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Elementary Schools Prepare for New Arrivals

First day of school looms for area students.

Some new faces will be welcoming Herndon's elementary school students when they head back to school on Sept. 3. Karen Siple and Lucinda Rhomberg are taking over the reigns at Floris Elementary and Dranesville Elementary, respectively. And while leadership hasn't changed at Herndon's other elementary schools, there is plenty of change to report. From phones in the classroom (Clearview) to bulldozers digging new soccer fields (Hutchison), Herndon's elementary schools and their staffs haven't taken the summer off. As the area children enjoy their last few weeks of summer sun by the pool, here is a rundown of what they have to look forward to next month.

<b>Clearview Elementary</b>, under the guidance of Principal Sheila Bertrand, is getting a new Early Head Start Program this year. Beginning in October, the federally funded program, the first of its kind in Herndon, will provide child care for eight "income eligible" infants and eight toddlers whose parents are working towards their high school diploma. The Early Head Start program will have two full-time teachers and will provide a parenting course, as well. Clearview is also welcoming Karen Woods, its new special education resource teacher. Also new this year, teachers will be equipped with their own classroom telephone, complete with voicemail. Parents, of the expected 625 students, will have easier access to their children's teachers. As part of their upgrade to the telephone system, Clearview has a new telephone number this year: 703-708-6000. Vastera, a software delivery company, will continue to provide a mentoring program to the school's sixth grade students, said Bertrand, who is starting her 14th year.

Important Dates: Open House will be Thursday, Aug. 29 at 9:30 a.m. Back-to-School-Night is scheduled for Sept. 12 at 6:35. For more information, contact the school at 703-708-6000.

Lucinda Rhomberg takes over for Beverly Morrison, the longtime principal at <b>Dranesville Elementary School</b> this year. Besides the arrival of Rhomberg, Dranesville students will have plenty of new faces greeting them on Sept. 3. According to Assistant Principal Willy Nance, six new teachers are joining the Dranesville family this fall. In addition, Aimee Wood, a former physical education teacher at the school, is coming back this year. Nance said Dranesville will have roughly 800 students enrolled when classes begin next month. The school is capable of handling "at least 1,000 students," she said. The school's hours have not changed.

Important Dates: The Dranesville Open House will be Aug. 29 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.. Back-to-School-Night is scheduled for Oct. 3 at 7 p.m.. For more information, contact the school at 703-326-5200.

Over at <b>Herndon Elementary School</b>, administrators are expecting about 700 students this year, just under the school's capacity of 747. While Herndon lost one of its two assistant principals, Bill Vardeman, it is gaining five new teachers, said Lorraine Walker, the school's remaining AP. Herndon will be opening its new Math Lab this fall available to all students. In addition, students in grades one through three will be getting new math books. The goal of the lab is for remediation and extension of existing skills, Walker said. The 2002-3 school year at Herndon will mark the second year for its Gifted and Talented, or GT, lab and for the on-site computer lab. Minerals Management Service will continue its 14th year working with Herndon Elementary. MMS provides mentors and tutors as well as technology support and training to the school's 39 teachers.

Important Dates: Open House is Aug. 29 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. for Kindergarten and from 3 to 4 p.m. for all other grades. Back-to-School-Night is Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. For more information, contact the school at 703-326-3100.

When <b>Oak Hill Elementary</b> opens again this September, Principal Marie Merenda will be on hand to welcome the 651 students as they march into school. Thanks to the school's under-enrollment (it can house up to 850) students, there are no trailers on the campus. Columbia Gas is continuing their partnership with Oak Hill by providing field trips to the plant and donating time and helping with the school's ongoing fund-raising efforts.

Important Dates: Oak Hill's Open House is scheduled for Aug. 29. For Kindergarten the Open House festivities will kick-off at 9:45 a.m. and last until 10:45. For all other grades, the program will run from 2 to 3 p.m. Back-to-School-Night will be Thursday, Sept. 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, contact the school at 703-467-3500.

With two years under his belt as principal of <b>Crossfield Elementary</b>, Dr. Jerry Kovalcik is eager to start his third at the 15-year-old Herndon school. New to Crossfield this year will be the second of two mobile laptop computer labs complete with wireless web technology. With a staff of about 65, including 30 classroom teachers, Kovalcik looks to build on the momentum of last year's "Differentiated Instruction." The goals of the innovative year-old curriculum, according to the principal, are to challenge the best and brightest students and to help those who are struggling. To accomplish these goals, it is important for educators to vary the way in which they teach students, Kovalcik said. Kovalcik is expecting 811 children on Sept. 3; the school can house a total of 876. Crossfield will continue its partnership with Unisys Federal. Unisys workers help with the school's mentoring program, dubbed "lunch time buddies," a program that matches students with mentors from the staff, volunteers or Unisys.

Important Dates: Open House at Crossfield will be held for students and family of first and second graders as well as new students on Aug. 30 at 9 a.m. Back-to-School-Night will be held on Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. for grades K through three and at 7 p.m. on Sept. 26 for grades four through six. For more information, contact Crossfield at 703-295-1100.

The Karen Siple era officially begins at <b>Floris Elementary</b> as the 126-year-old Herndon institution starts its 127th year this September. By the first day of classes, Siple expects to have between 780 and 800 students in grades K through six. While enrollment has exceeded Floris' capacity (760), the three trailers out back won't be used for full-time classrooms, said Siple. Instead they are being used for music classes. The Japanese immersion program will continue this year, as well, Siple added. The first-year principal won't be the only new face around Floris' well-trodden halls, however. She will be joined by seven new teachers, who will help fill out a staff of nearly 80. Beginning this school year, Floris has joined up with BJ's (a wholesale warehouse chain) in the Adopt-a-School Program and their ongoing mentoring program with EDS will also continue.

Important Dates: Open House will be Thursday, Aug. 29 from 10 to 11 (A-M) and 1 to 2 p.m. (N-Z). Back-to-School-Night is scheduled for Sept. 24 and 26. Grades four through six, plus PM Kindergarten, are invited to attend on Sept. 24. Two nights later, grades one through three and AM Kindergarten will convene. On both nights, Back-to-School-Night will run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, call Floris Elementary at 703-561-2900.

"It's empty and quiet without the students around here," said <b>Hutchison Elementary</b> Principal Sheila Kearney. "I am just looking forward to standing out on the street corner and welcoming them back in a few weeks." Kearney, in her second year as principal, is in her third tour of duty with the Parcher Avenue elementary school. Kearney started her career as a teacher there and was an assistant principal for four years, as well. "There's a reason people stay here or if they leave, they always come back," Kearney said. "It really is the Hutchison family." This year the family is supposed to be between 680 and 700 students strong. "For the first time in years," according to Kearney, no regular classes will be housed in trailers. With a staff of about 60 and 31 full-time classroom teachers, Hutchison will build on the initiatives it started last year. Students in sixth, and in some cases fifth, grades will continue learning math and language arts using the middle school model of flexible grouping strategies. This approach targets lessons for children who are excelling and for those who are struggling, Kearney said. Hutchison will also mark its 10th year partnership with NIMA, the National Image Mapping Association. NIMA helps with the school's geography bee, provides field trips and assists with speakers during career day. Hutchison's partnership with Herndon's United Floris Methodist Church will also continue this year. In the past, United Floris has donated school supplies, food for needy students and toys during the holidays. The 2002-2003 school year will also mark the second year volunteers from United Floris have taught English classes to 100-150 Spanish speaking parents of Hutchison students.

Important Dates: The Hutchison Open House will be Aug. 29 at 11 a.m.. Back-to-School-Night is scheduled for Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.. For more information, contact the school at 703-925-8300.

Rising sixth graders at <b>Fox Mill Elementary</b> might not recognize their teachers come Sept. 3. That's because Principal Janet Foster is welcoming two new sixth grade instructors into the fold at Fox Mill. Debbie Arnsperger and Tammy Walther (formerly of Herndon Elementary) will help the Viking Drive school's senior statesmen off into middle school. According to Ed Pisano, assistant principal, one-third of Fox Mill's 630 students will take part in the school's Japanese immersion program this coming year. In addition, Fox Mill will continue to partner with DTRA, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. In the past, DTRA has donated computers, provided manpower for the school's Field Day activities and helped with Veteran's Day programs.

Important Dates: Fox Mill's annual Open House will be Aug. 29 from 1 to 2 p.m. for grades one through six and PM Kindergarten. Open House for AM Kindergarten will run from 10-11 a.m. Back-to-School-Night is scheduled for Sept. 24 from 6:30- 7:15 p.m. for grades four through six and PM Kindergarten. The PTA will meet from 7:15- 7:45 p.m.. Following the meeting at 7:45 p.m., Back-to-School-Night will resume for first through third grades, plus AM Kindergarten. PTA meetings, except in September, will be held the first Tuesday of every month. For more information, call 703-262-2700.