman addressed a crowd of about 275 people on Thursday evening at the State of the Schools event, which is put on each year by the Suffolk Education Foundation. Parents, community members, business members and teachers all attended.

The night included comments from Dr. Liverman and a presentation, a video now available to the public, that highlighted 10 of the school system’s crown jewels.

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Among those highlights were the system’s efforts to teach each child at his own level, its teachers — of which 99.33 percent are considered highly qualified by state and federal standards — and its award-winning programs, such as Lakeland’s marching band, the basketball team at King’s Fork and Nansemond River’s theatre program.

Hands-on learning, an emphasis on early intervention, challenging opportunities for students through higher education courses and state of the art technologies available to students also were highlighted. Additionally, since 1996, system has six newly built schools and six recently renovated schools.

“I have a vested interest in the schools,” said Dawn Evans, a parent who has children at Lakeland, Forest Glen and Southwestern and attended to learn more about what is happening in the school system.

“It was a good presentation of what’s going on in the schools. It was great to see a few city officials come out this year and good to hear Dr. Liverman comment on the upcoming budget, as well.”

The State of the Schools address is held each year to recognize the successes and mark the improvements of the system to its investors — parents, taxpayers and businesses. This year’s event was sponsored by Electronic Systems, which has invested in SPS for at least the past 10 years.

“We want to help benefit the area we work in,” said Sam Barnes from Electronic Systems. “We enjoy helping the kids and families of Suffolk.”

This year’s event differed from previous years. Instead of a breakfast meeting, after the speech, attendees met, mingled and enjoyed catered hors d’oeuvres while the Nansemond River High School Jazz Ensemble played music.

Also showcased were the Starlight Orchestra, which consists of musicians from King’s Fork, Lakeland and Nansemond River High schools, and the Perfect Fifth, a male quintet, and the Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard, both from Lakeland High School.

“The night went well,” Liverman said. “It would’ve been nice to have more people here, but when you have tough times like these, you have to celebrate the good things.”