Staff photo by Allison Potter
Students play soccer at Wrightsville Beach School during the back to school picnic on Friday, Sept. 20.
During an event that raised more than $15,000 for the Wrightsville Beach School Foundation, board members and public officials explained the reasoning and plans for increased security at the school.
About 135 parents heard the proposed safety changes, like tinting windows in the main building, increased security at the front entrance and walkie talkies for all teachers, during the foundation’s Back to School Sunset Social on Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House, who has a daughter at WBS, went through a history of school shootings, like Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and, most recently, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“I have a vested interest in this school,” House said. “… It’s better to put the security in place and that our children are safe and then we never have to use it.”
Wrightsville Beach police officers are already present during student drop-off and pick-up hours and make regular rounds every school day.
In addition to safety, the foundation’s efforts will fund marine science improvements and Judy Rodriguez’s position as the new part-time Spanish teacher.
Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley thanked parents for their efforts and supplementing state, federal and county funding throughout years of budget cuts.
“It is a unique elementary school,” Markley said. “I’ve worked in three different school systems in this state. I grew up in Maine in a coastal town, and I’ve never seen a school that has the programs and the location that you guys have at Wrightsville Beach Elementary School. You’ve got a lot of the advantages that private schools don’t have right here in the public school setting. … You guys have filled that gap over the years and taken a grade school and made it that much better.”
Tanya Malacinski and Lisa King, parents who met for the first time at the event, said they are happy their children attend the school because of the unique marine science program and the large number of parent volunteers at the school each day.
The foundation is made up of four board members, including principal Mary Paul Beall, along with an executive committee.
“It’s not so much about my kid. It’s about the school and the future,” said Mark Johnson, executive committee member. “… No school can be successful without parent involvement.”
Johnson and his neighbor Beth Johnson both live on Airlie Road in the area that was proposed in February 2013 to be redistricted to Bradley Creek Elementary.
Beth Johnson is on the welcome committee and said all of the new parents have researched the school before coming.
“We want the school to thrive and be better than it is now,” she said.