Dr. William Hite Holds State of the School Address

Carla Peay | 10/14/2009, 9:59 p.m.

Taivion Boone sat in the front row in the auditorium at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro, Md., anxiously awaiting his turn to speak. When he spoke, the 11-year-old sixth grade student elicited laughter and applause with an address to the crowd, during which the young student compared himself to the president.

€When they asked me to speak, I thought, €why me?€ but then, I thought about how much I had in common with President Barack Obama. He is the first African American President of the United States, and I am the first African American male president of Rosaryville Elementary School€s Student Government Association. But if any of you know the president, let him know that his job is safe for now,€ Taivion said.

Taivion provided the opening remarks for Dr. William Hite, superintendent of Prince George€s County Public Schools, to give his State of the School address on Tue., Oct. 6 in front of parents, teachers, community members and students.

€Challenge us; we are capable. Don€t give us the answers; let us think for ourselves. We are encouraged to be positive and are committed to academic excellence,€ Taivion said.

Taivion attends Rosaryville Elementary in Upper Marlboro, is an Honor Roll student, plays the trombone, is on the yearbook club and plays football. Hite congratulated the young student before beginning his presentation.

€We will not shy away from challenges. We will give our students what they need. It is critical that we continue to close the achievement gap between White and Asian students, and Black and Hispanic students,€ Hite said.

During his presentation, Hite showed graphs and charts that highlighted the areas in which the schools are making progress, and in which areas improvement is still needed.

According to PGCPS data for 2009:
- More than half of all County schools that entered school improvement status were able to exit in three years.
- There was a 17 percent increase in African American students taking advanced placement courses from the previous year.
- Overall scores on the Maryland State Assessments (MSA€s) rose or stayed the same in all but one grade level (grade four reading).
- SAT scores increased by an average of 13 points.
- The pass rate for the High School Assessments (HSA€s) was 79 percent.

€I believe that smart is something you become, not something you are,€ said Hite, who emphasized three critical areas: student achievement, no status quo and accountability matters.

Prince George€s County Executive Jack Johnson praised Hite€s work, and his commitment to the students.

€Nothing is more important than having the right person to lead us during these trying times,€ Johnson said of Hite. €The most important thing we can do here in the county is to build for our children€s future. I spend 90 percent of my time looking at the budget, and 65 percent of every dollar will be spent on education.€

The address was the third annual state of the school system address, and the first for Dr. Hite.

€Dr. Hite is sincere, he cares about the kids, and he is committed to the challenges ahead,€ said School Board chair Verjeana Jacobs. €We have to believe. We have to make it a self fulfilling prophesy for our kids when they hear that they are the best and the brightest.€

The program was hosted by Dave Zahren from WJLA-TV, and opened with a selection from the Oxon Hill High School Choir. Wise High School principal, Mark King, said that Hite had the school system on the right path for the future.

€I thought the main point of his speech was that people can get smarter. People pigeonhole kids into what they are, not what they can be,€ King said.

Hite recalled a quote which he shared with the crowd that highlighted his message.

€If the children are well, the community is well,€ Hite said.

Taivion Boone applauded in agreement.

€The world is ours,€ Taivion said. €It€s only a point, click and a www- dot away.€