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State superintendent of schools visits Washington County

April 26, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick walked the halls of South Hagers-town High School Thursday morning, pointing to features and designs of the newly renovated school.

"If people don't believe in renovations, they should come to this school," Grasmick said. "It's beautiful. It's like new."

South High was the third and final stop on Grasmick's tour of three county schools. Earlier in the morning, she visited Western Heights Middle School and Winter Street Elementary School.

Grasmick made the trip to Washington County as part of her regular tour of public schools throughout Maryland. She said she tries to visit 100 schools a year.

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After the tour, she said she chose to visit South High because she wanted to see the school's multimillion dollar renovations and hear about its educational achievements.

Principal Michael Shockey said Grasmick's visit was important to the school's staff.

"Just to have the state superintendent validate their efforts is really a special kind of respect," Shockey said.

South High's state champion Destination ImagiNation team also received a form of validation from Grasmick - in the form of a personal check.

The group of six performed a comical impromptu skit on a topic suggested by the state superintendent. She was so impressed with the performance that she wrote the team a $400 check on the spot to put toward travel expenses to the world competition at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.

"I can't wait to hear that you won," she said.

Western Heights Principal Robert Myers said Grasmick chatted with students and toured the school's new Wellness Center, a grant-funded facility that provides students with on-site health services, including immunizations, physical examinations and common childhood illnesses.

"We were just elated that the state superintendent would come visit our school," Myers said. "We were blessed."

While at Winter Street Elementary, Grasmick said she was impressed with the school's accomplishments, despite its large number of students living in poverty. Eighty percent of the school's students receive free and reduced meals.

The school, however, received the 2000-01 Exemplary Reading Program Award from the State of Maryland's International Reading Association Council, the only school in the state to do so that year.

"The results here are amazing given the challenges of the school," Grasmick said.

After her visit, Grasmick said the principals of the three schools were examples of what all school leaders should be.

"There's an attitude of no excuses," she said. "That's what we want all principals to be."

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