While some students are loathe to see the summer end, there are those — such as six-year-old Great Falls resident Abby Piper — who are counting the days until school begins.
“In three days we are going to Florida, and in 14 days, I am coming here,” she yelled gleefully as she practiced her skateboarding skills in front of Forestville Elementary School last week. “I’m going to be in the first grade.”
Abby said she was especially excited to start at Forestville this year because she will now get to attend school with her best friend, who will be a second grade student this year. She will also be with her older brother Chris Piper, 9, who will begin the third grade at Forestville this year. Chris said he likes the school, but was slightly less enthusiastic than his sister about actually beginning schoolwork, since he had really enjoyed his summer of fun activities in Great Falls National Park and hanging out at the skate park.
“I did Adventure Links and we went caving, whitewater rafting and we went rock climbing on real rocks,” he said.
The two siblings were at Forestville Elementary last week helping their mother JoAnn Piper work on the flowerbeds in front of the school building. Piper said she signed on for the landscaping project with the Zuccari family, and they were all working hard to get the front of the school looking good in time for the start of classes next month. Piper had only good things to say about the school.
“My children have gotten a great education here,” she said. “My oldest has gone on to Cooper and it’s just been a really positive experience for us. It’s a really nice community with huge parent involvement.”
FORESTVILLE PRINCIPAL Matt Harris echoed Piper’s sentiments whole-heartedly.
“The parent support is huge, and it’s a major underpinning of our success here,” said Harris.
Harris said Forestville Elementary School has a few exciting changes coming with the new school year. The school is welcoming a new assistant principal, Kathy Quiqley, who was previously the assistant principal at Waples Mill Elementary School for three years.
“It’s been great so far,” said Quigley. “It’s wonderful to be a part of this community — the parents have been so welcoming.”
Another change at Forestville this year is its school-based Gifted and Talented (GT) Center, which will be open to third and fourth grade GT students. Harris said the final numbers are still not definite, but he estimates that there will be a total of approximately 50 students enrolled in the center, and grades five and six will be added to the center next year.
“Usually schools only start with the third grade, but we wanted to begin with third and fourth for a number of reasons, one of which is that combining at any grade level makes for easier communication and sharing ideas,” said Harris. “The new center was approved thanks to the input of the school community via survey.”
The two GT school-based teachers and GT resource specialist account for three of the six new staff members at Forestville this year. The school also welcomes a new fifth grade teacher and a new second grade teacher.
Quigley said Forestville will also focus on its “School Improvement Plan,” which aims to achieve the goals laid out by the Fairfax County School Board.
“It’s based on the new School Board rules that were set back in the spring, which are academic achievement, essential life skills and responsibility to the community,” said Quigley.
Forestville will also be entering its second year of the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Teacher Leadership Grant, B.L.O.O.M. (Building Learning Through Original and Optimal Means), which focuses on enhancing higher order thinking skills. There are currently seven teachers at Forestville leading the program.