Smiles flashed in between bites of dinner at the Sherwood Community Center, where over one hundred students in grades K-12 gathered with their families to receive certificates for A-B report cards Wednesday, June 3. These students were beneficiaries of the FACETS nonprofit’s Education and Community Development program, which offers enrichment programs to students living in four local low-income, subsidized communities.
ECD Team Leader Erin Hansen said the event was to recognize both students who excelled in classes and those who required more concentration to succeed.
“This is not only the culmination of the hard work of students, but also the parents, volunteers, certainly FACETS staff and the community as a whole,” Hansen said. “Just being able to see the development of these kids through their report cards and being able to celebrate that is a great connection for the community to come together and say ‘we did this together.’”
Maura Williams, FACETS deputy executive director, said the nonprofit, founded in 1988, encompasses multiple programs to serve homeless individuals and families or those at risk of homelessness. She said the Academic Achievement Party has taken place for the past four years, and has grown so much since its inception that the nonprofit had to seek out a larger venue for this year.
“We’re working toward breaking a cycle of poverty in Fairfax County,” Williams said. “If we see youth and adults making achievements that will eventually help them and their families get out of poverty, that’s something we really want to honor and make a big deal out of it, so that’s why we hold this event each year.”
Graduating senior Shanquelle Marshall was the first student to speak at the event in lieu of FACETS’ executive director in its history. Marshall, who will be attending Old Dominion University in the fall, encouraged her peers to always try their hardest and to set goals during their academic careers.
“Don’t let one bad grade get you down, because there will always be five more opportunities for good grades to take its place,” Marshall said. “There are many hard days and hard tests in high school, but keep pushing forward until you reach your ultimate goal, whatever that may be.”