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by RestonNow.com October 5, 2017 at 5:00 pm 4 Comments

The South Lakes High School homecoming parade is scheduled for Friday, and students are taking advantage of the opportunity to support a good cause.

SLHS Leadership has teamed up with the Texas Association of Student Councils to collect funds for Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, where students and their families are still trying to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

The SLHS homecoming parade will begin at 5 p.m. Friday at Hunters Woods Village Center. It will proceed down Colts Neck Road to South Lakes Drive to the high school, where is is expected to arrive between 6 and 6:30 p.m., and it will be followed by the South Lakes Seahawks’ homecoming game against Langley.

According to information provided by the school:

There will be people in the parade walking with a float collecting donations. Additionally, there will be a collection area at the football game. We wanted to do something for a particular place, rather than just collecting for general purposes. Student leaders have been in touch with the student council adviser at [Barbers Hill High School], who will distribute whatever is collected to families who have been most affected by the devastation.

Donations can be made in the form of cash, gift cards, or checks made out to South Lakes HS, with “Barbers Hill HS” written in the subject line. In addition to during the parade and game, donations can be dropped off at the main office of the school (11400 South Lakes Drive). Lyn Fiscus, SLHS Leadership teacher, is in charge of the donations.

The theme of the homecoming parade is “Channel Your Seahawk Spirit.” There will be floats created by each class, high school teams, honor societies, administration, the band, JROTC, the dance team, feeder elementary schools and more. Food trucks will be set up in the school’s stadium-side parking lot after the parade, to allow participants and spectators the opportunity to grab something to eat before the football game.

Image courtesy Lyn Fiscus, SLHS Leadership teacher

by Dave Emke October 2, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Three elementary schools in Herndon are part of a group of schools that have “adopted” a Houston-area school district recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Fairfax County Public Schools’ Region 5 — which includes Coates, Floris and McNair elementary schools in Herndon — is raising money to support Fort Bend Independent School District in Sugar Land, Texas. According to information provided by Coates Elementary:

As you are well aware, our nation has recently been impacted by devastating hurricanes in Texas and Florida. We have seen, and been deeply moved by, the images and footage showing this devastation and the impact it is having on families and children. Many FCPS parents, students, and staff have been asking themselves and each other, “How can I help? What can WE do to ease the suffering?” So we decided to start a fundraiser focused on helping schools and students!

Region 5, part of Fairfax County Public Schools, in Northern Virginia will “adopt” the Fort Bend Independent School District in Houston, Texas. Fort Bend ISD serves approximately 74,500 students from very diverse backgrounds which makes them a great match for us.

We are asking all Region 5 schools, made up of nearly 34,000 students, to team up and raise money to help children, families, and schools in Texas. We are a community of learners, and we are committed to supporting learning and families in our nation’s community.

A GoFundMe page set up for the effort shows a little over $7,000 has been collected as of Monday. The fundraiser has a $100,000 goal, according to the page.

Fort Bend ISD’s website reports that numerous schools in the district suffered flood damage during Harvey, and free meals and other services are being provided for students who are homeless or displaced as a result of the storm.

FCPS public information officer John Torre said while he isn’t aware of any similar projects taking place from other FCPS regions, there are other individual schools that have initiated their own hurricane relief efforts.

by Dave Emke August 28, 2017 at 4:15 pm 2 Comments

A vacant At-Large seat on the Fairfax County School Board will be filled in a special election Tuesday. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The position is nonpartisan; however, two candidates have been supported by political parties:

  • Chris S. GrisafeSupported by the Fairfax County Republican Committee. Has served as an appointed member of the FCPS School Bonds Committee, Superintendent’s Business Advisory Committee and Adult Education Advisory Committee. (Website)
  • Karen A. Keys-GamarraSupported by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. Endorsed by the Fairfax Education Association, the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers and the Washington Post editorial board.   (Website)

The other candidates on the ballot are:

  • Sandra D. Allen, the Minority Achievement Program Representative at James Madison High School (Candidate Statement)
  • Michael H. Owens, a former teacher and PTA member (Facebook page)

For more information about each of the candidates, go to their websites or check out the video from a League of Women Voters candidates’ forum last week in McLean. (Allen did not participate in the forum.)

The special election was necessitated after Jeannette Hough, who was elected to the Board in 2015, stepped down from the position effective June 1. The term will run through the end of December 2019.

Voting will take place in each of the county’s 243 precincts. Officials remind voters that 160 of the precincts are in schools, which will be in session. While they will be open all day, those voters are encouraged to visit the booth before or after school hours.

To find your polling place, visit the Virginia Department of Elections website.

by Dave Emke August 28, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

School’s back in session for Fairfax County students.

Classes began for the 2017-18 year this morning at all schools in the county. For the first time in decades, the first day of school is the week before Labor Day, meaning students and their families need to get familiar with their new routines during the last week of August this year.

Fairfax County officials are reminding residents that more than 1,700 buses travel around the county each school day to transport students. Drivers must stop in both directions when they encounter a bus with flashing red lights, except when they are separated from the bus by a median.

Here are some more safety tips to keep in mind when driving during the school year:

  1. Be alert. Children are unpredictable. Children walking or biking may show up suddenly and quickly; pay attention at all times.
  2. Drivers should not block crosswalks. Allow pedestrians plenty of space to walk safely.
  3. Pay attention to school zones, especially where they start and end. Those slower school zone speed limits are there for a reason. Follow the speed limit when the lights are flashing.
  4. Always stop when directed by a police officer or crossing guard.

To see more photos from and information about the first day of school, check out #FirstDayFairfax on Twitter.

by RestonNow.com August 25, 2017 at 10:15 am 2 Comments

Doug Graney’s 32-year teaching career is the topic of his new memoir, “American Teacher,” now available.

After starting his career teaching in Connecticut and upstate New York, Graney came to Herndon High School as a social studies teacher in 1992.

Graney has been honored with awards including Herndon Optimist Club Teacher of the Year (1997), Virginia Education Association Excellence in Teaching Award (2007), Horace Mann Teacher of the Year/Finalist for National Education Association Excellence in Teaching Award (2008), Dulles Area Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year (2011) and Virginia Veterans of Foreign Wars Teacher of the Year (2014). He became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2003, and his certification was renewed in 2013.

According to publisher Mascot Books:

“American Teacher” details Doug Graney’s journey to becoming a celebrated teacher at Herndon High School. Following a career packed with political and historical field trips, holding government officials accountable including Colin Powell, Sandra Day O’Connor and many members of congress, generating spirited debate, and creating the largest congressional intern placement program in the country, “American Teacher” is the story of a man dedicated to his students and their education, no matter what.

Graney’s book can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

by RestonNow.com August 22, 2017 at 4:00 pm 3 Comments

Herndon High School freshmen who are joining the school’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps learned all about the program last week during a New Cadet Introductory Course camp.

The incoming cadets learned how to march, how to wear and care for their uniforms, and how to handle a rifle among other valuable lessons. In addition, they participated in community service, including a cleanup of Dranesville Road near the school.

Students also learned the importance of physical fitness as a cadet, including through completion of an obstacle course.

Awards were presented to the top-performing cadets for academics, drill and physical fitness during the orientation course.

by Dave Emke August 22, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

Fairfax County teachers, including in Reston and Herndon’s public schools, are in classrooms this week for training, preparation and a little fun before their students return to class Monday.

Take a look at some pictures that have been shared from the schools on social media so far this week as teachers and staff ready themselves for the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Welcome back, Terraset staff! Our friend and former Terraset student, Uche Agu was our special guest speaker this morning. He discussed his experience at TES and what our passion and purpose meant to him! 🙂

Posted by Terraset Elementary School on Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday’s solar eclipse provided a unique bonding opportunity for school staffs.

by Dave Emke August 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm 6 Comments

Construction work to improve the track and other features around the stadium at South Lakes High School is now expected to continue into September, meaning some sports activity will be affected.

“We are moving scrimmages for football,” said Andrew Duggan, the school’s assistant director of student activities. “There may be an impact for a couple of field hockey games and lower-level football.”

The SLHS field hockey teams have home games scheduled for Aug. 30. The varsity football team has a home scrimmage slated for Aug. 18, while the JV and freshman teams have two scrimmages in late August, as well as home games on Sept. 7.

The South Lakes High School varsity football team starts its season with three consecutive road games. It won’t play at home until Friday, Sept. 15, when it hosts Dominion.

Duggan said additional information about the progress of the project will be provided on the South Lakes Athletics website, as well as on its Twitter account.

The work was originally scheduled to be completed before the start of the coming school year. However, Duggan said, the wait will be worth it.

“While the project is behind schedule, we are looking forward to the upgrade our facility is getting,” Duggan said.

by RestonNow.com August 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

An event this weekend will help get kids ready for that dreaded time of year — the end of summer and the return to the classroom.

The “Back 2 School Bash” is an opportunity for families to receive important information to help prepare children of all ages and grades for the coming school year. Students and parents will have the chance to learn about resources, programs and services provided by community agencies and partnerships that will help with the transition.

The free event will feature local schools, government and nonprofit providers of services, resources and activities for Reston community members. It is co-sponsored by Fairfax County Public Schools, Cornerstones, Reston Community Center, YMCA Fairfax County Reston, and Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Service.

The event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive).

Due to construction at the high school that is limiting parking, Fairfax Connector is offering free shuttles to the event. One shuttle will run between Dogwood Elementary and SLHS, and a second will run from Forest Edge Elementary School to Lake Anne Elementary School to SLHS. The first pick from Dogwood and Forest Edge will be at 10:45 a.m.

For more information, contact LaTanja Jones, collaboration and outreach director at Reston Community Center, by calling 703-390-6158 or emailing [email protected]. You can also follow the event’s Facebook page.

by RestonNow.com August 7, 2017 at 11:30 am 2 Comments

It won’t be long before we see school buses on the roads and groups of kids shuffling off to school.

In a change from past years, students will return to schools in August. The Fairfax County Public Schools board decided last year to approve a new calendar that will start classes the week before Labor Day. According to FCPS, that change was made “to provide more instructional time before winter break, enhanced flexibility to help students and school staff members meet college application deadlines, and to end the school year earlier in June.”

The last day of the 2017-18 FCPS school year will be June 15. Graduations will begin June 7.

New teacher training will start one week from today, while full teacher workdays begin the Monday after that. One week later, on Aug. 28, kids will get to work.

Here are some more dates to remember as we head into the new school year.

  • Students will be off Friday, Sept. 22; Monday, Nov. 6; Tuesday, Nov. 7; Friday, Jan. 26; Monday, Jan. 29; Monday, April 2; and Monday, April 16 for staff work, planning and development days
  • Thanksgiving Break is slated for Nov. 23-24
  • Winter Break will run from Dec. 18-Jan. 1
  • Spring Break will be from March 26-March 30
  • Other observed holidays will be Labor Day (Sept. 4), Columbus Day (Oct. 9), Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 15), Presidents Day (Feb. 19) and Memorial Day (May 28)

FCPS has the equivalent of 13 days (78 hours) built into the calendar. A 14th missed day would not need required by state code to be made up; if there is a 15th missed day, April 16 would be considered as a makeup day.

by Brooke Giles July 25, 2017 at 4:15 pm 4 Comments

For the fourth year in a row, South Lakes High School’s STEAM Team Art Club has designed an art display for Lake Thoreau.

The STEAM Team (science, technology, engineering, art and math) was challenged with creating a kinetic work of art that included natural elements and enriched their community. They came up with “Althea,” which they say represents all aspects of human rights.

The sculpture is made up of rings that rotate randomly, like the “constantly evolving nature and complexity of human rights.” There are concentric circles to depict orbital paths of the planets in the solar system. This is supposed to “reinforce how deeply connected humans are to each other.”

Students were involved in every step of the project with the help of art teacher Marco Rando. They presented three concepts to Public Art Reston and considered their input when they choose the design. The students then produced digital and physical three dimensional models, that were also presented to the board for approval. The Reston Association Design Review Board provided feedback on the final design.

The sculpture is made of galvanized metal, plywood, wire rope and spray paint. It is being displayed on the 19-square foot concrete spillway on Lake Thoreau, visible from South Lakes Drive.

The South Lakes students who worked on Althea were Samantha Busch, Carson Bush, Harrison Cahn, Jonathan Doctor, Isabella Emmons, Yanis Gribi, Christian King, Amirah Kirwan, MacKenzie Krider, Catherine Lashley, Darja Loidap, Phoebe Liu, Leah Moyer, Kimi Nacu, Lucy Nguyen, Saeed Louis Razavi, Morgan Ryan, Victoria Slaski, Jeremy Southern and Lily Vogel. Alumni Jefferson Frost, Margaret Lashley and Josh Rodriguez also assisted.

Previous projects have been “Pyramid of Light” (2014), “Nothing Twice” (2015) and “Simon” (2016).

by Brooke Giles July 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm 4 Comments

Opposing swim teams in Reston joined together this weekend to raise supplies for the South Lakes High School food pantry.

At the final dual meet for the Reston Swim Team Association season, the Ridge Heights Sharks asked their opponents, the Glade Dolphins, if they would like to join together to give back to the community. Many of the swimmers and coaches are alumni of SLHS or attend feeder schools.

“They were really eager to support this effort to bring awareness to hunger in our community and supporting a cause really near to their hearts,” said organizer Leslie Sogandares.

Kudos to the Glade Dolphins and Ridge Heights Sharks for conducting a food drive for the SLHS food pantry at their last meet of the season. Well done!

Posted by Reston Swim Team Association on Sunday, July 23, 2017

The pantry, which is open Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. during the summer, provides canned goods and toiletries for the community.  They are accepting donations, which can be dropped off at the school’s main office (11400 South Lakes Drive) from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.

by RestonNow.com July 24, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

Herndon High School’s Summer Grand are recreating Roald Dahl’s classic “Willy Wonka” this weekend at the school.

The show will be presented Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets are $12 for each show. Prior to the Sunday show, there will be a “Chocolate Factory Tour” — for a cost of $3 — that will give children a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes of such a production. One adult per family can accompany their children at no additional charge.

According to the Herndon Drama website:

Join the Summer Grand cast and crew as they present Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, a marvelous musical that will unlock the gates of your imagination — and, perhaps, teach a lesson or two.

Appropriate for all ages, this celebrated classic offers an optional “chocolate factory” tour before Sunday’s performance. Interested families with children ages 3 to 12 should contact Renee Maxwell, [email protected], soonest, as tour space is limited.

The shows will be presented in the auditorium at Herndon High School (700 Bennett St.). For further information, call Rapheal Schklowsky, Herndon High School theater director, at 703-810-2341; or email [email protected].

Photo via Herndon High School Drama Boosters on Facebook

by Katherine Berko July 12, 2017 at 1:15 pm 2 Comments

Melissa Green, a sixth-grade teacher at Dogwood Elementary School, has been selected to participate in a Library of Congress teacher institute this summer.

Green, who was one of over 300 educators to apply for the program, will attend the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute from July 31 to Aug. 4. She was one of about 20 applicants chosen for the session, one of five that will take place over the summer.

According to a Library of Congress press release, participants will “work with Library education specialists and subject-matter experts to learn effective practices for using primary sources in the classroom, while exploring some of the millions of digitized historical artifacts and documents available on the Library’s website.”

Primary sources are firsthand materials from history such as journals, letters and artifacts. This year’s program will look at primary sources from World War I.

“Students working with primary sources become engaged learners while building critical-thinking skills and constructing new knowledge,” according to the press release. “Teachers working in the Library’s collections will explore the largest online collection of historical artifacts with access to millions of unique primary sources for use in instruction.”

In addition to classroom teachers, school library media specialists and school administrators from across the country were also selected to participate.

by Brooke Giles July 10, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

The Virginia Department of Education is considering changing the benchmarks required for graduation and school accreditation.

The board is looking at lowering the verified credit requirement for students to five credits for both standard and advanced diplomas. The credits would come from math, science, reading, writing and social studies courses.

The department has scheduled meetings to get the input of communities around the state. The first meeting was held recently in Fairfax County, the Fairfax Times reported.

Currently, students must earn nine verified credits for an advanced diploma and six credits for a standard diploma. Verified credits are earned in classes that culminate in a Virginia Standards of Learning exam, also referred to as the SOLs.

The state wants to move towards “authentic performance assessments” instead of the traditional standardized exams for social studies and writing. One critique over the past few years, from students, parents and even teachers, is that the exams don’t allow students to demonstrate all of their knowledge.

The move away from standardized testing would also change the way schools are accredited. Schools earn their accreditation based on student performance on the SOL — 75 percent of students must pass the language arts exams and 70 percent have to pass the math, science and history exams for a school to be accredited.

The system described in the proposal would create three classifications for schools. Level I schools would be those “at or above standard,” Level II schools would be those “near standard or improving,” and Level III schools would be those “below standard.” The drop-out rates, chronic absenteeism, College and Career Readiness Index, would be scored.

Schools that are below standard would have the opportunity for accreditation under the new system. Level III schools would get accreditation, but would have to improve their performance within three years before losing accreditation.

The last meeting will be in August. The board is expected to review its plan in November before finalizing it at the end of the year.

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