Heading Back to School

Heading Back to School

Area middle and high schools preparing for the beginning of the school year.

With the beginning of the school year approaching, area administrators, teachers and staff have started getting busier as they prepare for the next few months. While some are old-timers with decades of years at their schools, others like Lanier Middle School principal Rodney Moore are getting acquainted with their new surroundings. Luther Jackson Middle is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

Here's what's going on at area middle and high schools:

Fairfax High School

3500 Old Lee Highway

Fairfax, VA 22030


Principal: Linda Thomson


Web site: www.fcps.edu/FairfaxHS/

Back-to-School Night: Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.

Fairfax High School has several new programs this year, said assistant principal Steve Singman. One is AVID, which focuses on students in the middle, who have grade point averages between 2.0 and 3.5, and who don't have discipline or attendance problems.

Developed by a California teacher 20 years ago, AVID seeks to focus on students, most of whom come from families where they would be the first going to college, by providing them with a rigorous academic program that includes academic and note-taking skills and tutoring sessions.

Fairfax will start the program with its ninth and 10th grade classes, with the eventual goal of having the program at Lanier Middle School. Fairfax is one of six county schools participating in the program.

"You want kids that are hungry and really want to do it," Singman said.

Another new program is an Advanced Placement (AP) boot camp, which took place over the summer. This program focused on first-time AP takers, many of whom come from a minority background. The boot camp started by teaching students test-taking, note-taking, organizational and reading skills. The students were then divided into content specific sessions. Throughout the year, teachers will have one or two AP mentees and will conduct occasional seminars for students and their parents.

"We're really excited by it," Singman said.

In addition to new programs, the high school, along with Lanier Middle, is up for possible renovations in the next several years, pending the passage of a November bond referendum. Phase one, new construction, could begin late winter or early spring, and could take three years to accomplish.

Around the same time, the school will begin preparing for its reaccreditation process. Teams will visit the school in March 2006.

School goals include strengthening relationships with parents, encouraging the use of technology as a communication tool with students and parents, improving student attendance and modifying the FLEX schedule so that teachers of the same subject have common time together.

Robinson Secondary School

5035 Sideburn Road

Fairfax, VA 22032


Principal: Dan Meier


Web site: www.fcps.edu/RobinsonSS/

Back-to-School Night: Grades 7-8, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 6:45 p.m.; Grades 9-10, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 6:45 p.m.; Grades 11-12, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 6:45 p.m.

W.T. Woodson High School

9525 Main St.

Fairfax, VA 22031.


Principal: Robert Elliott.


Web site: www.fcps.edu/woodsonhs/.

Back-to-School Night: Monday, Sept. 27, at 5:30 p.m.

A continuing incorporation of technology in the classroom will be a mainstay of the 2004-05 year at W.T. Woodson High School, according to Principal Robert Elliott. With more teachers than classrooms, the school has taken to using laptops for those teachers who "float" from room to room during the day, to make it easier on the teachers and students to have access to lessons and materials used in class. Enrollment has risen to the 1,900 student range due to a larger incoming freshman class than was originally expected. The goal for the school year is to continue working on the No Child Left Behind criteria and build on the success of last year's achievements.

<bt>Frost Middle School

4101 Pickett Road

Fairfax, VA 22032


Principal: Marti Jackson


Web site: www.fcps.edu/FrostMS/

Back-to-School Night: Thursday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m.

No major changes are expected at Frost this year, writes Marti Jackson, the school principal.

The school is will be adding two trailers, bringing the total to six. "We have slow steady growth," Jackson said. This years enrollment was at 1,110, but will likely go a bit higher.

This year's theme is expected to be a continuation of last years — Stay Connected. It includes continuing the integration of technology and continuing to keep connected with families and the community at large.

Luther Jackson Middle School

3020 Gallows Road

Falls Church, VA 22042


Principal: Carol Robinson


Web site: www.fcps.edu/LutherJacksonMS/

Back-to-School Night: Tuesday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m.

"On Sept. 7, 2004, Luther Jackson opens its doors to students for the 50th time," writes Principal Carol Robinson.

The school opened as the county's high school for black students. In 1966, it first became an integrated school, and switched to a middle school. "The school will be hosting a series of celebrations this year honoring '50 years of Distinction,'" said Robinson.

In the spring, Robinson expects the school to begin construction on an addition to the school. The back corner of the school, near Gold's Gym, will have 10 classrooms, two science labs with storage space and additional lockers.

"We will also have better classroom spaces for teaming between two classes and for instructing smaller classes," said Robinson.

Robinson anticipates the school will have approximately 1,056-1,070 students this year.

This year, the faculty is researching the best ways to challenge and motivate students, said Robinson. "We are looking at what other schools are doing to support students in order to incorporate best practices to Luther Jackson."

Lanier Middle School

3710 Bevan Drive

Fairfax, VA 22030


Principal: Rodney Moore


Web site: www.fcps.edu/LanierMS/

Back-to-School Night: Grade 7, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 7 p.m.; Grade 8, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m.

The physical changes at Lanier Middle School won't begin until April, but some shifts in the way the school operates will begin on the first day.

"Two department chairs, in reading and math, are planning on working on remediation with students who are having trouble," said Rodney Moore, the new principal at Lanier [see sidebar].

The class schedule has been worked so that the chairs will be available to help students who need it, and to be able to offer assistance to teachers who might need some advice. "They will be a resource for teachers as well," Moore said. "This is great."

Pending the approval of a schools bond, Moore said, a renovation of Lanier will begin in April. The classrooms will be reconfigured to better allow for the team-teaching philosophy under which schools currently operate, Moore said.

The project is not due to be completed until 2007, so little disruption is expected this year. "We're going to build a new, mini-school and then we're going to renovate," Moore said. "When complete, there will be a new parking lot, bus loop and kiss and ride."

Some of the existing facilities will be changed in April and the student drop-off will likely have to be changed then. "We're going to have to be creative," Moore said.

When complete, the orientation of the school will change and the front will be on Jermantown Road, which Moore said will minimize traffic through the surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Moore was most recently at Liberty Middle School which just completed a construction project, so he is accustomed to dealing with the challenges of construction going on during the school day. "You have to be cognizant of everything," he said.

As a new principal, Moore is hesitant to make any wholesale changes to Lanier. "If it's not broke, don't fix it," he said. While things are generally good at Lanier, he sees some room for improvement. "I do want us to work more on collaborating with each other," he said. "How can we take a good relationship with parents, teachers and students and make it even better."

Bonnie Brae Elementary

5420 Sideburn Road

Fairfax, VA 22032


Principal: Janet McCurdy


Web site: www.fcps.edu/BonnieBraeES/

Back-to-School Night: Grades 1-3, Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.; Grades K, 4-6, Thursday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m.

Few changes are expected at Bonnie Brae this year writes Assistant Principal Kathy Bruce. She does not anticipate any large differences in school programs or facilities.

Enrollment is just over 800 students. "We are looking at five classes at each grade level 1-6," Bruce said.

"We will continue to be dedicated to providing a high-quality instructional program for all students," Bruce said. She added that the school will continue its differentiate instruction and flexible grouping.

The school will also continue to work with parents and community members to help develop student's maximum potential.

Daniels Run Elementary

3705 Old Lee Highway

Fairfax, VA 22030


Principal: Kathleen Mullenix


Web site: www.fcps.edu/DanielsRunES/

Back-to-School Night: Grades 3-6, Monday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m.; Grades K-2, Monday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m.

"All of the programs at Daniels Run will continue, and they do not expect any new ones to be added," writes Kathleen Mullenix, principal.

The school staff will continue to work to ensure that they are meeting all state and federal requirements as a result of the No Child Left Behind law. "collaboration and meeting student needs effectively are critical to our success," Mullenix said. "As a technology focus school, we have additional staffing support for our science, math and communications labs."

The school hours have changed, school will start at 9 a.m., and it is reverting to its previous bell schedule. Mullenix anticipates that enrollment will be between 775 and 800 students.

"Our focus continues to be on high academic achievement for all students in a safe, caring environment," Mullenix said.

Fairfax Villa Elementary

10900 Santa Clara Drive

Fairfax, VA 22030


Principal: Jeffrey Clark


Web site: www.fcps.edu/FairfaxVillaES/

Back-to-School Night: Thursday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m.

The Fairfax Villa community expects to celebrate its success on state tests with its sixth "Hooray for Diffendoofer Day," writes Principal Jeffrey Clark.

The school has added a third trailer and will be painted in the early fall.

"We will be adding a 'Super Kid' initiative. Sponsored by the family of some of our students, children will be rewarded for volunteer and community service activities," Clark said.

Fairhill Elementary

3001 Chichester Lane

Fairfax, VA 22031


Principal: Patricia Phillips


Web site: www.fcps.edu/FairhillES/

Back-to-School Night: Thursday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m.

PTA meetings take place the first Tuesday of each month

Fairhill Elementary will continue its Family Literacy Program, Emphasis on Reading Strategies, the Fairhill Fanatics Exercise Club, the Chess Club and the Fairhill Recycling Program this year, writes Principal Patricia Phillips.

The school will also add a school-based Gifted and Talented Services across the grade levels. It will also add new achievement programs.

The school will have a new assistant principal, Michelle Redmond. Redmond comes to Fairhill from Providence Elementary.

Phillips expects facilities and enrollment to remain steady.

This year, the school staff plans to continue to work on continuing academic excellence, with a focus on reading strategies and character.

Greenbriar East Elementary

13006 Point Pleasant Drive

Fairfax, VA 22033


Principal: Linda Cohen


Web site: www.fcps.edu/GreenbriarEastES/

Back-to-School Night: Grades K-3, Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m.; Grades 4-6, Thursday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m.

Students at Greenbriar East can look forward to a newly renovated cafeteria when they return to school, said Nan Harris, assistant principal. "It's gorgeous, and it will be ready for the children when they come back," she said.

The school is in the middle of a renovation that will add classrooms and a new library, Harris said.

Enrollment this year is expected to be approximately 750 students.

Laurel Ridge Elementary

10110 Commonwealth Blvd.

Fairfax, VA 22032


Principal: Linda Domina


Web site: www.fcps.edu/LaurelRidgeES/

Back-to-School Night: a.m. kindergarten, Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m.; p.m. kindergarten, Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 7:45 p.m.; grades 1-3, Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.; grades 4-6, Thursday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m.; Laurel Ridge Center, grades K-6, Thursday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.

Laurel Ridge will continue to have its Spanish Immersion program for students in grades 1-6, writes Linda Domina, the school's new principal.

The school will continue its renovations which are expected to be completed in December.

Enrollment is expected to remain consistent with the past few years at 780 students.

Domina is excited to be a part of the Laurel Ridge school community. "I am looking forward to working with the students, parents, and exceptional staff who make Laurel Ridge one of the best elementary schools in the county," Domina said. "We are committed to maintaining the highest educational standards for our students."

Little Run Elementary

4511 Olley Lane

Fairfax, VA 22032


Principal: Janet Johnson


Web site: www.fcps.edu/LittleRunES/

New Student Orientation: Sept. 2, 1-2 p.m.

Open House: Sept. 2, 2-3 p.m.

Back-to-School Night: Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 6:30 p.m.

Little Run hopes to start identifying its students with high potential early, writes Principal Janet Johnson. The "Young Scholars" program seeks to identify these students at an early age, "and to prepare them to engage in advanced learning opportunities."

The school will also start a family literacy program for families whose first language is not English and an after-school geography club.

The school has a fresh coat of paint and new basketball hoops and nets. Enrollment this year is going to be more than 390 students.

This year, the school staff plans to "use technology, including laptops, electronic white boards, computers, DVDs, and cameras to increase students' access to learning and to improve student achievement," Johnson said.

Mantua Elementary

9107 Horner Court

Fairfax, VA 22031


Principal: Jan-Marie Fernandez


Web site: www.fcps.edu/MantuaES/

Back-to-School Night: grades K-3, Thursday, Sept. 22, at 6:30 p.m.; grades 4-6, Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 6:30 p.m.

Mosby Woods Elementary

9819 Five Oaks Road

Fairfax, VA 22031


Principal: Mahri Aste


Web site: www.fcps.edu/MosbyWoodsES/

Back-to-School Night: Grades 3-6, Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m.; Grades K-2, Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.

This year, Mosby Woods will continue its partnership with the Kennedy Center that allows the school to integrate the arts into all of its classes, said Mahri Aste, the school's new principal.

The school's Gifted and Talented program is expanding and this year will include third and fourth grades. Mosby Woods will also continue its all-day kindergarten class.

Next summer, the school will get a 10-room, modular addition, which will replace the school's trailers.

Enrollment is approximately 550 students.

Aste plans to continue the school's traditions. "We celebrate our diversity and we also have very high expectations for all students," she said.

Oak View Elementary

5004 Sideburn Road

Fairfax, VA 22032


Principal: Debra Lane


Web site: www.fcps.edu/OakViewES/

Back-to-School Night: Grades K, 3-4, Gold, Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m.; Grades K, 5-6, Green, Thursday, Sept. 23, at 6:30 p.m.

This year, Oak View will be starting the new Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, said Principal Debra Lane. This program helps give teachers additional tools to assist in dealing with bullies.

The program is a pilot program for the county and some of it can be targeted based on the results of surveys taken last February, Lane said.

The program does not mean that Oak View is experiencing excessive bullying, Lane said, but is being done as research. "It's a passion that I have," she said.

The school will also have a reading specialist this fall to help teachers develop new strategies for teaching reading.

By January, Lane hopes that Oak View will be totally electronic with its take-home folders. "All of our teachers are going to be using Blackboard," she said.

Physically, the school has new tile being laid. A sinkhole which developed in the parking lot as a result of a crushed pipe has been addressed, Lane said.

Also, part of the playground has been restored after vandals burned it last June.

Enrollment is projected to be approximately 733 students.

"We're excited about the new year," Lane said.

Olde Creek Elementary

9524 Old Creek Drive

Fairfax, VA 22032


Principal: Thomas Bentson


Web site: www.fcps.edu/OldeCreekES/

Open House: Thursday: Sept. 2, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Back-to-School Night: Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m.

No major changes are expected this year at Olde Creek in terms of programs, facilities or enrollment, wrote Principal Thomas Benison.

"We will continue our emphasis on reading comprehension, and on pursuit of student research, thinking and communication skills," he said.

Providence Elementary

3616 Jermantown Road

Fairfax, VA 22030


Principal: Joy Hanbury


Web site: www.fcps.edu/ProvidenceES/

Back-to-School Night: Grades 1-6, Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 6:30 p.m.; Kindergarten, Thursday, Sept. 30, at 6:30 p.m.

Providence will be continuing it work to improve its already high achievement. "We're looking at school achievement and working together to heighten that achievement as an entire school," said Peggy Kenney, assistant principal at Providence.

The school will also be working to integrate science, math and technology across academic disciplines.

The schools has expanded the number of classes and will have an enrollment of close to 800, Kenney said.

"Our key goal is to build on the success of last year," Kenney said. The school met its goals as defined under the federal No Child Left Behind Law. "We're going to continue our improvement," Kenney said. "We're looking to provide for growth for all of our students."

Wakefield Forest Elementary

4011 Iva Lane

Fairfax, VA 22032


Principal: Pam McClelland


Web site: www.fcps.edu/WakefieldForestES/

Back-to-School Night: Grades K-6, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m.

One of the new things at Wakefield Forest this year will be the continuation of the use of a courtyard plant habitat which was started in the spring, said Principal Pam McClelland. "We're going to be planning some lessons around it," she said.

Returning students are also likely to notice a new floor as they enter the building. "We had all of our tile replaced this summer," McClelland said.

Additionally, some of the school's parents are finishing some brickwork around the school's flagpole. "The parent involvement here is just phenomenal," McClelland said.

Enrollment this year is expected to be about 440 students.

McClelland just hopes to work to continue the school's high performance. "We want to maintain those wonderful test scores," she said.

Willow Springs Elementary

5400 Willow Springs School Road

Fairfax, VA 22030


Principal: Elizabeth Rhein


Web site: www.fcps.edu/WillowSpringsES/

Back-to-School Night: Grades 3-4, Thursday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m.; Grades 5-6, Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m.; Grades K-2, Thursday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m.

We are excited about expanding our technology support for instruction with the addition of a full-time SBTS position (School Based Technology Specialist) this year, writes principal Elizabeth Rhein. We are also pleased with our new Web site, which will provide up-to-date information to families. It is currently under construction, although several links are already up.

Enrollment is approximately 756 students.