Published 8:21 pm Monday, May 26, 2014
Nearly a third of students absent Monday
Some Suffolk Public Schools students may have found their schoolwork even more tedious on a day they were originally scheduled to be out of school for the Memorial Day holiday.
Such was not the case in Julie Limtiaco’s third-grade class at Booker T. Washington Elementary School. Thoughts of the snow days that occasioned the school calendar change were far away as the students spent part of the warm day outside, picking worms off cabbage and watering the garden the students are growing in cooperation with the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community.
“I love it,” said student Briana Riddick. “I hate missing school days.”
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Students at Booker T. Washington had a field day — literally. Some classes, like Limtiaco’s, signed up to care for the garden. Some got the chance to create sidewalk art with chalk, others played cornhole and still other students left the building with painted faces.
“I feel good, because we had fun,” said Niyah Gaston, also in Limtiaco’s class.
Booker T. Washington Principal David Reitz instituted a slightly relaxed dress code for staff for the day and invited parents to come to school and participate in the fun.
Not every student in Suffolk Public Schools enjoyed the fun activities planned. According to division spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw, more than 32 percent of the division’s students were absent Monday, compared to only 3.6 percent absent last Monday, May 19.
Zachary Gist, a Hillpoint Elementary School student, was one of those absent during the morning. His troop was scheduled to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the American Legion Post 57’s Memorial Day service at Cedar Hill Cemetery, and his parents thought it was important he should attend.
“He was going to be here anyway,” said his father, Andy Gist, who took his children to school for the second half of the day. Like Booker T. Washington, Hillpoint also had a field day planned.
Schools including Driver, Mack Benn Jr. and Northern Shores elementary schools also held their field days. Patriotic activities, including veterans and active-duty service members as guest speakers, were planned at several schools, and students at several schools were encouraged to come dressed in red, white and blue.