Chantilly High School recently won its eighth Wachovia Cup in 12 years for academics. The Virginia State High School League (VHSL) determines Cup winners based on their performance in statewide competitions in various categories.
CHANTILLY BEAT out local rival Westfield High School, which came in second place, 222.5 to 180 points. For team activities, which includes creative writing, debate, and forensics, points are awarded to the first through eighth-place schools. For the publications, points are awarded for Trophy Class in the first place and second place schools.
Chantilly won the creative writing championship and earned Trophy Class rankings in newspaper and yearbook. Second place recognition was given to forensics. The debate program and literary magazine accrued additional points.
"This is a direct result of all the hard work that these teachers and advisors put into developing the talent of these students," said Mary Kay Downes, Chantilly yearbook advisor and English department chair.
The Wachovia Cup was created in 1990 to honor Virginia high schools for academic and athletic achievement. Six schools are awarded every year; one for academics and athletics in each of Virginia's three different enrollment groups.
DOWNES POINTS to the strength of Chantilly's English electives as a primary force behind the school's Wachovia Cup win. She has played a large role, both as the advisor to the yearbook and chair of the English department, in Chantilly's past success.
"I am very competitive when it comes to developing programs," she said. " I look for people with a passion for something. The teachers not only have content knowledge but a passion that is transmitted to the students."
Chantilly creative writing teacher Nikki Slagle was instrumental in helping the school win the Creative Writing championship. Slagle compiled six student pieces, including two fiction stories, two non-fiction works, and two poems for submission. The student work was sent for review to a professor at the University of Virginia.
“If you love the subject matter and the kids then enthusiasm comes across,” she said. “I want to build a good environment. I do a weekly folder and I work with these students to revise their work all year. We work together towards a common goal.”
She is happy for her students, but explained that the competition is only one way to showcase their talent.
Another integral part of the Wachovia Cup was debate and forensics. This year six debate and 14 forensics students competed on the state level for Chantilly High School.
ACCORDING TO debate and forensics teacher Michaela Northrop, all students have access to elective classes at Chantilly. She said that the faculty is committed to providing diverse curriculum opportunities for students. This devotion helped the school win the Wachovia Cup. “It’s a year-round commitment, and it takes more than just starting an after-school club here and there,” she said.
Said Downes: "When you consider all the talent in Fairfax County, it is very impressive that we have done so well in the past 12 years."