When going to school always means staying home in Hampton Roads


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – When physical schools reopened this spring, most children were excited to log out of virtual school and return to their regular classes.

This was the case in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Suffolk.

But not in Newport News, Hampton and Portsmouth, where more families have decided to stay home for “three rupees”.

Welcome to what you might call “Academy 5920”, where Jaden Smith and three relatives, who did not want to be photographed, take virtual classes and make Aces all over the place.

WAVY-TV 10 came over for their morning math class.

“So that’s question number 14,” said her teacher, whose image was hidden in the corner of a virtual classroom while a complicated math question was in full screen mode.

Jaden has a grade point average of 4.7 as he also takes college courses. For him, the equation for success is not complicated.

“I treat him like I’m still in school. I still have the same thing and I think time management is the best thing to have, ”he said.

Aunt Bonita Hawkins hovers nearby, just in case Jaden needs help. Usually it doesn’t.

Eli Bracy

“It uses all available resources; he sends emails to teachers on his own. He’s doing workshops, he’s already volunteering and networking – just to have that opportunity for whatever he’s chosen to do, ”said Hawkins.

Churchland High is his homeschool, but Jaden prefers to learn at his aunt’s house. It drew the attention of members of school boards and the administration.

“You’re always going to have kids who will be successful – no matter what – whether virtual or in person, some kids are equipped when they get to school on day one,” said the Portsmouth Schools Superintendent, Dr. Eli Bracy.

Day one of virtual learning was very different for many other families in Portsmouth. The administration provided meals, equipment and internet connection and it was done on a roll.

“We called it our ‘magic school bus that went out to bring meals to the communities, these buses were also equipped with [internet] hot spots, ”said Dr. Bracy.

The process worked. Bracy was on hand to welcome the youth who resumed the in-person learning.

“It was almost like the first day of school when our students came home on April 12th. Our kindergarten through sixth grade students, I had the opportunity to be at Parkview Elementary School and they were … kids would come in with smiles on their faces – but through the mask – but you could see they were beaming. You could see it in their eyes, ”Bracy said.

3,600 Portsmouth students returned for in-person learning and 9,600 remained virtual as of April 23. number of courses that will be available for the summer school.

“We want the children to return to the buildings so that they acclimatize and feel comfortable going back to school. So that we can acquire some of the basic skills in these key areas, to prepare for them and to cover the learning of the loss that has taken place so that we can start to function, ”said Bracy.

But, Jaden said, given the choice, it would remain virtual. He says distance learning was so effective that he woke up one morning and decided to open a clothing business.

His art brings style to his vision that goes far beyond the pandemic.

“It’s called dalonega and that means Don’t let life’s obstacles take a toll on your greatest accomplishments, ”Jaden explained.

Jaden is a young man on a mission. He graduates next year; then off to college. He hopes to enroll in medical school.

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