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Portsmouth Public Schools brings school spirit ahead of new school year

Students in Portsmouth return to school on Tuesday, September 5.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — In one week, another group of Hampton Roads students are set to return to the classroom. To prepare, Portsmouth Public Schools held a pep rally for its staff across all schools.

One by one, hundreds of staff members marched inside Churchland High School. They showed off their school spirit through t-shirts as well as signs and pom-poms in hand.

“Seeing everybody, being able to say ‘Hey!’ and meeting new people, it’s an awesome experience,” said Ernna Walker-Lewis, a teacher with Mt. Hermon Preschool Center.

School staff all gathered for a pep rally marking one week until the first day of school. Walker-Lewis has worked with the school division for over 20 years and says she looks forward to this time of the year.

“I see smiles," she said. "So, just that kind of hype is like OK, we’re in this together.”

“Everybody is excited and just glad to see one another," Dr. Elie Bracy III, Portsmouth Public Schools superintendent. "You know, it’s been a long summer.”

Dr. Bracy III said he’s ready to welcome back students, especially educators since many school divisions have faced a staffing shortage.

“We’re so fortunate that the teachers that we had last year came back," he said.

Dr. Bracy said the division has hired more teachers which is helping to ease their staffing shortage. According to a school spokesperson, the division reported 62 vacancies as of last week.

“We’ve been creative in staffing, using some other companies to help us with that," he said. "And we can begin the year mostly with people in place in the classroom.”

Ahead of the new year, he’s focused on student development.

“We want to make sure that we see growth in our students and in our school," he said. "And we’re excited about everything that we have in place. We have some new administrators in some of our buildings and they’re bringing some excitement with them as well.”

Dr. Bracy is also focused on keeping students safe through new systems.

“We’ll start with our secondary schools," Dr. Bracy said. "We have the new evolved system, the detection system. So, anyone that’s coming into our building will be screened.”

Dr. Bracy hopes the school community can keep this positive energy going throughout the year.

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