Parents joined in the fun as White Oaks Elementary in Burke kicked off the new school year in style with a First Day Celebration on Tuesday.
New principal Connie Goodman and assistant principal Eun J. Lee mingled with students and parents in the cafeteria as part of the ceremony, which was also designed to commemorate White Oaks’ receiving the prestigious National PTA School of Excellence award for the year.
"We're celebrating the fact that the parents and the school work so closely together," said Goodman. "We're off to a good start."
After an introductory period for refreshments, Virginia PTA president Ramona Morrow presented White Oaks PTA president Vicki Wuerffel with a plaque honoring White Oaks for receiving the award, the first in its history.
Morrow encouraged the parents in attendance to become involved in the school.
"I've never regretted my participation with my kids in the school," she said.
ANN MONDAY, director of Cluster VI for Fairfax County, was also in attendance, as was coordinator Mary Anne Mayer.
White Oaks volunteer coordinator Margi Flynn said she began the four-week application process for the award in late spring and received word that the school had made the cut in late May. According to Morrow, only 55 schools in the state of Virginia had qualified for the award.
The National PTA board reviewed aspects focusing on White Oaks' parental involvement, which Flynn said was one of the school's strong points. She estimated the school logs over 10,000 volunteer hours per year.
"There's never been a time when a teacher has a need that I can't find someone to fill that need," said Flynn. "There was no question in our mind we could go for it."
It was the first such award for White Oaks, and the first time the school conducted a First Day Celebration, which was modeled after the First Day of School America campaign started in 1997 by the nonprofit First Day Foundation. The celebration is designed to encourage parents to take an active role in the school throughout the year, said Goodman.
"We have a partnership. The children have parents and teachers who work together," she said.