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Hampton Roads Community News

Class of 1969 Weighs In On Upgrading BTW High School

The Booker T. Washington High School Alumni Class of 1969 has weighed in on the discussion surrounding the deteriorating conditions of their alma mater.

In a letter of appeal dated July 17 to Mayor Kenneth Alexander and members of the Norfolk city council and school board, 1969 class president Donnell Alston issued the following statement.

“The Booker T. Washington High School Class of 1969 Alumni Association wishes to add our voice to the cadre of distinguished organizations, civic groups, interested citizens and other alumni associations that are extremely concerned about the deteriorating condition of BTW High facilities and education programs.

“We, the community, alumni and Concerned Citizens, will continue to address these problems until they are fully resolved, contacting other agencies if necessary to insure our students’ safety. In addition, we are requesting a copy of the NPS Maintenance Schedule which should show when these issues are scheduled to be addressed.

Alston outlined several areas his group has identified. “BTW does not have any spring sports/home games because of the following:
A. The school’s Athletic Department must utilize department funds to transport students to other schools to practice, thereby reducing funds available for students’ athletic activities.
B. Tennis courts have been demolished
C. There is no dug out for softball games
D. There is no Girls’ Soccer in the evening because lights are needed
E. The track is outdated.
F. The bleachers in the gym cannot be pushed in towards wall because they cannot be pushed back out.
G. There are no guard rails on the bleachers which is certainly a safety issue.”

Alston said the equipment required to make BTW a School of the Arts is obsolete, citing “the only flat screen TV is in the teachers’ lounge.”

He cited the need for “a Recording Studio that will not only be a recruiting tool for our school but is needed to enhance the Specialty Program.”

While acknowledging some improvements have been made in the Auditorium, he said the lighting was replaced with substandard wattage.

“The original lighting was 90 Watts LED and was replaced by maintenance with 28 watts. It was stated that lights could not be dimmed with the 90 LED. Research states that 90 LEDs can be dimmed. Other lights were replaced with 200 watt household bulbs. Several requests were made to retrieve the expensive state of the art bulbs, but they were never returned.”

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Alson continued, “After researching and reviewing other Specialty Schools, we are requesting consideration for the following course offerings: Graphics Design Portfolio Preparation (College Preparation); Art History; Airbrush 1 and 2; Advanced Music Theory; Musical Theater/Show Choir; Black Box Theater; Scene and Backdrop Design and Graphics Arts; Theater History and Literature; Competition Team Dance Class (BTW Dance Team audition only); Tap Classes (beginners); Dance History; Television Production; Chamber Orchestra; 9th Grade Orchestra class; Audio/Lights and Sound Production; Music Production; Stage Production; Art/Theater/Vocal and Instrumental Internships.”

Alston concluded by calling for the painting of the school building.

“We are told the school cannot be power washed, so we are requesting that the building be painted, inside and out. The exterior and grounds must be presentable so that we, the community, can continue the pride that is derived from the rich history and legacy of Booker T. Washington High School.”

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