A year of student successes

School Ways

June marks the end of the 2022–2023 school year, and I am reflecting on our students’ achievements and successes. 

While most of our students are looking forward to the summer, our 2023 graduates are looking to their futures. More than 1,700 students will cross the stage into the future—college, career and citizen-ready. The Class of 2023 has earned more than $50 million in scholarships to colleges and universities across the country. They also earned more than 2,000 industry and career certifications, giving them access to advanced post-secondary opportunities as well as high-skilled internships and careers. 

This school year our students excelled and earned state and national recognition. These students are representative of the many students learning and excelling in Newport News Public Schools.

Jamie Ashby, an eighth-grade student at Booker T. Washington Middle School, earned first place in Congressman Bobby Scott’s Third Congressional District App Challenge. Jamie designed an app named Skin in the Game, allowing users to identify bug bites and skin conditions with machine learning. As first-place winner, Jamie had the opportunity to demonstrate his app at a Washington, D.C., reception with other winners from around the country.

The Triple Helix robotics team, based at Menchville High School, successfully defended their title as champions of the FIRST Robotics Competition Chesapeake District and advanced to compete at the World Championship in Houston. The judging panel at the District Championship also recognized Triple Helix with the Innovation in Control Award, which celebrates innovative control techniques to achieve gameplay functions. 

Three NNPS Odyssey of the Mind teams earned top honors in the 2023 Tidewater Regional Odyssey of the Mind Tournament and advanced to compete in the Virginia Odyssey of the Mind State Finals. During the state finals, the McIntosh Elementary School team won third place in their division, the team representing Booker T. Washington Middle School earned third place and the Knollwood Meadows Elementary School team captured second place in their division.

Seventy-five middle and high school students showcased their research and findings at the All-City Science, Engineering and Technology Fair, and dozens advanced to participate in the Tidewater Science and Engineering Fair. The students presented research projects in a variety of science and engineering fields. While working on their investigations, students learned the processes of research and engineering design and the technical writing skills needed to clearly and effectively communicate the results of their experiments. 

Atiana Williams, a Menchville High School senior, was named a finalist in the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame’s Annual Student Athlete Achievement Awards. Atiana was one of 16 finalists, the only one from the Peninsula to be selected. She served as the Monarchs’ Girls Varsity Basketball team captain, finishing the regular season with a record of 22-0. The finalists were recognized for their athletic and academic success in addition to their volunteer work and community service. 

Three students won Virginia Senator Monty Mason’s art contest and had their artwork displayed during the 2023 General Assembly session. Dutrow Elementary third-grader Gracie Preuett won the K–3 division, Chiara Leone, a fifth-grade student at Riverside Elementary, won the fourth–fifth grade division and Woodside High School senior JaBrea Copeland won the secondary level. 

The Woodside High School Boys
Basketball Team captured the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 5 State Championship. The Wolverines won the first state title in boys basketball in almost two decades and finished their season with an outstanding record of 23-5. Senior point guard Trevor Smith was named VHSL Class 5 Player of the Year and head coach Stefan Welsh was named the Class 5 Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.

Woodside senior Trevor Smith and Menchville senior AJ Clark were named to the 2023 Virginia High School League Class 5 Boys All-State Basketball team, and Woodside senior Christian Greenlaw and Menchville senior Etienne Strothers were named to the Second Team All-State.

Heritage senior Madison Whyte captured the Class 4 state title and set a meet record in the 55-meter dash at the Virginia High School League State Indoor Track Championships. Fellow Heritage senior Myzhane’ Solomon earned the state title in the 55-meter hurdles; and seniors Sanaa Wooden, Sabria Wooden, Myzhane’ Solomon, and Madison Whyte brought home the state title and set a meet record in the 4×400 meter relay. 

Jeremiah Palacious, a junior at Woodside High School, earned the Class 5 state title in the long jump during the State Indoor Track Championships.

At the Virginia High School League Swim and Dive state championships, Menchville High senior Ian Rodgers earned the Class 5 state title in the 100-yard butterfly.

In September, the Virginia High School League voted to sanction girls wrestling as an emerging sport. Kassey Daugherty, a junior at Menchville High School, won the state title in her weight class during the inaugural Girls State Open Wrestling Championships.

This has truly been a year of accomplishment for students in Newport News Public Schools.


Michele Mitchell is interim superintendent of Newport News Public Schools. She can be reached at michele.mitchell@nn.k12.va.us.

About Dr. Michele Mitchell 3 Articles
Dr. Michele Mitchell is interim superintendent of Newport News Public Schools. She can be reached at michele.mitchell@nn.k12.va.us