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Reston Schools, Ready for Action

August 8, 2002

Dogwood Elementary, a year-round school which re-opened two weeks ago, has 80 more students than last year. With 605 students, the school has had to increase by four classrooms.

"We don’t know," said principal Ricki Harvey. "The word’s out. It’s a good school."

She said several students have been pupil-placed to take advantage of the daycare program.

Some Dogwood sixth graders will be taking part in a program called Cyber Seniors. The students will teach area senior citizens to use computers and other pieces of technology.

"It will help the kids become really proficient in technology and they will be able to give back to the community," Harvey said.

Dogwood is also one of 27 schools taking part in the Lead Fairfax project. The project involves a series of workshops designed to "develop teachers as leaders," Harvey said.

Hunters Woods is in the midst of several interior construction projects, some of which will be finished this school year. In the fall, the school will be opening its new primary wing, a new library and a renovated cafeteria. The construction project will be finished by fall of the 2003-2004 school year. The building will feature a mobile lap top computer lab and art gallery space. Currently, as Hunters Woods staff prepare for the new year, they are forced to work around the construction.

"We're living through renovation," said principal Steven Hockett. "They really pick up the pace during the summer, when the kids are out, so we're doing our best."

Hockett anticipates an enrollment of 900 to 925 students this year, 50 to 75 more students than last year. He attributes the increase to changes in the gifted and talented testing procedure. Fairfax County introduced a non-verbal test, which has admitted several non-native English speakers into gifted programs.

Aldrin is gearing up for another school year and expecting to enroll about 770 students. Two new general education teachers have been hired, as well as a new reading special education teacher.

This year, Aldrin will focus on improving technology and inclusion programs in special education. Once again, Aldrin and Marymount University will team up for its PDA program, where graduate-level interns teach under supervision at the school to earn masters in education degrees as well as their Virginia teacher's licenses.

Last year, members of the Armstrong faculty took on their counterparts at Aldrin elementary in the first annual basketball game between the schools. Held at Herndon High School, the event attracted more than 1,000 spectators.

"It was so much fun for kids," said Armstrong principal Cynthia West.

Although the two teams didn't keep score, West admitted that Aldrin's players were a little more skilled Armstrong's players. And, this year, the Armstrong principal wants a rematch.

"If they're up to it, we'll be ready," West said.

The school had a new playground installed in the spring, and the parking lot was recently paved.

The school will have one extra morning kindergarten class this year, for a total of two morning classes and one afternoon class. The school's autism program is expanding, with additional students enrolled, so West hopes to add an additional session. There is a new PTA president, Beth Gilley, at the school this year and West hopes to continue the cooperation between parents, the community and the school.

There will be around 460 students in the main school this year.

The Armstrong Center, designed for students with emotional disabilities, will serve 50-60 students. Matt Harris is the principal of the Armstrong Center.

Forest Edge will continue popular programs, such as Homework Shop, Odyssey of the Mind, Chess Club and the Harry Potter Book Club for the new school year. The school’s staff of 106 includes about 60 teachers, led by principal Frank Bensinger. They expect enrollment of about 900 students this year.

Forest Edge already houses a gifted center and uses inclusion programs to work with special education students. In anticipation of next year’s renovation, the school has 17 trailers on site.

Lake Anne will kick off its dual language immersion program this year. Half of the students in the program, which is designed for kindergartners, will be native Spanish speakers, while the other half will be English speakers. During half of the full day kindergarten session, the students will speak English. During the other half of the day, they will speak Spanish.

"We have about eight people on the waiting list," said Lake Anne principal Michelle Graves. "There has been a great deal of interest."

The school has a new English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher, Victoria Thaler. She will teach the 25 ESOL students who previously attended the ESOL program at Forest Edge Elementary.

This will be the 35th anniversary of Lake Anne, Reston's oldest school. In October or November the school will open a time capsule locked in the school auditorium. The capsule is filled with articles from the school's opening year.

In May, the school will break ground on an eight-room addition featuring classrooms, a teachers lounge, and conference rooms.

Graves expects around 525 students at the school, 24 classroom teachers and 38 total teachers.

Sunrise Valley is undergoing several renovations, including new carpeting, a new air conditioning system and a new phone system. There will be a new phone number at the school, but it has not yet been determined. After the new phone system is installed there should be a recording at the current phone number, 703-715-3425, announcing the new phone number.

There will be an increased number of gifted and talented students at the school, due to the county's new non-verbal testing procedure. This new procedure has qualified many non-native English speakers for gifted and talented classes.

An English for Speakers of Other Languages Center will be discontinued at the school. Most of the students in that center were from the Dogwood district. Now that Dogwood has been rebuilt, those students are returning to their old school.