Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
Dear PWCS Families, Employees, and Community:
We are nearing the end of our 2021-22 school year and our graduation season is underway! This week, I was honored to attend graduation ceremonies at both PACE West and Independence Nontraditional School. The students at both schools are truly an inspiration for us. Through their grit, perseverance, and determination, coupled with the support of teachers, staff, and families, these students have overcome tremendous adversity and persevered. I am confident that our students are now ready to launch the next chapter of their journey toward a thriving future.
While I am not able to join every graduation, year-end celebration, or promotion ceremony, I am truly proud of all our students, teachers, staff, and families for the resolve required to not only survive a tumultuous year, but to thrive. Notable examples abound across our Division of students demonstrating learning, leadership, and achievement both locally and nationally.
Recently, we have had the opportunity to recognize several examples of this excellence at our School Board meetings, including this week where we spotlighted the outstanding Special Olympics Unified Sports physical education program. Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Unified Sports joins people with and without special needs on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together are quick paths to friendship and understanding.
PWCS offers Unified Sports at 11 high schools. The program is made up of 50% student athletes in the general education population and 50% student athletes with special needs. Competitions are held in basketball, track and field, kickball, bocce, and cheerleading. The Unified Sports program is a wonderful example of the commitments embodied in our Vision 2025: Launching Thriving Futures strategic plan, to provide a learning environment which fosters inclusivity, connectedness, and encourages social and emotional wellness for all.
Furthering our core commitment of inclusivity and celebration of our diversity as a strength, I am proud to recognize, along with the Prince William County School Board, that June 2022 is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. We ask our community to join us in celebrating all students and staff, regardless of gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. PWCS is committed to a safe and welcoming environment for all.
Lastly, as we work together to ensure the safe conclusion of the school year, I ask for our collective cooperation in creating a safe environment for all. As I shared previously, our “Say Something” Anonymous Reporting System is designed specifically for students in grades 6-12 and staff to report any type of serious or potentially violent concerns of unsafe behavior or threats of harm to self or others. “Say Something” is a youth violence prevention program from the national nonprofit organization Sandy Hook Promise and is provided and sustained at no cost to PWCS. Users can submit a tip by calling 1-844-5-SAYNOW or by visiting saysomething.net. The free app is available for download from the App Store and Google Play Store, where students can submit tips instantly.
All tips submitted receive an immediate response by one of the highly skilled crisis counselors at the Sandy Hook Promise National Crisis Center; this person then determines the necessary support steps. When credible tips are received that are life-threatening and require immediate attention, the crisis center will notify school-based representatives, even after hours. In cases of imminent threat, the crisis center will contact local 911 dispatch and involve law enforcement.
We look forward to a safe and joyous closure to the end of this school year.
LaTanya D. McDade, Ed.D.Superintendent Prince William County Public Schools