Gov. Ralph Northam visits Roanoke Valley

Gov. Northam, right, discussing career paths with Salem High School students in the Salem Culinary Arts program. – Photos by Shawn Nowlin

by Shawn Nowlin

Governor Ralph Northam visited Salem High School on March 11 as part of his statewide tour to get a better understanding of how the Commonwealth’s in-person learning is going.

The governor spent approximately two hours with students, district officials and staff members as Principal Scott Habeeb and Salem Superintendent Alan Seibert gave him a tour of the building. In addition to seeing the renovation work taken place at the school, Northam also observed many Career and Technical Education classes. “It was important, Northam said, to hear about all of the programs that Salem High has to offer.”

Within minutes of stepping inside the building, Northam was addressing the entire student body over the intercom. “I understand that you guys have a very successful football team,” he said. “I want to give all of you some good news. Our COVID numbers are going down and our vaccinations are going up. Thank you for all that you’ve done and will continue to do in the future.”

Among the students who got to speak to the Governor were Drew Harless, Bella Ferrate, and Austin Bethel. Before exiting the building to take questions from the press, Northam said, “Getting to meet so many talented students here today was a great experience. I have no doubt that great things await this school in the future.”

Since the beginning of the academic year, many students have been attending Salem and Roanoke City Public Schools just two days a week. Starting March 22, students have the opportunity to have four days a week of in-person instruction.

Governor Ralph Northam has made it clear that he wants to get all Virginia students back for full-time in-person learning come fall. On March 15, he required all Virginia school districts to have a plan for face-to-face instruction.

“I wanted to come around today to thank folks, thank our teachers, our students, the folks who keep our schools clean, the folks who provide nutrition to our schools, counselors,” Northam said. “We are all part of this as a team, and I think we are all ready to have COVID behind us.”

Left, Principal Scott Habeeb and SKILLS USA Champ Drew Harless, a Salem senior, talking with Governor Northam, right, in the Automotive and Diesel Department.

Never has America faced a pandemic like COVID-19. The coronavirus has impacted every community across the country. Since the first one was reported last March, Virginia has tallied more than 597,000 additional coronavirus cases. Last Monday, members of the Virginia National Guard administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the Governor and First Lady Pamela Northam.

“Virginia continues to scale up our vaccination capacity to match the increased vaccine supply we are receiving from the federal government each week,” he said on March 15. “Pam and I are thrilled to do our part by getting vaccinated, and I hope every Virginian will do the same when their turn comes.”

He concluded his visit by saying that he couldn’t be more impressed with the individuals he met.

“It was great to be here today, the home of the Spartans,” he expressed before adding, “Salem has done a great job and they have been ahead of the curve by having their children back in part-time learning in classrooms, so I really commend them.”