UNCW, Wilmington Community Celebrate Grand Opening of DCVPA

On July 24, UNCW and D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy held a grand opening event to celebrate the new DCVPA. The former New Hanover County middle school opened its doors to 250 students in grades K-8 in July, through a unique partnership between UNCW, NHCS and the D.C. Virgo community. UNCW announced the official opening of DCVPA in a home page story on July 18.

In welcoming remarks at the opening celebration, D. C. Virgo principal Sabrina Hill-Black thanked the DCVPA development team, Virgo faculty and community partners for their “palpable passion to do what is in the best interest of children and families.”

UNCW Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli, UNCW Board of Trustee member Wilma Daniels, D.C. Virgo Alumni Association member Acquenetta Wheeler and Watson College Dean Van Dempsey also spoke at the event, voicing strong support for collaborative efforts to launch the new DCVPA with a goal of enhancing opportunities for students and families.

Following opening remarks, Virgo students and teachers joined the celebration in a parade of classes. Led by music teacher David DiMuro, UNCW leaders and community members welcomed them with the Nigerian song Funga Alafia. Children grinned and adults teared up as the assembled group sang, “We welcome you with our minds, our words and our hearts.”

Other highlights included a keynote address by Princeton Parker and a sand ceremony, designed to inspire connections between students of various grade levels and the community, and symbolize the new kinship model at the school.

Parker challenged students to believe in themselves and envision the future. He also challenged community members to see beyond today’s reality, envision possibilities for children and step up to help them get there.

“I work for Disney,” Parker said. “The hardest part of watching a Disney movie is to look at a single scene, see what is happening and then look beyond it to see what could be. It’s what you can see beyond that will determine the future.”

“Never stop seeing,” Parker said. “Then fight for it, fund it and teach it.”

The event culminated in a joint appearance by UNCW’s Sammy C. Hawk and Virgo’s lion, Lamont. The two mascots danced on stage before welcoming UNCW’s newest Seahawks with hugs and high-fives.

“Being a part of the DC Virgo grand opening was an absolute pleasure,” said Watson College Dean Van Dempsey. “The entire morning was about excitement and joy, visible on the faces of every child and adult at the ceremony.  A year of hard work and intensive effort were more than matched by the sense of optimism and hope at the school that morning. I applaud all the educators, community members, families and supporters who are part of the life of Virgo, and that have made this great story happen.”

Photos from the grand opening celebration can be viewed here

A video of the event produced by UNCW’s broadcast media team can be viewed here:

Donyell Roseboro and Jessica Swencki worked with Hill-Black and a team from the Watson College and D.C. Virgo to coordinate the grand opening event. Roseboro is associate dean for Teacher Education and Outreach at the Watson College and Swencki is UNCW’s lab school implementation coordinator.

For more information on the new D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, visit the DPCVA website.