Residents say children would benefit from ‘better together’

Published 3:31 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

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A variety of topics were on local residents minds Tuesday as they spoke to the School Board on issues such as the Virginia Teachers of Tomorrow Program in high schools, implementing medical profession classes in high schools, the Supreme Court ruling on the open meetings suit, school safety, time limitations, school funding concerns causing the loss of safety officers.

However, one topic stood out in the public comments section of the May 11 meeting — residents encouraged the board to focus on positivity and working together for the betterment of Suffolk’s children.

Suffolk resident Robin Page, who noted that she and her family are new to Suffolk Public Schools, shared her appreciation of the school division and the importance of being a positive influence to the children.

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“Unfortunately there seems to be some division around our School Board and Superintendent and it appears to be racial or political,” Page said. “As a parent and as an adult, I hope we will all remember that we are all role models for our children in our lives and we all see the humanity in others and that it matters.”

Suffolk Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Social Action Committee Chair Tracey Hamilton told the board as a parent and she believes they need to focus on the excellence of SPS’s students.

“In the last couple of months, there’s been so much attention paid to the shortcomings and the negativity of the division, but there’s not enough attention paid to the successes of our students,” Hamilton said. “There’s not enough conversation on this stage regarding the successes of our students and staff – the people who make the division shine.”

Among the many recognitions that Hamilton provided were Nansemond River High School’s events of Earth Day Education Fair, Honor Society Stuffed Animal Drive, the King’s Fork High School marching band and their top honors in competitions and Girls Track and Field team for winning their first regional championship in the school’s history.

“These ladies generated their own questions to the School Board members who attended. Unfortunately, only three of the School Board members were able to witness this in person. An invitation was sent to all School Board members, only three responded to attend, three declined and one did not take the time to respond to me at all,” Hamilton said. “It is time to change our perspective starting today. Our children – my children – deserve to be casted in a positive light above all else.”

Suffolk resident Mike Ralston, who noted this is his first time at a school board meeting, discussed his “concern” that he heard over the recent racism topics.

“It exists. There are certain people that hate each other, and I can go across the globe so it’s not just here in Suffolk. It’s everywhere,” Ralston said.

He said he believes racism is used to “deflect from conversations” and slander people.

“Also I know most importantly, that at a higher level of the United States when you’re talking about wealthy elite people with a lot of power, they want nothing more than to see division between black and white people,” Ralston said. “I would like everybody to kind of refrain from that and do what they can to not buy into that, because my experience has been that a majority of people I meet of all walks of life are really good people. And I have a good time with them.”