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Elementary Schools Preparing for First Day

Students To Return Sept. 2

Across Herndon, students and parents are counting down the days until Sept. 2, when the standard-calendar schools begin classes.

While teachers do not report back to their schools until later this month, plenty is still happening inside the buildings, with principals hiring the last of the needed staff, custodians cleaning the rooms and hallways, maintenance workers doing some sprucing up and parents enrolling students for the fall.

In addition, school supply lists are available on the school system's Web site, www.fcps.edu, click on Schools and Centers, then select the appropriate school.

"WE’RE WELCOMING some new staff members," said Lucinda Romberg, principal of Dranesville Elementary. "Certainly, we're going to be working with every aspect of the No Child Left Behind act and making sure all our children are achieving."

The ethnically diverse school, which has students from many countries especially Central and South America, Middle East, India and Pakistan, uses the different backgrounds of its students as learning lessons.

"It enriches all our lives," Romberg said. "The best way to learn about another country is from the people in our lives."

Dranesville will be holding an open house Aug. 28, beginning at 10:30 a.m., and the PTA is planning a Family Fun Night, but has yet to set the date, Romberg said.

She is also not shy about trying to recruit volunteers.

"I believe a strong school depends on parent opportunity and I have lots of opportunities, large and small, for parents and community members to become involved. Give us a call and we'd love to put your talents to work," Romberg said.

Dranesville, located at 1515 Powells Tavern Place, has an enrollment of 890 students. The hours this year are 9:15 a.m.-3:55 p.m. The main number is 703-326-5200.

FLORIS ELEMENTARY is welcoming some new staff including a special-education teacher and band coordinator, along with its roughly 800 students.

New this year, said principal Karen Siple, will be two teachers "looping" with their students. One teacher is looping from first to second grade and the other from third to fourth. The school also gained a full-time gifted-and-talented (GT) teacher instead of having to share with another school. In addition, a middle-school math program will be offered to selected sixth-graders.

"We will continue to focus on each child," Siple said.

In addition, Floris' renovations will take place throughout the school year, meaning fourth through sixth grades will be in temporary facilities while the lower classes move around the building as construction continues.

"We're really excited about opening our new wing, hopefully this fall," Siple said. "We'll have a library, tech lab, classrooms, new offices and a lobby. They were pouring concrete yesterday," she said Monday.

Siple says the school has a diverse student body, however, it does not offer English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) programs. Instead, the students go to Crossfield Elementary for those services.

The school, located at 2708 Centreville Road, will be holding an open house, from 10-11 a.m., and newcomers reception, at 9:30 a.m. for students whose last name begin with an A-M, Aug. 29. Students in the N-Z range have an open house the same day from 2-3 p.m., with the newcomers' reception beginning at 1:30 p.m. There will also be a Harvest Parade and Fall Ball, both in October. The hours are Mondays, 8:40 a.m.-12:55 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 8:40 a.m.-3:20 p.m. The main number is 703-561-2900.

CAROLYN GANNAWAY, principal of Herndon Elementary, did not have to hire any new staff this summer and expects the school to be at capacity with its 700-student enrollment.

Gannaway said this year, the school is implementing a parent program designed to help parents learn how to teach their children at home. The program will be offered in the evenings in the fall.

"It's for parents of children in kindergarten through second grade. We'll work with them on how to teach their child," Gannaway said. "The more we can inform parents ... the better off we all are. We want to make sure they are as armed as we are."

There are no renovations planned, but the school is taking part in the Energy Savings for Kids program, which outfits schools with minor upgrades aimed at reducing energy consumption and curtailing energy costs.

In the meantime, the principal is looking forward to Sept. 2, "It's going to be an awesome year. We have a great group of parents, students and teachers," Gannaway said. "I'm looking forward to it."

Herndon Elementary, located at 630 Dranesville Road, will be holding an open house Aug. 28, for kindergarten, at 9:30 a.m., and for grades first-sixth, at 3 p.m. The school’s hours are Mondays, 9:15 a.m.-1:25 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 9:15 a.m.-3:50 p.m. The main number is 703-326-3100.

THE STUDENTS at McNair Elementary will not only be greeted by principal Susan Benezra, but also her new assistant principal, Rich Adams.

Also new at the school will be about seven full-day kindergarten classes.

"We're real excited over the prospect of all-day kindergarten. It will better prepare our students for first grade," said Benezra. "It's a wonderful bonus enrichment and more time for ESOL."

The additional classes means the school will have trailers, but only for one year. Next summer, the school is slated to receive a modular addition that will hold several classrooms and a bathroom.

In addition, the school will be offering a problem-solving math lab taught by a GT teacher, which will allow all the students to rotate through the lab every other week. "It's to develop higher-level abstract thinking and problem-solving skills," Benezra said.

The school's partner, Cisco Systems, will be helping to provide a morning girls’ computer club for the fourth and fifth grades. Benezra said other partners are also looking to develop programs with the school, but nothing has been finalized.

Moreover, the learning at McNair does not stop with the students, the school will be offering ESOL classes for parents.

McNair, located at 2499 Thomas Jefferson Drive, will be holding an open house Aug. 28, at 3 p.m. The hours are Mondays, 9:10 a.m.-1:25 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 9:10 a.m.-3:50 p.m. The main number is 703-793-4800.