The school board is elected to put the education and well-being of our children first, above all else. To do the hard work it takes to ensure the kids in Shenandoah County Public Schools are safe and getting the nourishment, love, time, attention, and knowledge they need to successfully grow into the next generation of contributing members of society. This includes making sure all students feel included and welcome by and within the school community.

However, instead of working to get more supplies to our teachers or address the behavioral and mental health crises of our students, the school board is spending meeting time to consider reversing the name changes they approved two years ago. A decision they made following their unanimous vote to condemn racism and pledge to foster an inclusive school environment for the well-being of all in SCPS.

Unfortunately, for the last two years since, too much time, energy, and focus has been taken away from educating and caring for our kids to placate those consumed with retribution. Retribution that even included threatening division-crushing cuts to needed resources that directly impact our kids. Nelson Mandela said that “history will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.”

Let us choose to put our kids first. Let us spend our collective efforts making a better future for them. Let us start by rejecting divisiveness and instead courageously lead with empathy and kindness as an example today’s kids can hopefully pass onto their kids.

Katie Freakley, Woodstock

(6) comments

Truthsquad

Amazing non-credible source for your data, Mr. Poplar. One of the criteria used to rank schools is school funding. As long as that continues to be a variable I’m afraid SCPS will not have a fighting chance. I’ve noticed this seems to be a habit of yours, I.e, failing to use credible resources. (Case in point your use, at times, of Fox News as a citation.) Also, what exactly is your point with the current School Board? If things are as dire academically as you suggest, then why waste precious time revisiting decisions that only have bearing on further eroding the confidence and success of diverse students who find the confederate honorees quite objectionable.

guest12

Great letter!

JPoplar

1) Per

https://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/va_index_performance_awards/index.shtml

According to the Va. Board of Education, 379 schools were awarded its Education Excellence Award and/or Distinguished Achievement Award during the years 2017-2020. During this time only one school in Shenandoah County (Central) achieved only one of these 379 awards.

2) Per https://backgroundchecks.org/top-school-districts-in-virginia.html

The SHENCO is not even ranked in the top 100 school districts in the state of VA Shenandoah County School District, is ranked within the bottom 50% of all 135 school districts in Virginia (based off of combined math and reading proficiency testing data) for the 2016-2017 school year.

Yes it all about "the children," but it is also about holding those that oversee the education of youth accountable -- we place special trust in the School Board and our educators to equip our children to succeed in life and maximize their potential.

JPoplar

Ms. Freakley, to the contrary the previous School Board wasted precious time and resources in a futile attempt to affect their won social and political vice educational agenda.

Per https://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/index.shtml

379 schools were awarded its Education Excellence Award and/or Distinguished Achievement Award during the years 2017-2020. During this time only one school in Shenandoah County (Central) achieved only one of these 379 awards.

SHENCO is not even ranked in the top 100 school districts in the state of VA Shenandoah County School District, is ranked within the bottom 50% of all 135 school districts in Virginia

It is apparent that the focus of the previous School Board's efforts appeared to be change the names of our schools and mascots which has nothing to do with education and preparing our children for the challenges of life ahead.

A reversion back to the original name(s) can be cost neutral and a discussion would eliminate the angst of many constituents who believed that they were not adequately represented by their respective previous school board members.

No, a further discussion and revisiting the issue will not be easy, but it is the right thing to do. Constituents are looking to the School Board to represent their majority views and not execute the agenda of a small but vocal minority.

jnovat

Yes! Honey Run and Mountain View reflect the natural beauty of our area and are names that all County residents can be proud of.

Dennis Atwood

Well said, Katie Freakely. Your letter should be a mandatory instrucional unit for our School Board members. Many of them would not pass the relevant exam at this time.

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