Back to school early in Alexandria

Photo by Janet Barnett/Gazette Packet

Recent ACHS graduates Isaac Wessen, Adam Gebru, Zacharia Hassen and Josua Tsfamariam wind down their summer days Aug. 9 before starting their first year of college.

Fifth graders Sydney Keene-Osborne and Annabell Broderick-Warren enjoy some summer fun Aug. 7.

Michael Jones-Lee, 10, 5th grade Douglas MacAurthur – “I don’t wanna go back. I’m not looking forward to anything other than seeing my classmates.”

Blaze Ritt, 9, James K. Polk – “I’m happy but also kinda scared. I don’t know if I’m gonna fail or not.”

Tomisha Dudley, 10, 6th grade Patrick Henry – “I’m horrified. I’m scared that I’m not gonna make new friends.”

Alexandria public school students are winding down their summer break with most lamenting the early start to the new school year.

“This feels weird. We always go back in September,” said Sydney Keene-Osborne, a fifth grader at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School. “I like summer and it will still be warm out.”

Concurred Annabelle Broderick-Warren, who is entering fifth grade at James K. Polk, “It’s too early to be going back to school. It will be too hot for our recesses and breaks outside.”

Open houses for families have already begun at ACPS schools across the city as students and parents prepare to send students back to school two weeks before the Labor Day holiday.

“Growing up in the public school system we never started before Labor Day and never wanted to,” said School Board member Jacinta Greene. “I’m a strong believer in making sure that families are able to spend time together, to be able to have as much vacation time as possible and regroup before a new school year begins.”

A 1980s Virginia law referred to as the “King’s Dominion” rule required school systems to start classes after Labor Day but most have now transitioned to the earlier start to the school year. ACPS started classes Aug. 22 in 2022.

“I see both sides where starting before Labor Day you get that instruction time earlier and hopefully on the back end will get out earlier,” Greene said. “But if I had my choice I would start after Labor Day, particularly because we are not getting out that much earlier at the back end.”

A group of recent Alexandria City High School graduates gathered to enjoy the last remaining days of summer before beginning their college careers.

“I am looking forward to starting college at George Mason,” said Isaac Wessen. “I am excited to meet new people and join new clubs.”

Adam Gebru will be attending Northern Virginia Community College.

“I am looking forward to learning more and just being a better person in general,” Gebru said.

Zacharia Hassen will also be attending NVCC.

“I have great memories of my high school football games but I am excited to meet new people and learning more,” Hassen said.

Joshua Tsfamariam is looking forward to being a Hokie at Virginia Tech.

“It will be fun going to new classes and getting to know new classmates,” Tsfamariam said. “I experienced so many things that I would not have experienced if I wasn’t here so I appreciate my time at ACHS.”

Nancy Broderick had special end-of-summer plans for her granddaughter Annabelle.

“I wanted to plan an end-of-summer extravaganza so we are going to a Pink concert tonight,” Broderick said. “I know it seems like school is starting early but it has been a good summer and I think she is anxious to see her friends again.”