Gray/black belt in jiu jitsu

I’m excited and nervous to go to middle school next year. It will be bigger and I will probably forget my locker combination, but I think after a week or two I’ll be adjusted. I’ll be going to Princess Anne Middle School. One thing that I hope to continue when I’m there is art. I like art a lot and am in the Old Donation School program right now.

When I’m not at school I do martial arts. I have a gray/black belt in jiu jitsu and I’ve also been doing muay thai for several months. Muay thai is more punching and kicking and jiu jitsu is arm bars and choking, so I’ve learned different things from each. I really enjoy going on competitions and tournaments with my Dojo because we go as a big group and it’s a lot of fun.


Meteorology and architecture

I’m really interested in the Governor’s STEM at Landstown. I went to their open house and they had different classes that we went to as part of the open house. I originally went there thinking I would be interested in architecture, but when I went there the engineering class really called to me. Instead of drawing the building, it was more about what it was made of and how well it can hold up against the physical, environmental and other factors surrounding it.

My first sentence when I was little was “Local on the eights,” from the Weather Channel. I always loved weather and when I was in fifth grade I wanted to be a tornado chaser, but I’ve matured from that and am now more concerned about the engineering side of things. My ultimate goal is to design weather-resistant buildings. A building – not a bunker – a real building that looks good on the outside, houses people regularly and can also withstand a category F-3 tornado, with minimal damage or a category F-4 or F-5 with minimal damage and minimal casualties. By merging my interests of meteorology and architecture I hope to start a new way of how buildings are created.

Police officers help

I like third grade, but the only thing I don’t love is that we have a lot of tests. I have a test tomorrow on reading, but I think I’ll do OK on it. My favorite part of school right now is art because I really like painting and making sculptures. I do art at home too.

When I grow up I want to be a police officer. Police officers help people and I really like helping people. It’s also really cool when they drive in the police car with the lights on. I really like their uniforms too. After I graduate from school I’ll go to school to learn to be a police officer.


My class went to the science lab yesterday and made oobleck. Oobleck is like slime, but it can be slimy and hard too. When you put your hand in it, it’s soft and slimy, but when you make it hard, it’s hard as a rock.

When I get older I want to be in a movie, like Descendants 4. If there is ever a Descendants 4 I would want to be in it. I like pretending and dressing up. I pretend to make videos of myself in my mirror. I usually make slime videos and make-up tutorials.

Track is still my favorite

In interested in science. In math there is only one right answer, in science there could be a number of answers why something is happening. I’m also into sports too. Every time I get hurt during practice or a game I’ll ask what part of the body, bone or muscle was effected.

Recently, after speaking to my activity coordinator, I started playing soccer. I also play basketball and track and he saw me running and said I should try it out. My dad played soccer, so I grew up playing it and now I play for school. But, track is still my favorite. This year I think I want to try sprinting instead of distance running.

Imagine yourself


Many people want to be successful. They want to be an astronaut, they want to have the best grades, they want to be the best football player. And they imagine themselves with the rewards and benefits of being what they want to be. But they don’t know what it means to want to be that person. What I would suggest to younger students who have a goal is to imagine themselves doing what it takes to achieve that goal. Don’t imagine yourself on the podium in first place. Imagine yourself in practice. Practicing to be in first place. I wrestle. So when I’m at home, I imagine myself wrestling. I imagine myself doing the moves. I don’t imagine myself on the podium, waving my hands, smiling, taking photos. It’s not important to actual wrestling.

The rewards that you want are not what you should yearn for. You should yearn for practicing. You should be able to accept a friend asking you to go to a party, and you turning them down, because you need to study. Lots of students would rather go to that party because that party will help them fit in. I want to stand out. So I’ll be that standout. I’ll be the one to say “no” so I can sit there and study and be the best I can be.

Leave a legacy

I love being a security guard because it allows me to be involved with all the kids. Being a security guard I see everybody – all the kids, all the staff members and all the administrators – and am someone who is able to put a smile on all their faces.

When interacting with the kids I try to be an extension of their parents. Being a parent – I have two sons myself – you send your children off to school and hoping they are safe and watched over. I talk to these kids and give them advice like their parents would talk to them and give them the same type of love their parents would give them.

Everyday I try to leave a legacy. Each day I want to leave a positive impact on someone’s life. I believe that as adults and as children we struggle in life because we don’t know our purpose. Once you find your purpose life becomes easier because you know what you are here to do.

Instead of shouting at a child running down the hallway or being a little disruptive, instead of saying, “Stop running,” I rather say, “Hey, coming here. How was your weekend?” You never know what they are going through, sometimes they just need someone to talk to and are acting out for attention. I try to be that person they can confide in.

I like a challenge

I think high school will be a little challenging, but I’m ready for it. I like a challenge. I’m wanting to join the academy at Salem. I want to take art classes.

When I’m not at school I listen to music, play football and play basketball. I’m part of the offensive line for the school team. Sometimes, I like to draw and sing at the same time. I just lock myself in my room and paint or draw pictures. Hours at a time. I usually sing songs by Beyoncé, or those songs that just get stuck in your head.

Is art something you see yourself doing as a career?

When I grow up I plan on being either a doctor or a lawyer. I’m really inspired by Ben Carson. Ben Carson is an African-American doctor who rose above what others said he could and couldn’t do. People were telling him that he couldn’t be a doctor because of his skin color, but he took it to the next level and became one of the best doctors.

I’m more into math

I’m pretty excited for high school next year. I’ll be going to Cox. It’s a good school and my dad teaches there. He teaches science. I’m more into math, but he used to teach math as well. It’s great because if I ever need help with homework I can just ask my dad.

What do you enjoy when you aren’t at school?

I have a lot of sports that I do, but softball is my favorite. I’m a catcher on a rec team, but I’ll be doing a travel ball soon. I also plan to try out for the team when I get to Cox.

What would you like to do after finishing school? Do you have a dream job?

My dream job, well, right now it’s between three. I either want to be an anesthesiologist, but I know it’s hard, a veterinarian or an orthodontist. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a doctor and watched medical shows on television. I don’t know what these three are interesting to me, but they are.

This is where I need to be

Photo of Mr. Hinmon

I started working in the division as a school bus driver in 2011. This is my second year as an office associate and I love it. I love it. I enjoy building relationships with the kids. Those relationships are what made me say, “This is where I need to be.”

What makes you look forward to coming into work every day?

Just seeing the kids. Seeing their faces smiling. I see a lot of students every day, not all of them like it, but I greet them with a smile, because it’s the small things that make a difference. It’s all about making a difference, whether it be out-and-about at Walmart when you see a student or parent or in the school.

I love what I do. It’s all about the kids. I planning on pursuing my education more in the future. I’ll be a teacher, counselor, student support specialist or Special Education teacher. I want to stay in the education field. I already have my bachelor’s degree in business and information technology, but I didn’t really want to do IT. Once I started driving the bus I realized, this is where I need to be.

Surfing Adventures

I enjoy surfing a lot. Almost every week. My dad and my brothers taught me how to surf and during the summer we have huge surfing adventures. During the winter we still go a lot. I have a wet-suit so temperature doesn’t really matter.

My favorite part about surfing is how free you feel when you are on the water. And, it’s fun. It’s so fun. If you haven’t ever surfed you should try it. Watching surfing competitions are fun to watch too. I think they’re adding surfing to the Olympics in 2020.

I run for track and play on the soccer team, but surfing is the most fun. They should have a surfing team at school. I really want to be a professional surfer when I get older. All the traveling would be just so much fun. Plus, you would make so many friends.

Fish named Fishywatson

When my cousins come over we do gymnastics and it’s a lot of fun. It’s fun, but we have to be careful because my dog is so small we might step on her. She’s pitch black and her name is Darla, she’s a Shih Tzu and a toy Poodle mixed up and she’s very adorable. I think we got her on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. I don’t remember which. She’s really fast, but I’m faster.

I also have a pet fish named Fishywatson and another dog named Diggy. I don’t know how old Fishywatson or Darla are, but I do know how old Diggy is. He’s seven. I’m six. Diggy is old. His hair on his body is gray. I love playing with all my dogs and Fishywatson. #WeAreVBSchools

I love teaching watercolor

I’m a photographer. Photography was always one of my passions. But when comes to teaching, I love teaching watercolor. It’s so easy. It’s fluid to work with. It allows for mistakes. But it’s one of those mediums where it doesn’t have to be super perfect. Sometimes the surprise of watercolor really is fun, especially with the younger kids.

Initially I went to school for fashion design and when I got there, I was like “Eh, this is not really what I want.” So I went into art education and loved it and never looked back. Whenever I was teaching in the classroom, I was like “I am so happy, this is what I want to do, this is where I am meant to be.” Now, I’m training art teachers. It’s full circle.

Waking up that early

The number one thing I’m not looking forward to about high school is waking up that early. I don’t know if I can do it. I’ll most likely be going to Ocean Lakes, but ATC has some graphic design and entrepreneurship classes I’m interested in. I went last year and got to see the stuff that they did. It was pretty cool. For one of the projects they had to create one poster that summed up all 50 states in one image. I liked seeing what they all came up with. #WeAreVBSchools

Running back for the Miami Dolphins

Math and science are my favorite subjects right now. I like science because of the explosions. Like, the explosion you get when you add Mentos to Coke and it erupts and makes a big explosion. It’s really cool.

Outside of school I’m really into football. I want to be an NFL player when I grow up. I’ll be a wide receiver or running back for the Miami Dolphins, for sure. Three is my lucky number so I’ll have to have that on my jersey. There’s no reason three is my lucky number, but it just is.

She will love it

I’m really excited about Christmas this year. I’m excited because I was able to pick out everyone’s gift by myself. I only have my mom left, and that’s who I’m focused on right now. She’s tough to buy things for, but I know she will love it – whatever I give her. She always does.  I don’t remember what I gave her last year, so as long as I don’t give her the same thing I think it will be okay. I just have to remember what I got her soon.

I really like getting presents for others to open, and watching them open them. It’s excited to see their faces when they really like something you got them. So, this year should be fun.


I’m the last defensive line

Environmental Science is a really cool thing. I’m really interested in going into politics when I’m older, so learning about the environment really important considering all the changes that are happening.

I put other people first. It seems like I’m being foolish sometimes, but I really care about everyone else. My people matter most to me. I’ll do whatever I can to help people, that’s my leadership mentality. I think that I’m really passionate about leadership, about service leadership. Leadership isn’t just about leading, it’s about getting others to believe in what you’re doing.

I was playing soccer, and went for a tackle. I was playing field, even though I don’t usually play field. And someone just kicked me and it didn’t end well for me. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t like a cool save where I can be like “I’m just a really good goal keeper.” I was just trying something new, it didn’t work. I like being a goalie because I’m the last defensive line. Things that I do actually matter, take a direct toll on the game. I like feeling that bit of control, like I can help the team.

A “ROCK STAR” had arrived

A parent wrote a letter praising your contributions to the school. How does that make you feel?

Pretty awesome. It’s just awesome. I so glad that I make an impact.

What do you like about being a Technology Support Technician (TST)?

I’m not going to lie, being a TST is ‘meh’. But being a TST for an elementary school, is the best. It’s being able to interact with kids and say hello in the morning. I’m not typically a morning person, but when the kids are walking up to you saying, “Good morning!” you can’t help but reflect some of that back.

Something that’s mentioned in the letter we received, was origami. How did you become interested?

Origami is something I started back in middle school, and fell out of for a little while when I got older. When I started here I started getting back into it as something I could do, because, your folding paper. One day a kid came up to me and said, “That’s really cool, can I have that.” So, it’s grown and now I have this long list of requests, and there’s crazy rules of how students can get on the list.

Read the parent’s letter below.


Xander, not Alexander

What should people know about you?

First off, I want people to know that is Xander, not Alexander. That’s what I go by. I play quarterback for Ocean Lakes High School, and I strive to be a leader on and off the field. I also want people to know that I take my grades seriously and I love coming to school. I don’t want high school to end, because I’m not sure what college will bring. I have a handful of colleges and tracks that I’m looking at, but nothing pegged down yet.

I love football, but it won’t be the make or break decision for what college I attend. The education is my first priority. My dad always told me that it’s not about the four years in college, it’s about the forty years after college that matter the most.

I love animals

My family and I love traveling, but sometimes it’s hard because sometimes we have to leave our cats behind. We have two. And it’s really hard because I miss them so much. Especially my cat, Lil’ Miss. She’s like my everything. I love her so much. She even sleeps with me sometimes. When I’m sick, she’ll come sleep in the window by my bed.

I love animals, just like my dad. My mom just likes dogs. My sister too. But, me and my dad, we like all animals. This one time, when we still lived in Pennsylvania, we all went to a pet store to look. There was this cute little ferret. It was so cute! My mom said they stink and that she won’t allow it, but it was so cute! I kept telling her, I don’t care if he smells, he’s so cute.


Just be yourself

I’ve bleached my hair before, dyed it blue, shaved it off completely and now it’s pink. It’s always changing. It’s a way to express myself as an artist.

I really like being in the art program. We get a lot of assignments that you don’t expect. I mainly use pencils and colored pencils, but I’m trying to branch out to digital and watercolor.

My sense of mind has changed a lot over the past two years. Mostly since January. I’ve made a resolution to have more faith in myself and who I am, to focus on my artwork and not let negative things happening around bother me. So far it is working out pretty well. Sometimes it still gets to me, but my art really helps me get back into the right mindset.

I am an artist, I have talent and I have my own opinions about things. I hope everyone can come to the realization that it’s worth finding out who you are as an individual. Do your own thing. Don’t try to copy someone else. Just be yourself.

Something kind of magical

Being an administrative assistant where I was a teacher for 12 years has been challenging to navigate at times. But I love Princess Anne. I think there is something kind of magical about this school. We have lots of passionate teachers who are experts in their content area and experts in instruction, but what I think is really special about Princess Anne is that all of these teachers also care about their students’ development and what they’re doing outside the classroom. They want to nurture those students and help them become more confident people. That’s why I wanted to stay here.

It’s sort of like the tryout to be Assistant Principal. I had been teaching for a number of years, and I wanted to do something different. I felt like I wanted to affect change in a different way. I was the Department Chair for World Languages. I found that I really liked working with adults, and talking with adults about what good instruction looks like and how to help kids. I really enjoyed that part of my job. And so I decided to make the leap.

I’m surprised by how unpredictable the day is. As a teacher, I knew exactly where I would be at 7:20 and at 10:28, I knew what class I was teaching, what students I would see. With this position, I may come in and have my day scheduled out, and I’ll think I’m going to meet with different students, and I’m going to do classroom observations. And then some emergency arises and I spend my day doing that.

I was apprehensive about doing discipline and interacting with students who were having difficulty in the classroom, but it’s actually been my favorite part of the job. Just having the opportunity to sit down and talk with students and really listen to them and hear what is happening and why they’re having these problems, and to help them come up with self-management strategies has been really rewarding for me. #WeAreVBSchools

Earth’s core

My dad retired from the Navy. He worked with computers.

I think my dad is going to get a job where he has to turn on something before it goes off. And if it goes off the company has to pay $1.2 million to turn it back on. It’s a really easy job if you don’t fall asleep or get tired of it.

No it’s not easy. He has to look at every single program in the whole shipyard. He’ll be the one protecting the system.

Every single system has it’s properties, so a bunch of stuff goes on, and he’s responsible for monitoring all these things at once.

I’ll probably not join the Navy, but I want to travel.

When I grow up I want to be a miner.

That’s not a good idea. They don’t do that anymore, because they have drills.

Yes, they do. I’ll control the drills.

Oh, you have to be really good at computers to do that.

I’m good at computers, or I’ll just use a pickaxe. I’m going to mine and then sell.

You’ll have to make a pretty large area to keep on going, because it could collapse.

Or, I could just build things. Be a scavenger. Get things. Build something with it. Sell it and get money.

I once heard a kid had a dream that he could mine to Africa, but you can’t do that.

Yes, you can.

You’ll need a drill. It will need to be waterproof and heatproof. But be careful to not hit Earth’s core! If you put anything, even a tiny pebble, in the core, the whole planet would just collapse. The core is surrounded by lava, so if you have enough power to get to the core you will have the ability to destroy the world.

Yes, all it takes is a pebble, or even a stick!

Self-taught gymnast

On Wednesdays I go to ODS and do my gifted dance education. I like modern and ballet the most and dancing with the whole group. I like dancing to fast, medium and slow music. One of my favorite singers is Ariana Grande – she makes good dancing music.

I’m also a self-taught gymnast. I’ve learned a lot of skills by myself. I can do a back-handspring, an aerial, a back-walkover, front-handspring step-out and a handstand. I mostly learn them from YouTube and practice. The aerial and the back-handspring took the longest to learn.


To uplift others

You two are the drum majors for the marching band. What does that mean to you?

I like to think of myself as a leader. I like to serve others as a leader. Nobody really wants to be a leader, and that’s why they are so important.

To uplift others in our band. We got more people to come out of there shells and talk to people. That’s the best part of it – to help everyone emerge, so we can collectively be better. With freshman or new members to the band, it’s important to help them feel like part of the team. The band is kind of weird. We hang out outside of practice, which is crazy because they are so long, but we have parties, pool parties, just talk to each other. Slowly they get to know everyone – after that initial shock.

You show them that it’s okay to be out of your shell. You can be silly with your friends and be serious with your music.

How did you first get involved in band?

My mom played flute in marching band, so when sixth grade came along I thought I’d give it a try and I ended up loving it. I’m in so many band things now. I play trumpet in the top group and French horn in intermediate – I’m learning a new instrument so, kind of hard.

I started in band because a bunch of my friends were a part of it, so I thought I’d join too.

What makes this band different?

Our members dedication. We have a lot of hours. When we were in the marching competition season a big group of us were staying at school from when we got here at 7 a.m. until sometimes as late at 9 p.m. at night. We’re really dedicated to what we do and we really enjoy what we do.

We just love each other, too. Every time we go out on the field together we are preforming our best for each other. Everyone gets along. We have dinners together before football games or competitions and everyone is just goofing around. There’s not drama or anything – for the most part. It’s a fun and really cool group to be a part of.

I like having brothers…most of the time

I like a lot of sports. I like basketball. I like lacrosse. I’ve played football, baseball, soccer and a lot more. Basketball, I’m really good at. I play point guard and defensive point guard. I’m about to start my season and I’m playing with a new team. I like basketball because on defense I can get a little aggressive. I have fouled out a couple times. This year I’m playing on a team that’s one the championship, like, three times in a row, because the coaches are really good at coaching.

I have almost three brothers. One isn’t born yet. His name is going to be Chase. I wanted a girl, but my mom says she’s done trying. My oldest brother’s name is Elijah and my youngest brother’s name is Logan, he’s two. My mom’s the only girl.

My oldest brother gets in fights with me a lot, but since I’m younger there’s nothing I can really do. But he also sticks up for me too. He plays football and basketball with me, and we keep playing the same sports. I like having brothers…most of the time. #WeAreVBSchools

I stand out from other people

I play piano, saxophone, ukulele, cello and violin. My dad’s side of the family always plays music and it interested. Also, because of this, I stand out from other people. I’ve played saxophone longer, but recently I’ve been learning cello. I’m going to apply to the academy. I like learning music and play as many instruments as I can, but I also really, really love math and science. If you think of a job that combines science, math and music let me know.

I want to be something and make something of myself. I want to be known. I want everyone to be happy.

I want to help people

I like middle school so much. I didn’t know that we would take so many classes, but I’m glad that I get to choose some of them. My electives this year are French, Teen Living, Computer Solutions and Art. I already did French and it was a lot of fun. I’m in Teen Living right now and we’ll starting the sewing and cooking soon. I’m hoping to learn cook and help more at home.

When I’m not at school I spend time with my friends in the neighborhood, we have a lot of fun together. We go to the park or in the summer to my friends pool. I also read a lot. I really enjoy reading.

Have you thought about what you would like to be when you grow up?

I’m looking at being a teacher when I grow up. Maybe teach math. Or maybe I’ll be a dentist. I want to help people and make sure they are safe doing whatever I decide to do. #WeAreVBSchools

A banana costume falls from the ceiling

Me and my friend Evan made a stop-motion about a superhero. We thought of the most generic mode name, Cornman. He made a comic of it as a joke then we made a stop-motion of it for the talent show. It took us three weeks to make two minutes of footage, because for each movement you take one picture, so it took a while.

It takes place in a newsroom with Steve Stevenson – creative naming- he was in the newsroom when a robot-toilet-thing breaks in, then he goes to his secret lair, the Corn Lair, and becomes Cornman and saves the day. We also kept changing our story. In another version, Steve Stevenson, again is in the newsroom, and somebody breaks in. Something in a banana costume falls from the ceiling – for obvious reasons – Steve Stevenson becomes Cornman and busts open the banana. It’s Dr. Wolfenstein.

I really liked doing the voices and creating the characters.  With Dr. Wolfenstein, we combined a werwolf and a scientist, and there was only one way it could go. Perfect. #WeAreVBSchools


Here I am listening to Joy Division

I draw quit a bit. I would say I started drawing seriously in the summer of fifth grade. I also like to paint and I like drawing traditionally and digitally. I like fashion. I have weird hair. It’s a mullet. This is the most normal I’ve dressed in a while. It was cold this morning. I really, really like 70’s fashion and music from the early 80’s. The Talking Heads, Joy Division, the Cure and being an artist I like the Gorillaz.

I’m also into the horror genre. Psychological thrillers. I like surrealism horror. On another side, I like Fantastic Mr. Fox. I like how orange it is. One of the reasons I don’t like modern movies is because a lot of them are blue. Next time you’re watching a movie, really pay attention and you’ll see how blue they are. Especially those Avengers movies – they are so blue. But, Fantastic Mr. Fox, the whole movie is orange and I really like that.

It’s funny, all my friends listen to hip hop and K-pop, but here I am listening to Joy Division.