Principal Don Hutzel and Assistant Principal Sharon Jones of Churchill Road ES in front of a display of hats that reflect the school’s spirit days.
Photo by Lizzy Brown-Kaiser/The Connection
With summer dwindling to an end and back-to-school commercials overriding television screens, the staff and students of McLean elementary schools are preparing for the start of this upcoming school year.
Principal Don Hutzel of Churchill Road Elementary School is looking forward to the school’s open house on Thursday, Aug. 28, where enrolled students and their parents can meet their teachers and see their classrooms. “The school is excited to take on former substitutes as teachers along with brand new teachers from schools like Penn State,” Hutzel said. “We plan on continuing Churchill’s Environmental Education program that relates what students are learning in the classroom to our environment. For example, fourth-graders learning about colonial history will plant herbs from that era.” Along with Churchill’s Environmental Education program, the elementary school plans on continuing its Laptop Checkout program that provides one laptop for every student in the building. While these two programs will continue, Churchill and all other Fairfax County elementary schools face change with the transition of half-day Mondays to full school days. “This shouldn’t be too drastic of a change but it’s definitely a change,” said Hutzel. “We also hope to change the school by integrating more art into day-to-day classroom instruction while still maintaining our focus on reading and math.” Hutzel feels that Churchill Road Elementary School will be fully capable of this as many of the teachers attended trainings over the summer. “Churchill’s staff is extremely excited for this upcoming school year. We’re ready to go!”
ANOTHER MCLEAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, Franklin Sherman, is looking forward to school starting up. “This school year marks Franklin Sherman’s centennial anniversary so the whole year will be centralized around this theme,” Principal Kathy Quigley said. “On Sunday, Oct. 26, we will be hosting our second Monster Mash 5K race in the morning, which will be followed by a homecoming gala in the afternoon…Throughout the year, students will be working on timelines of the past 100 years while the PTA and staff will develop a 100 mile walking program.” While Franklin Sherman is buzzing with excitement over its centennial anniversary, the school also looks forward to welcoming its new Assistant Principal Josh DeSmyter, who is already known for his ability to connect with the school’s teachers, students, and parents after serving as an acting assistant principal this past June. “Josh and I really hope to enhance our ‘Green Team’ recycling program here at the school. The National Wildlife Federation awarded Franklin Sherman the Bronze Award last year for our environmental awareness. I feel that with Franklin Sherman’s large plot of beautiful land, we can really get children to take a break from technology and expand the classroom outdoors,” Quigley said. “The staff here at Franklin Sherman hopes to move students forward not only academically. We’re not just looking at end-of-year benchmark results. We hope to connect with every child and ignite a love of learning within each of them.”
ON FRIDAY, AUG. 29, Chesterbrook Elementary School will welcome its students and their parents for an opportunity to see their classrooms and meet their teachers. The open house will then be followed by an ice cream social provided by the PTA. Principal Bob Fuqua looks forward to seeing all of the new and returning families of Chesterbrook. “I’m excited for this school year. I know my staff and I, like every year, hope to look at and fulfill individual student needs. That’s always our goal,” Fuqua said. However, unlike past years, Chesterbrook and other Fairfax County Elementary Schools will no longer end their school days early on Mondays. “The change from half-day to full-day Mondays is definitely a change but it shouldn’t affect us too much. With a few rearrangements, Chesterbrook’s staff should be able to cover the minimum time the county suggests and then we can grow from there.” This year Chesterbook Elementary School will take on about 680 students. “I have so much appreciation for each staff member, student and their family here at Chesterbrook,” Fuqua said. “Everyone is so supportive so we can really all come together to provide the best academic, social, and emotional environment for everyone.”
HAYCOCK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL has a new assistant principal, Erica Shannon. The school also works on a new exterior. “We’re currently under renovation and have been seeing a lot of progress,” Principal Kelly Sheers said. “The construction should be completed by July 2016. A new cafeteria will be in our current parking lot while the addition will go where our field is.” While Haycock’s exterior will be altered, Sheers is confident that because of the school’s lasting traditions and strong community, the culture of Haycock Elementary will not change. “Every year for the past six years or so, Haycock has gone on a school-wide trip organized by the staff and PTA. Everyone wears a matching Haycock t-shirt and we all gather at some point in the trip to take a picture. It’s a ton of fun for everyone and definitely gives the large school that communal feel,” Sheers said. Haycock plans to uphold its eco-friendly programs as well. “Last year Haycock recycled and upcycled used materials and donated unopened food from the cafeteria. We also began using a trash compactor for our non-recyclables,” Sheers said. “This brought the number of trash bags the school uses per day from 25 to two. We’re really striving to become an eco-school.”