ABCs of Going Back to School

ABCs of Going Back to School


First and second graders at Algonkian Elementary will be given 30 minutes of instruction in Spanish every day this year, as the school begins its FLES (foreign language in elementary schools) program.

Also, teachers, administrators and reading specialists will work with students in literary support teams "to make sure the children are on the right track for reading," said Principal Robert Duckworth. They will be able to read in a renovated library, which has been enclosed and carpeted.

The staff of 70, including eight new teachers, at Ashburn Elementary is getting ready for the students to arrive. First and second graders will learn a foreign language, as the school's Spanish program will continue this year.

"We will have a sparkling school this year," said Principal Julie Boyd, noting the renovations made over the summer. The carpets in the classrooms have been replaced with tile and the media center has been re-carpeted.

Nearly 1,500 students will walk the halls of Broad Run High School this fall. "The beginning of the school year is always a positive time," Principal Edward Markley said. New people and new students bring new energy into the school year."

One new thing the staff and students will have to adjust to this year is the change to an eight-period alternating schedule. Along with making the school day a positive experience for every student, the school will focus on SOL (standards of learning) testing and minority achievement.

As "the home of the Lions," Cedar Lane Elementary's pride will be larger than ever, consisting of 950 students this year. The school will be guided along by Principal Nancy McManus and a staff of 90. Two members of that staff, Kirsten Reakes and Donna Wilson, are part of a visiting international faculty program. Reakes, in her second year at Cedar Lane, is from New Zealand and Wilson starts her first year from Australia.

The school will continue its enrichment and gifted programs that include Poetry Masters, Math Continental League, Odyssey of the Mind and differentiated instruction in all classrooms. This year, the school will begin a FLES program in Spanish for first and second graders.

Students at Dominion Trail Elementary will be working with new computers this year, as the school is bringing in new PCs to replace the old Macintosh computers. Teachers and administrators have received training on the new computer system at the school. Principal Sharon Keegan does not expect any problems making the transition, as most of the students and teachers use a PC at home.

The PTA has helped build a new track at Dominion Trial, where 780 students are projected to enroll this year.

Eagle Ridge Middle School enters its second year looking to improve on the success of last year, Principal Charles Haydt said. Last year, the school was one of the first in the area to use block scheduling and team teaching.

Ninety-one full-time teachers prepare for the roughly 1,300 students that are expected at Eagle Ridge. This year, a new track opens up for students to run on.

The theme at Farmwell Station Middle School this year will be "no child left behind." To back up this claim, Principal Virginia Minshew says the school will put extra emphasis on minority achievement and the school's remedial programs.

"We are going to have a wonderful year, I have no doubt in my mind," Dr. Minshew said.

Farmwell Station expects nearly 1,200 students this year, who will be aided by a staff of about 130 certified teachers and other employees.

With the opening of Forest Grove Elementary, the number of students at Guilford Elementary has dropped to 375, which in turn, will reduce the number of students in each classroom. "I think it's going to be exciting and I expect a lot to be accomplished in the classroom," said Principal Deborah Cookus. A second grade class that had 26 students last year will have only about 18 this year.

Guilford is ready for students after a summer of painting and cleaning. This year, the school will begin its FLES program of Spanish for first and second graders.

Hillside Elementary is growing this year with an increase in staff to support the increase in students. Nearly 800 students are already enrolled and will be met by a staff of 75 employees. Despite the growth, no trailers are necessary.

"Our commitment remains the same as always, that is to provide the best learning environment for all of Hillside's children," Principal Mary Green wrote on the school's Web site. "This goal has been achieved by the teamwork between the dedicated staff and our supportive community. A partnership for education is the best for all children."

Horizon Elementary is entering its fourth school year since opening in 1998. This year, Principal William Raye, 34 general education teachers and an extensive support staff will educate about 900 students.

Principal Raye hopes to keep things running smoothly, as the school works to refine various program without making major changes and to continue successful efforts, such as their technology initiative.

Fifteen new certified teachers have been hired this year at Lowes Island Elementary, making the total number of certified teachers in the school 50, along with 20 additional staff members. "There will be a lot of work acclimating the new staff to the culture of the school and the community," said Principal Laurie McDonald.

Lowes Island will work with President Bush's "no child left behind" legislation by continuing its teacher/mentor program from last year. Principal McDonald hopes that every student will be able to form a relationship with one or two adults in the school. The 760 students expected to attend will work with the county's new science textbook.

Principal Dennis Young has one major goal in mind this year for Meadowland Elementary — reading.

"The best way to improve reading is to read," Young said.

Nearly 450 students will be expected to increase the amount of reading they do this year at Meadowland, which houses kindergartners through fifth graders. Vocabulary development will be stressed, as well as SOL testing.

"We have a very stable and growing population," Principal Paul Vickers said of Mill Run Elementary. The school's enrollment looks to grow over 100 students from last year to around 725. As a result, the number of classes in each grade has increased, with the exception of fourth grade which remains stable at four classes.

Mill Run is very proud of its diverse population and significant parent involvement, according to Principal Vickers. This year, the school will have two full-time English as a second language (ESL) classrooms. An emphasis will be placed on writing and character education, as well as careful attention to "at-risk" students.

The student population at Potomac Falls High School will decrease next year when Dominion High School opens. Until then, about 1,680 students are expected to attend.

Potomac Falls has a few new courses offered to students this year. An advanced placement (AP) English class will be offered to 11th graders. A higher-level calculus class will be open and American Sign Language will be taught for its second year.

Last year, Potomac Falls moved to an eight-block alternating schedule. This year, a new all-day self-contained program for special education is starting, though the school will also work with inclusion for its special education and ESL students. New this year will also be the Teacher Cadet program, which is designed to attract talented high school students into the field of education.

The focus at Potowmack Elementary will on reading this year. Students in kindergarten through second grades will be a part of literacy support teams. As part of the program, teachers have received training on various assessment techniques to meet every student's literacy needs.

River Bend Middle School is planning a number of fun activities for its students in its inaugural year. The school is teaming up with the PTA to provide intramural sports. In the spring, students will perform a version of the Broadway musical "The Wiz."

River Bend will also use block scheduling this year.

The philosophy of Sanders Corner Elementary is "the primary purpose of our school is to provide each student with a quality education in a stimulating, relevant, structured and supportive environment," according to its Web site. It is in the first year of a three-year school improvement plan.

Sanders Corner provides enrichment activities outside of the classroom. Nearly every subject is covered from the Dolphin Math League (mathematics) to Academic Challenge (social science) to World of Words (English).

The second year at Seldens Landing Elementary will not bring any drastic changes. The school will continue its guided reading and writing program and will continue to focus on the arts. Principal Susan Browning explained that the idea is to use music to cement what the students learn in the content area. The combination of learning styles then helps the students better retain and apply what they learn in the classroom.

Music will also be involved in the new hand bell choir, named the Chris Newton Memorial Freedom Ringers. Third, fourth and fifth grade students can be a part of the choir.

The average school day will be different for the 865 students at Seneca Ridge Middle School as block scheduling will be implemented this year. Also, the school will use literacy teams to improve reading and language skills.

Sterling Elementary is "buzzing with activity" getting ready for the new school year, Principal Arlene Glaser said. This year, class sizes for the 475 students will be smaller because of the opening of Forest Grove Elementary.

Beginning this year, classes will be structured in a four-block instructional program. The program is designed to be "a better way of addressing and teaching literacy skills to the children," Principal Glaser said.

Sterling Middle School is expected to have over 1,000 students this fall, which will be about 280 students less than last year. This year is different for the school because it is the first time in years that no renovation work has been done over the summer.

While achievement for all students is stressed, the diverse population of Sterling Middle makes minority achievement an added priority this year. The staff of 88 certified teachers will prepare for next year's transition to block scheduling.

Students at Stone Bridge High School can sleep in a little longer this year, since classes will now run from 8:45 a.m. to 3:29 p.m. Classes will be structured differently, as the school implements an eight-period block in which classes will meet every other day for 88 minutes.

The enrollment of about 1,450 will be the smallest for Stone Bridge since it opened. The 113 teachers will help close the achievement gap and take a close look at SOL scores. 'We are trying to find a way to help all of our students be successful," Principal James Person said.

Sugarland Elementary will begin a FLES program in Spanish this year for first and second graders. Sixty-two staff members, including a visiting international faculty member from Colombia, will teach the 530 students expected this year.

The school has two cottages on site for its Head Start program, which this year will include a new program for three year-olds.

Sully Elementary is piloting a full-day kindergarten program for the county this year, as opposed to the usual half-days that most schools use for kindergarten. "We're expecting it to be very successful for the kids academically," said Principal Eric Stewart."

Sully will with George Mason University as a professional development site, where student teachers will work with the school's staff of 50 as part of their training in the education profession.