Filling in the Blanks with Ramee Gentry: ACPS welcomes new opportunities in the New Year

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Ramee Gentry is chair of the Alexandria City School Board.
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First, I would like to wish all of our ACPS families and community a happy New Year. Alexandria City Public Schools begins the New Year with excitement around the recent announcement of Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. as our new superintendent. In addition, we have a new partnership with George Washington University to form a Health Sciences
Academy at T.C. Williams High School. Later this spring, we will announce the name of our first new public school in Alexandria in 17 years, in time for it to welcome its first students in fall 2018.

The new Health Sciences Academy in partnership with G.W. University is for students interested in careers in medicine and health care. Students who successfully complete an academy pathway will be offered guaranteed admissions to the G.W. School of Medicine and Health Sciences and will also be eligible for scholarships. Those who go on to pursue a degree will reduce the amount of time it takes to complete their degree and the associated costs. There is no doubt that new opportunities abound at ACPS.

But not everything is new. In some ways it might be more appropriate to speak of welcome returns rather than new beginnings, for Alexandria has a way of growing talent that keeps coming back and in turn gives again to our great city.

Not only are our students returning to their classrooms at the midway point in their school year, but likewise, our new superintendent is also returning to a familiar setting. Hutchings, formerly the director of pre-K-12 initiatives with ACPS, was a graduate of T.C.
Williams High School as a well as a student at four ACPS elementary schools and Francis C. Hammond Middle School.

Hutchings attributes his successful career in education to the foundation he received in ACPS and in Alexandria. His career has taken him to many locations throughout the country, where he has received awards and accolades, first as a principal, and later as a
superintendent. He has always sought to return home to Alexandria, to lead the school division where he first developed his passion for education. When he returns to ACPS this July as superintendent, Hutchings will become the ultimate example of an ACPS alum returning to serve in the community where he grew up.

Hutchings carries on a proud tradition of graduates from ACPS continuing to give back to the community that gave them their education and a special place to call home.

Over the winter break, T.C. Williams graduate, singer-songwriter Keira Moran returned to record a professional CD with the T.C. Williams High School Orchestra at First Night Alexandria. A successful songwriter currently based in California who works with Grammy nominees, Moran is donating proceeds from the sales of the recordings to ACPS. Likewise, over the holidays, track legends Josephus and Noah Lyles donated equipment to the T.C. Williams track program, the place where they honed their talents before achieving international attention.

A New Year means resolutions and gives us a chance to rededicate ourselves to serving future generations of Alexandrians, but let’s not forget that in doing so, we are also celebrating our previous successes.

The writer is chair of the Alexandria City School Board.

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