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Blue-chippers and elite prospects

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

I learned a new word at midnight. I was watching the most recent live broadcast of the school board meeting of Suffolk Public Schools when my vocabulary was improved.

Although many, many, many words were recorded that evening during long presentations and questioning exchanges, my exhausted ears perked up at the mention of this fresh neologism that tickled me at first hearing. It happened when Rev. Henry Diggs stood at the podium and said, “How did Suffolk get this blue-chipper?” He was referring to Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III. Diggs, president of the Suffolk Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance honored Dr. Gordon, our “blue-chipper,” with words of accolades and approval in a public declaration that our public school system is headed by the best of the best in school administration.

One reason I favor the elderly is for the charisma and character in their vocabulary. Webster’s Dictionary may teach us the proper pronunciations of the English words in biblical proportion. It is the fountain of phrases from the lips of our senior community that confirm that we have not mastered the art of expression unless we know terms like “blue-chipper” and use them appropriately.

If you were ignorant of this term as I was, you immediately grabbed the nearest mobile device to learn whether Rev. Diggs just complimented our superintendent or told him that he had a chip on his shoulder. A quick search confirmed that it was the former. The “blue-chipper” informal name has its origins in relation to the poker game. The blue chip is the highest value when you are gambling. Yet, the term “blue-chipper” is most used in relation to sports recruiting and athletic talent evaluation. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, Rev. Diggs gave a nod to Dr. Gordon’s coaching of championship basketball teams. A blue-chipper athletic coach knows something about cultivating elite prospects.

Seeing as the school board meeting was about the pending instructional plan for the fall’s return to school, I find it appropriate that the ‘blue-chipper” statement stood out to me amid all the other discussion. Not to take anything from Dr. Gordon, but the real blue-chip here is the value of our children’s education. We do regard it as “highly valued,” and we can’t afford to gamble with it.

I learned a new word at midnight because I intentionally sat until the end of the meeting watching, even after the rest of my family left me on the sofa sitting alone watching the YouTube live stream from our Roku TV. It was important for me to hear the news and understand what decision was being made and why. I believe our schools are chock-full of talents in our teachers, our administrators, our coaching staff, our support staff and especially our students. In athletic recruitment, it takes work to transform talent and produce winning outcomes. It’s going to take that same transformation in this blue-chipper to win in the 2020-2021 school year. A blue-chipper education, meaning one of the best, will cultivate elite prospects. We are still building the best SPS.

Thank you, Rev. Diggs, for sharing this term “blue-chipper” on the evening of the school board meeting. Honestly, it was the highlight of the night for me.


QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Connect with her via iamquawanna@thebiggerme.net.