Accomack County Students Shine on National Stages

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By Stefanie Jackson – Accomack County Public Schools career and technical education students have been busy with summer activities and achievements, Director of Secondary Education Karen Taylor told the school board Tuesday night.

Nandua High School had six students who attended this year’s state conference for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, and the following students won awards:

Nicholas Brown competed in sports nutrition and won a silver medal, a $1,000 scholarship from the Art Institute of Virginia in Virginia Beach, and a $500 renewable scholarship from Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, N.C.

Kayana Smith and Zion Payton competed as a team in the category Focus on Children and each won a bronze medal.

Ky’Lek Robinson received the Outstanding Leadership Award.

The Nandua Middle School FCCLA was the only club in the state to win the New Chapter Award; the team also received a $300 grant and a trophy for outstanding community service for running a clothes closet in the family and consumer science classroom.

Accomack schools had nine students who participated in the SkillsUSA national competition in Atlanta. Students from both Arcadia and Nandua high schools competed in the automotive, cosmetology, and welding categories.

All the automotive and welding students placed 26th or higher in the nation. One automotive student placed sixth out of 13 in the first round; the top five competitors advanced to the next round.

One welding student narrowly missed placing in the top 10 when his time expired during competition.

Accomack’s Quiz Bowl team of four students lost in the early rounds of competition to teams from New Jersey and Kentucky, who won the gold and silver medals.

Sarah Schmidt, a junior from Arcadia High School and a nontraditional automotive student (so-called because automotive students typically are male) placed sixth in the Facilithon, a competition that tests a student’s ability to thrive in a facility management environment.

Sarah is the first student in Accomack’s history to reach the top 10 at the national level for SkillsUSA.

This year, Arcadia High School student Alex Like earned the highest score in the state on the Microsoft Excel test and competed in the 2022 Microsoft Office Specialist U.S. National Championship in Dallas.

Alyese Justis, a culinary arts teacher at Arcadia High School, is attending the annual Virginia Association for Teachers of Family and Consumer Science conference this week, and she will be recognized as the 2022 Outstanding New Teacher of the Year for the state.

Nandua Middle School Principal SuCora Owens announced that the school’s Beta Club attended the organization’s national convention in Nashville and won the Beta Together Award for exemplifying Beta Club’s ideal of academic excellence.

Owens thanked the school board for providing transportation to the convention and said the students were excited to travel to Tennessee and learn from the other students who competed against them.

In another matter, Superintendent Chris Holland reported that the Accomack school division will provide bus transportation to its schools on Chincoteague for students who live in military housing in Wallops Island.

Previously, the school division required students who lived in Navy housing to attend mainland schools, Holland noted.

Chairman Ronnie Holden pointed out that there is a state law that gives “school choice” to students who live in military housing.

Virginia Code 22.1-7.2, enacted in 2018, states students residing in military housing must be allowed to enroll in “any school” in their school division upon the request of their parents, provided the school has space available for the students.

Holland added that the families who live in military housing are in the same voting district as Chincoteague residents.

About 20 students will be affected by the policy change.

“The military has sacrificed enough. … It’s the least we can do,” Holland said.                       

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