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Middle Schools Prepare

As summer slips away, schools clean up.

Labeled as a "School to Watch," Rachel Carson Middle School ended the school year on a high note in June.

A few months later, principal Augie Frattali, hopes the school will pick up where it left off.

"Certainly we are going to focus on our vision and our core beliefs this year," said Frattali. "They will be directed to all students ... we have high standards set for ourselves and the county's high [education] expectations to meet."

Frattali said because the school had a low turnover of teachers only seven or eight will be added this year, but there will be some new programs offered for the projected 1,080 students as well as some reinstated programs added to the curriculum.

"We have reintroduced the intramural program," said Frattali. "We reinstated the budget for after-school activities that a lot of students enjoy."

Frattali said the school also has brought back its late bus, which will run after school Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for students who participate in after-school activities.

Academically, the school is offering, for the first year, two Latin language classes. Frattali said the school had some requests for the increasingly popular language classes, which filled almost immediately.

He said the class will help students get "a better handle on vocabulary, and it is good for learning other languages."

Frattali admitted he may even sit in on a few classes.

Carson's new teaching staff will report to school Friday with the rest of the veteran staff members starting Monday, Aug. 30, before the seventh-grade orientation Sept. 3.

"We want to focus on all students achieving at our school," said Frattali. "Teachers from the same department, in the same grade level, will meet once a week to improve instruction and to work to make everyone achieve in a professional teaching environment."

The first day of school is Sept. 7 and incoming students can expect a special schedule that will allow them to meet their teachers, familiarize themselves with schedules, and then participate in team-building activities with classmates and teachers.

"In this mobile team training," said Frattali, explaining 16 teachers have been in training over the summer to conduct the first-day activities, "it helps students build a bond as a group from the start and get to know their teachers."

AT HERNDON MIDDLE SCHOOL, uniting as a whole is also a theme, although on a different level.

"We're working diligently at implementing a one-school model," said Frank Jenkins, Herndon Middle School principal. "The Herndon Center will function as a part of Herndon Middle School, [allowing] more opportunity for collaboration."

Jenkins said in order to do this they brought in assistant principal Steve Wilcox to work as the administrator for the Center, helping to unite the two populations.

"The goal is better services for the kids, that's the bottom line," said Jenkins. "More inclusiveness for the students, that's important."

Jenkins said the school is also receiving new technology this year with two new wireless labs. The two labs will allow the school to utilize more technology in the classroom and allow teachers and students to use it directly with the lesson plan.

"We're in our second year of the adoption of P.A.R.," said Jenkins, explaining it is a program that teaches students to act responsibly against inappropriate behavior through positive reinforcement.

Jenkins said another focus this year will be teachers working together during their off periods to make sure student needs are being addressed in a professional teaching manner.

"Teachers are free to plan and make lessons to meet the needs of all the kids," said Jenkins.

This year the school is roughly expecting 1,228 students and Jenkins said, because many of his teachers and staff relocated after last school year, he is expecting around 25 new staff members including new seventh-grade assistant principal Prosperanta Calhoun.

"We're very excited," Jenkins said about the start of school. "We have a lot of challenges in this upcoming year and we look forward to meeting and addressing them."