At times, it feels like only bad news comes out regarding our schools. Nationally, we seem to hear of yet another school shooting every few weeks.
Headlines report discipline and dropout rates. Newscasts tell of cities where, despite the best efforts and intentions of educators and politicians, large segments of children continue to fall behind.
Locally, the persistent achievement gap between white and minority students within Alexandria City Public Schools is a constant concern. Several of our schools continue falling short of Standards of Learning targets. And in recent years, stories of financial mismanagement, employee misconduct and budgeting woes often have seized the spotlight in the school district.
These are all legitimate news stories and have their place in the Times as well as other publications. But they are far from painting the whole picture.
Behind the scenes, small miracles occur daily in Alexandria’s schools. Whether it’s the kindergartner who puts together the letters to read their first word, the seventh-grader who conducts experiments for their science fair project or the swimmer who achieves a personal best at a meet, our schools are bursting with achievement.
In a city as philanthropic as Alexandria, it’s no surprise that all of our schools — public and private — place great emphasis on service projects. Sometimes students provide care kits for homeless people, sometimes they’re donation baskets for the animal shelter and sometimes they go to needy children overseas.
In an effort to help brighten the spotlight on school achievement, the Times this week is debuting a new education section, called “Out of the Classroom,” that will run the third Thursday of every month. In this section, we hope to draw attention to some of the achievements taking place in Alexandria’s schools.
This week, the spotlight is on the Hammond Hammerheads, an after-school carpentry club that meets at Francis C. Hammond Middle School but includes George Washington Middle School students as well. Also featured are Alexandria
Country Day School kindergartners, who put together care backpacks for their “backpack buddies.” And Immanuel Lutheran organized a canned food drive.
We encourage teachers and administrators, PTA leaders and parents to send the Times stories and photos of school achievement (submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org). We won’t be able to run everything we receive, but we promise to fit in as much as we can.
It’s time to put the spotlight on the good news in Alexandria’s schools.