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Loudoun Schools Celebrate Diversity

Schools Deal with Growth

When Dominion High School senior Judy Qui stepped up to the podium to deliver the valedictorian’s address in June, she thanked students for exposing her to different perspectives and new ways of thinking.

"Our interests and accomplishments are as diverse as our backgrounds," she said.

The Loudoun County Public School system is made up of students from around the country and across the globe, from places like China, Japan, Mexico and Pakistan.

Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick said he is committed to hiring the best teachers that represent the student population.

"I want to find the best teachers across the nation and the world," he said. "I want to hire a diverse staff that looks like the kids they teach."

During the 2005-2006 school year, Loudoun County hired 749 new teachers. Educators were recruited from the United States as well as countries like Canada, England, Philippines and Puerto Rico. Loudoun County also welcomed 72 teachers from the Visiting International Faculty program, a teacher exchange program, from countries like Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Japan, South Africa, Spain and Zambia.

LOUDOUN COUNTY is made up of residents of

many different backgrounds and its student population continues to grow.

Last year, the student population grew 10 percent, with 47,000 students enrolled.

School Board member J. Warren Geurin (Sterling) said the school system is expecting approximately 4,000 new students in 2006-2007.

Hatrick said the county will hire 700 to 800 teachers each school year, to keep up with county’s high growth rate.

"A big issue in 2005 was growth and how to deal with it," he said. "It is an issue every year. It impacts our buildings, planning courses and the need to hire new teachers, which is becoming more and more difficult as the market becomes more competitive."

LCPS's schools rank high when compared to other public school systems throughout the nation.

Ninety-three percent of Loudoun’s public schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on Virginia Standard of Learning (SOL) tests. Dominion High School, Harmony Intermediate School, Sterling Middle School and Sugarland Elementary School did not meet AYP standards.

Last year, Heritage, Park View and Potomac Falls high schools and Seneca Ridge Middle School did not meet AYP standards, but were on the list this year.

"We are headed in the right direction," Geurin said. "We are very proud of teachers and administrators in all our schools. Our school system is the top school system in the state of Virginia, but we still have room for improvement."

IN OCTOBER 2005, Loudoun County marked the openings of six new buildings, including the Loudoun County Public School’s Administration Building, Briar Woods and Freedom high schools and Pinebrook, Newton-Lee and Legacy elementary schools.

In December 2005, the School Board approved a $984 Capital Improvements Plan (CIP).

While Loudoun County Public Schools will not open new schools during the 2006-2007 school year due to land issues, it plans to build 12 elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools over the next seven years. The county is renovating its four oldest middle schools, Blue Ridge, Simpson, Seneca Ridge and Sterling middle schools.

In addition to renovations, Sugarland Elementary School’s PTO raised money to build a new playground. Sully Elementary School PTO members continue to raise money toward Sully Elementary School’s Discovery Park, an interactive science playground to break ground in the fall.