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What’s New at Seven Locks Elementary

Rebecca Gordon, who is beginning her eighth year as principal, said that students at Seven Locks Elementary are treated to a strong academic program and equally strong support from parents and teachers.

“We have a group of students eager to come to school and eager to learn, and a community and staff that support them,” she said.

This year, there will be additional emphasis on developing writing ability. Students will keep a journal and data notebooks, and teachers will integrate writing assignments into all areas of the curriculum and provide individual goals for improving writing style.

This is the first year that Seven Locks is offering all-day kindergarten. Despite challenges such as curriculum adjustments and longer hours for the 5-year-olds, the principal said that teachers are pleased with the change.

“The kindergarteners are very excited about being here,” said Gordon. “I think it will provide more in-depth experiences. Teachers will have more opportunities to enrich and expand on what they do.”

Gordon is proud of students’ test scores on the Maryland State Assessments — students scored proficient or advanced in five of six areas.

“We celebrate our successes, but we’re always watchful and vigilant,” she said. “We look closely at each individual child to see what we need to do to support them. We make very concentrated efforts to look at individual student progress.”

ALLIE GILES of Bethesda has served as a room parent, committee chair and executive board member for the Seven Locks PTA. She has three elementary-age children.

Giles said that she is most proud of the PTA’s ability last spring to reach a resolution on the location of the renovated Seven Locks school site. After the county and the Board of Education contemplated closing the school, parents and community members organized to help keep it open. Another achievement in the negotiation process was ensuring that the children will be at a nearby holding school when Seven Locks renovation takes place.

“I’d say we were able to work through the process pretty well,” she said. “Obviously everyone’s number one goal was to keep the school open, and the second goal was to make sure our regular activities keep going forward. A lot of parents worked together on educational opportunities for kids even when they might have differing opinions on the renovation, so we weathered the process pretty well.”

Livleen Gill of Bethesda is the interim PTA president of Seven Locks, but there will be a fresh round of PTA elections in October. There was an election in the spring, but at least five of the executive board members have since resigned. Giles said that the parents left for personal reasons and that she does not think it was related to the Seven Locks controversy.

This year, Giles said that the PTA’s main goal is to ensure a fun and educational environment for students. Beginning in October, the parent group is sponsoring a reading incentive program, in which children get public recognition and prizes based on the amount they read.

The PTA at Seven Locks hosts both activities that are educational (such as field trips to the Kennedy Center and Bethesda’s Imagination Stage) and those that are purely fun (such as the Pumpkin Patch and Bingo Night). The parent group also supports teachers through stipends for classroom supplies and a staff appreciation week.

Seven Locks Elementary Calendar:

* Walkathon for the Homeless – Oct. 4

* Open House – Oct. 9

* Pumpkin Patch – Oct. 22, 1-4 p.m.

* Book Fair (at Barnes & Noble) – Nov. 6

* Bingo Night – Jan. 26, 6-9 p.m.

* Science Fair – Feb. 23, 6-8 p.m.

* International Night – April 27, 6-8 p.m.

* Staff Appreciation Week – April 30-May 4

* End-of-Year Picnic – May 30