Dreams are made of this

Published 9:07 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2016


It has been a big year for Nansemond River High School.

Three national track titles. The school’s first state baseball championship team. A student named to the Virginia Choral Directors Association’s All-Virginia Chorus. An All-Regional actor from the drama department. A conference championship for the school’s competition theatre team. And the retirement of one of Suffolk’s best-loved principals.

And those are just some of the biggest honors for the school since January.

Email newsletter signup

Clearly, they’re doing something right over on Nansemond Parkway.

The latest successes came from “Team War,” comprising members of the Warriors’ track and field team, who competed over the weekend in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, a track and field competition held in Greensboro, N.C.

The girls’ track team set a slew of new Virginia records on its way to securing national championships in the 4×200 relay, the 4×100 relay and the 4×400 relay. Coach Justin Byron has done an incredible job building one of the best track programs in the state. He’s been blessed with great raw talent, but team members and their parents, too, have said that his guidance has been the key to the school’s success on the oval.

Similarly, baseball coach Mark Stuffel took a group of talented boys this year, helped them hone their skills and gave them the guidance they needed to weather stiff competition throughout the season and emerge as the best in the state in Group 5A.

The baseball championship was the Warriors’ first time finishing a season at the top of its class.

But sports haven’t been the only avenue of excellence for Nansemond River students.

The school’s highly rated theatre department continued to amass honors, too, behind the excellent leadership of Dr. Joleen Neighbours.

In January, the competition theatre team won the Virginia High School League 5A South PennSouth Conference 10 Theatre Festival, garnering its third conference title in a row. Four NRHS actors also brought home All-Conference honors after the event.

Another of Neighbours’ efforts, the school chorus, boasted a selection to the All-Virginia Chorus this spring. The honor was a first for the school.

And finally, with a heartwarming surprise farewell party given by students from the past and present, Principal Thomas McLemore said goodbye to his last class on Friday, closing the book on a 17-year stint at the head of Nansemond River High School. His retirement is well-deserved, but he will be greatly missed there.

All of these successes have one thing in common: excellent educators with a great love for helping students achieve more than they might have dreamed. There are surely many other such educators around the city, but for the Warriors, everything seems to have come together for a spring that dreams are made of.