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Contact:  Barbara Hamm Lee, 757.889.9437


Coordinated Activities Culminate in March 28th Teacher Town Hall

NORFOLK:  Hampton Roads Media Partners WHRO, WVEC-TV, Inside Business and The Virginian-Pilot have joined forces to address the high school dropout crisis in Hampton Roads, as part of "American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen," a public media initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Every year 1 million kids drop out of high school nationwide.  In Hampton Roads, more than 2,300 students failed to graduate in 2010, according to the Virginia Department of Education.

“When our nation’s young people make the life altering decision to drop out of school, it results in severe consequences for their future and our country,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB.  “Through the ‘American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen’ initiative, America’s public radio and television stations – locally owned and operated – are engaging local non-profit partners, business leaders, parents and teachers to help young people stay on the path to a high school diploma.”

WHRO is one of more than 60 public media and television stations around the country that is working directly with their communities to address the dropout crisis.

Leading to a full day of activities on March 28th, including a visit by Harrison and culminating in a Teacher Town Hall meeting at WHRO, the media partners have coordinated the following efforts:

March 18th – a series of ads running in The Virginia-Pilot and Inside Business, drawing readers’ attention to the statistic that every 26 seconds, a child makes the decision to drop out of school, followed by relevant articles.

March 23rd – 12noon – Another View host Barbara Hamm Lee welcomes guests into the studio to talk about programs that help African American students who have dropped out of high school.  Another View airs on WHRV 89.5FM.

March 25th – op ed columns in The Virginia-Pilot by WHRO President Bert Schmidt, Norfolk School board Chair Dr. Kirk T. Houston and Virginia Ship Repair Association President Malcolm P. Branch, address different perspectives of the issue.

March 26th
  • 12noon: HearSay with Cathy Lewis show focuses on the dropout issue on WHRV 89.5FM.
  • WVEC TV13 reporter Regina Mobley begins a three-part series on the topic, including interviews with educators, retention specialists and looking at ways the community can help.
  • Challenging Circumstances: the Dropout Epidemic airs on WHRO TV15 at 9pm.
March 28th –
  • 10:30am, CPB President and CEO Patricia Harrison comes to Hampton Roads and visits Sewells Point Elementary School with Admiral Tim Alexander, Regional Commander for the Mid-Atlantic Region, to read to two first grade classes.
  • 4:30pm, WHRO hosts a reception for eighteen area teachers who participated in the StoryCorps' National Teachers Initiative, a project that is recording and preserving conversations about the diverse experiences of educators and students across in areas with high dropout rates.
  • 7pm, WHRO hosts a Teacher Town Hall Meeting, one of twelve scheduled across the country as part of the American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen initiative. Teachers from across Hampton Roads gather for a constructive conversation about what can be done to improve educational opportunities for all students. The hour long Town Hall will be streamed live on, and taped for future broadcast.
  • 7pm, Norfolk Education Foundation sponsors a Teacher Town Hall “watch party” for the community at Booker T. Washington High School.
WHRO is one of 20 public media stations around the country participating in American Graduate, and is very excited to be working with its media partners to help students stay on the path to a high school diploma.

About American Graduate
The public media initiative, American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen, is helping communities across America identify and implement solutions to address the high school dropout crisis. Supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the multi-year campaign is designed to raise awareness and dialogue through national and local multiplatform programming.  Targeting communities with the highest dropout rates, the initiative also increases local engagement and action through collaborations and partnerships, and increases student engagement through teacher professional development and classroom curricula. Public radio and television stations – locally owned and operated – reach 99% of the country over the air, have built models for successful intervention in early learning, and have deep connections in the communities they serve. Nearly 600 partnerships have been formed locally through American Graduate and CPB is partnering with America's Promise Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Visit American Graduate on Facebook, Twitter or

About WHRO
WHRO is a regional media company that promotes education, culture and citizenship to the citizens of Hampton Roads, Virginia through a variety of services.  Every day, thousands of viewers and listeners tune in to broadcast programming on WHRO’s four public television and eight public radio stations.  Since its founding in 1961 to support education, WHRO has employed creativity and technology to serve its mission to enrich audiences through content that educates, entertains and promotes understanding. Owned by 18 local school divisions, WHRO delivers educational and new media services to 286,000 students and 25,000 educators per month as well.

About The Virginian-Pilot
The Virginian-Pilot (commonly called "The Pilot") is a daily newspaper based in Norfolk, Virginia, and serving the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, southeastern Virginia, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. The flagship property of Landmark Media Enterprises, The Pilot is Virginia's largest daily metro paper.

WVEC is the ABC affiliate television station for the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, which includes Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, and the surrounding area. It is licensed to Hampton, with its main studio in downtown Norfolk. Its transmitter is located in Suffolk, Virginia. The station broadcasts on channel 13, and is owned by the Belo Corporation.

About Inside Business
Inside Business is published and mailed weekly, and produces a website which posts breaking business stories and pertinent local news and information content. Inside Business publish an extensive local business calendar, information about awards, contracts, business hiring and promotions, and the most comprehensive legal advertising in Hampton Roads.

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,300 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.