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$4M grant aims to help Virginia Beach students with college-level courses

Cameron Xenakis knows the Advanced Placement test that her 11th graders will take soon won't be easy: They'll face more than three hours of multiple choice questions and essays.

But Xenakis, who teaches English at Princess Anne High, began preparing early – last summer, to be precise.

Princess Anne is one of five city high schools that began implementing the National Math and Science Initiative College Readiness Program this year, thanks to a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Cox, Kempsville, Landstown and Ocean Lakes are the other schools. Five other city schools received three-year grants early this decade.

A bit of a misnomer because it also focuses on English, NMSI aims to help students in college-level courses. It also tries to widen the pool of youngsters doing work on that level, so those who might not ordinarily think about taking AP classes are sought out. Virginia Beach offers more than a dozen AP classes in science, math or English.

There are more than 2,000 military-connected students at the five high schools, according to the division.

NMSI provides training for teachers, including opportunities  the summer before the school year begins. It also offers weekend learning sessions involving teachers and students, and youngsters can hone test strategies. 

Xenakis feels like she has become more than just an instructor. She is a teammate, guiding and encouraging her youngsters.