School News and Notes

December 6 – 12, 2007

U.S. News Rates TJHS #1

The 2008 U.S. News & World Report America’s Best High Schools Report awarded Thomas Jefferson High School (6560 Braddock Rd., Alexandria) a Gold Metal and rated the school # 1. Langley High School was ranked 37th and Oakton High was ranked 88th. The report analyzed 18,790 public high schools in 40 states. The ratings involved using the schools proficiency standards as measuring benchmarks and analyzing college readiness performance.


Student Participates in Study Abroad

Winthrop M. Rodgers of Falls Church is participating in the Bates College Junior Semester Abroad program. Rodgers, a politics major, is studying in Ireland at the University College Dublin. Students at Bates have the option of taking a semester or full year in a foreign country. Both programs provide them opportunities to study and conduct research at their choice of hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the world. According to Associate Dean of Students Stephen Sawyer, the program director, the experience enhances students' college careers by offering involvement in other cultures and experience with other languages. Some students at Bates enroll independently at the foreign university of their choice, while others choose foreign-study programs through accredited American colleges. Rodgers, a recipient of the 2006 Hoffman Research Support Grant, is the son of Richard and Anne Rodgers. He is a 2005 graduate of St. Anselm's Abbey School in Washington D.C.


Washington Post Music and Dance Scholarship Award

Lee High student Spencer Ramirez is one of 12 seniors in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area to be selected in honor of his achievement in dance. Ramirez attended the Governor’s School for the Arts to study dance after his sophomore year and is studying dance at a dance company in Alexandria. He has performed in several plays at Lee High and is also an artist.


Free Expressions

Kate O’Connor, a student at West Potomac High, has been named winner of the Free Expression 4 Students Contest sponsored by the Journalism Education Association-National Scholastic Press Association, JEA-NSPA. O’Connor, who writes for the Wire, West Potomac’s student newspaper, was cited for her article on the Frederick v. Morse Supreme Court decision.


Winners, Writing-Photography-Design Journalism Contest

FCPS students won individual honors in the Virginia High School League (VHSL) 2007 Writing-Photography-Design Journalism Contest, announced recently. All awards were for Group AAA publications. Winners are: in the Magazine category, An-Phuong Ly of Chantilly High, third place for Magazine Cover, third place for Poetry Spread and honorable mention for Table of Contents. In the Newspaper category, Straight News-News Feature-Sports News category, Pratima Gopalakrishnan and Lauren Ruth of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), first place; Kacper Sovinski of Hayfield Secondary, second place; Viola Li of TJHSST, third place; and George Stone of Hayfield Secondary, honorable mention; in the Human Interest-Personality category, Laura Berk and Alice Chung of TJHSST, first place; Hayley Stewart of Chantilly High, second place; Stephanie Quinn of Hayfield Secondary, third place; in the In-Depth-Informative category, Skye Carter of Hayfield Secondary, first place; Aimee Huynh of Robinson Secondary, third place; in the Editorial category, the staff of the McLean Highlander, McLean High, third place; Becky Schwartzman of Hayfield High, honorable mention; in the Bylined Personal Opinion-Column category, Adam Stern of Hayfield Secondary, first place; Jennifer Gilbert of TJHSST, second place; Sana Idrees of TJHSST, honorable mention; in the Review category, Marguerite Schauer of McLean High, first place; in the Photo: News-Feature category, Dan Gorin of Langley High, first place; Wafic Omran of McLean High, honorable mention; in the Photo: Sports category, Dan Gorin of Langley High, first place; Wafic Omran of McLean High, third place; Andrew Lee of McLean High, honorable mention; in the Front Page Layout category, Alex Ott of Chantilly High, first place; Mike Moynihan of Langley High, second place; Anna Nguyen and Bill Barlow of Robinson Secondary, third place; and Rachel Bensinger, Lizzie Gholinnasghara and Sarah Ross of McLean High, honorable mention; in the Inside Page Layout-Spread category, Paul Casey of Chantilly High, first place; Kristin McGregor of West Springfield High, second place; Carolyn McCallister and Teresa Ventura of TJHHST, third place; in the Advertising category, Erica Wink and Sarah Wink of West Springfield High, first place; Daniel Hochberg of Langley High, second place; in the Newsmagazine Cover category, Robert Espiritu of Hayfield Secondary, first, second, and third place. In the Yearbook category: in the Concept Packaging category, Amanda Schmick of West Potomac High, second place; in the Student Life Spread category, Lexi Vlasho of West Potomac High, third place; Lexi Vlasho and Liz Hanson of West Potomac High, honorable mention; in the Academics Spread category, Kate Sigety and Lauren Crowe of West Potomac High, third place; in the Clubs-Organizations Spread category, Amanda Willis of West Potomac High, first place; in the Sports Spread category, Christian Markson of West Potomac High, second place; in the People Spread category, Devin Matthews and Tess Mackey of West Potomac High, first place.


FCPS Students to Observe Different Shoe Day

Different Shoe Day, a symbolic gesture of accepting and valuing other people and their differences by wearing a different shoe on each foot, will be observed in ten Fairfax County public schools on Friday, December 7, as part of National Inclusive Schools Week, Dec. 3 – 7. This is a grassroots project organized by Fairfax County Public Schools parents. Participating elementary schools include: Clermont, Fairhill, Floris, Forest Edge, Fort Hunt, Franklin Sherman, Laurel Ridge, Oak View, Washington Mill, and West Springfield. National Inclusive Schools Week highlights and celebrates the progress of the nation’s schools that provide a supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population, including students with disabilities and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.


Socks Abroad

More than 1,000 pairs of socks for U.S. servicemen and women, along with personal notes from students at Hunters Woods Elementary, will be packaged for shipping overseas by Troop Treats, a nonpolitical organization that collects gifts for troops serving in distant lands and onboard ships, on Friday, Dec. 7, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the school. Hunters Woods teacher Melissa Gallagher struck up a friendship with Troop Treats founder Germaine Broussard as the two women were waiting in line to check out items at a store. Broussard was purchasing a large number of travel-size lotions and explained to Gallagher that she bakes cookies and sends items to U.S. troops overseas through her nonprofit organization, Troop Treats. Gallagher enlisted her fellow teachers and students in the campaign to send new socks to the troops and to include a personal note from a student with each pair of socks.


Student Rights

A special Student Conference on Student Rights—Recognizing the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be held at the United Nations (UN) and teleconferenced for Frost and Glasgow Middle students at Mantua Elementary on Friday, Dec. 7. Sponsored by the UN and the non-profit group Global Education Motivators, the conference will be held live in New York and transmitted via videoconferencing to select sites around the world. In an attempt to raise awareness about indigenous peoples and their contributions to society globally, the event also highlights the significance of the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Students spent their Thanksgiving break reading about the issues and preparing for the conference. Glasgow Middle offers the International Baccalaureate Middle Years program, which focuses on developing technology skills for the 21st century while promoting intercultural awareness among the people of the Earth.


Outstanding Strings

Tim Gaffga, who teaches instrumental music at Mount Vernon High and Whitman Middle, has been given the Outstanding New String Teacher Award by the Virginia chapter of the American String Teachers Association (VASTA). Gaffga was recognized for his work with the Youth Orchestra of Fairfax and with students in the Mount Vernon High pyramid as well as for initiating an elementary school age orchestra in the south Alexandria area and starting a seventh grade orchestra program for beginning strings students at Whitman. He was also invited to conduct at James Madison University’s annual Spring String Thing 2007 last spring.


William & Mary Leadership Awards

Twenty-four students from Fairfax County Public Schools were nominated for the College of William and Mary Leadership Award, which recognizes students who demonstrate leadership both in the classroom and in their communities. The William and Mary Leadership Award recipients are: Kyung Rim Choi, Annandale High School; Lindsey Czarra, Centreville High School; AnneMarie McGrath, Chantilly High School; Margaret Caldwell, Edison High School; Nina Sabarre, Fairfax High School; Caroline Mills, Falls Church High School; Laura Murray, Hayfield Secondary School; Civanna Hoffman, Herndon High School; Regina Sica, Lake Braddock Secondary School; Owen Masters, Langley High School; Jeanne McAndrews, Madison High School; Stephanie Nguyen, Marshall High School; Melissa Belardi, McLean High School; Leslie Rea, Mount Vernon High School; Sarah Welsh, Oakton High School; Daniella Eguiguren-Menendez, Robinson Secondary School; Trevor Cox, South Lakes High School; Rachel Dady, Stuart High School; Ariel Lepon, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology; Erica Swartz, West Potomac High School; Kelly Snow, West Springfield High School; Stephanie McGuire, Westfield High School; and Rebecca Gildea, Woodson High School. Each spring, every high school in Virginia is invited to nominate one member of the junior class to receive the William and Mary Leadership Award. Every student nominated by his or her high school and receives the William and Mary Leadership Award and is invited to come to campus for one weekend the following fall during the senior year to attend the William and Mary Leadership Conference.