Local Commentary

A Penny For Your Thoughts: The News of Greater Falls Church

When you have a great story, it ought to be publicized. And Falls Church High School (FCHS) has a great story. The first chapters were told at the first annual community outreach breakfast that drew dozens of community and business leaders last Friday morning. Students enrolled in the Culinary Arts Program came to school as early as 5:30 a.m. to prepare the buffet breakfast served to the attendees. Other students in the school’s string orchestra provided a classical music interlude.

Although it is the smallest high school in Fairfax County, students from 83 countries attend FCHS, where 43 major languages are represented. About one-third of the students were born outside the United States, and more than half have a primary language other than English. And it all works. Principal Janice Lloyd and Student Council President Jackie Birnbaum greeted the guests with good news celebrating two years of the diverse school’s achieving Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), a mandate of the No Child Left Behind Act. FCHS’s AVID Program (Advancement Via Individual Determination), which encourages students to take advanced courses and guides them on their path toward college, is so successful that the school is the only one on the East Coast to be nationally certified as a demonstration site. A modified calendar and adjusted schedule, community partnerships, and an award-winning music program provide support for an outstanding curriculum.

How do the students feel about their school? A walk through the halls during a change of classes reveals personable and polite teenagers who are proud to be Jaguars. Senior Claudia Henriquez noted in the breakfast program that “FCHS is a smaller version of the people and ideas and ambitions that scale the globe. We are, in a sense, the world condensed into a population of 1300 students and teachers dedicated to every individual’s success.” A returning graduate told me that the excellent and well-rounded education he received at FCHS prepared him well for his freshman year in college. As a result of participating in the Medical Sciences Academy at FCHS, he is planning to become a dentist. Go Jaguars!

When I was growing up (before Title IX) and it came to team sports, girls were pretty much restricted to volleyball and softball. Women’s sports have come a long way since then, and more opportunities abound for girls to start their athletic pursuits at an early age. One such opportunity is a new Falls Church Girls Youth Fast Pitch Select Travel Team that is being formed. The organization initially will create a 12U (12 and under) team to practice and compete in the fall and spring. Tryouts are scheduled for the 14th, 21st, and 28th of September.  Coaches, players, volunteers, and sponsors are encouraged to contact Scott_W_Keith@yahoo.com or call 703/933-2389 for further details. The team Web site is http://eteamz.active.com/PerfectStorm/.