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The Alexandria School Board voted this week not to renew Superintendent Rebecca L. Perrys contract when it expires in June, 2008. As the superintendents supporters screamed The sky is falling; the sky is falling and her detractors screamed new leadership; new leadership, I had to stop reading the flurry of emails on both sides to help my son with invitations to his graduation party. He is one of the 550 plus students who will march into George Mason Universitys Patriot Center on Thursday, May 24 and receive his diploma from T.C. Williams High School. Jamies party invitations made me wonder whether we havent all lost sight of whats really important here.the 10,042 students who attend ACPS schools.

In 20 years, few current ACPS parents and even fewer ACPS students will remember who was the superintendent of schools when they graduated. Most of the current students have no idea that the School Board has voted not to renew the current superintendents contract and dont consider it important in their lives. The seniors with whom I spoke with this week listed their current priorities as graduating, beach week, college and beach week.

While these seniors wont remember Dr. [Herbert] Berg or Mrs. [Rebecca] Perrys names (the two superintendents who led their school system while they were students) those who were important enough to them to be on their graduation party invitation list were telling.

My son, for example, listed his first grade teacher, his fourth grade teacher, his fifth grade teacher, his middle school band director, his Key Club advisor and several high school teachers. He also included his elementary school principal and the principal he thinks of as his high school principal, John Porter.

While superintendents come and go and students take no notice, it is important to them to be able to come home and tell their teachers about their successes. These are the people who have been there for them, day in and day out, year in and year out, and who have nurtured them and helped them become the young adults who will make us all proud.

So, as I sit through that interminable period of time when graduates file into the Patriot Center, I will spare a thought and good wishes for Dr. Berg and Mrs. Perry, but it is Miss Bannon and Miss Seg and Mr. Trice to whom my son and his friends will be saying thank you. As long as they and other dedicated teachers like them are here, ACPS will be fine.

Carla Branch is the mother of three children who have been a part of the Alexandria City Public School system. She is a staff reporter with The Alexandria Times.

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