Back To School written on a beach with towel, seashells and flip flops (studio shot - directional light and warm color are intentional).

Back To School written on a beach with towel, seashells and flip flops (studio shot – directional light and warm color are intentional).

Another Outer Banks summer has passed, and it was a pretty successful one by all accounts. Lots of people . . . the weather started very hot, then got a little bit wet, but not excessively so.

September and October have turned into very strong shoulder season months and things are looking good so far. The weather is still warm, the ocean temperature is wonderful and even though we love the feeling that we’re bursting at the seams during the summer, the fact is everything is a little more manageable on the Outer Banks in the fall.

It’s easy to tell that things have slowed down–the only traffic jam left is at the schools when parents are dropping kids off or picking them up. Mr. Tyson is back directing traffic in front of First Flight High School, which is where the biggest traffic mess is since there are three schools, K-12, side by side by side. Of course, things get pretty backed up at eight and three at Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Manteo and even down there in Buxton.

That’s the way it should be–parents should care about their kids and care about the education they are receiving. And on the Outer Banks, families really do care. The school systems here are excellent, and there is a lot of pride in that. The athletic teams do well, but that’s not the true mark of academic excellence–although it is important to the community.

These are schools that consistently score way above state and national averages in every academic measurement. The First Flight High School newspaper–the Night Hawk News–takes home top honors in state and national competitions . . . and they are doing that with some truly antiquated equipment and software.

Andrew Thomas, moonlights as a physics teacher at First Flight High School, but on the international stage he is known as the coach of the ROV (remote operating vehicle) submersible team that has taken first prize in international competitions (beating teams from China, Japan, Moscow, England).

Connie Rose, the head of the theatre department at Manteo High School, started Dockside Theatre Company six years ago to teach younger children about stagecraft. Along the way the kids also learn about self-confidence, teamwork and personal responsibility. The result has been nucleus of experienced actors on the stage at Manteo and First Flight.

It would not be fair, though to just point out what is happening in Dare County without talking about the excitement in Corolla. Corolla is in Currituck County and, because Dare County schools are at capacity, to get to school, kids had to take a two hour bus ride everyday from Corolla to schools on the mainland.

Parents (Meghan Agresto and Sylvia Wolff, in particular) felt that wasn’t the best way to educate children and after four years of hard work, a never-give-up attitude and amazing community support, the Water’s Edge Charter School opened last week. K-5 to start, about 20 students and two outstanding teachers. The new school is in the old Schoolhouse, built sometime in the late 19th century. Beautifully restored, and ready for kids, it is a great reminder of what community pride can accomplish.