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School News and Notes

 Geography bee contestants at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School prepare to take their turn at the microphone. Seventh grade student Phoebe Galt took home the gold, winning the championship and will advance to the state competition. (Photo: Karen Acar)

Trudy Taylor Retires
Thomas Jefferson Elementary School principal Trudy Taylor has announced her retirement at the end of the school year. Taylor began teaching special education at Thomas Jefferson in 1982 to 2nd – 5th grade students. In 1986 she become the special education coordinator, achieved assistant principal in 2001 and accepted principal in 2003. Taylor’s last day will be June, 20, 2008.

Governor’s Award Winners
Eighteen Fairfax County public schools are among 89 schools statewide that were recognized with the Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence created by the Virginia Board of Education. The FCPS schools that met the criteria for the award include: Carson Middle, Chesterbrook Elementary, Churchill Road Elementary, Colvin Run Elementary, Cooper Middle, Franklin Middle, Great Falls Elementary, Haycock Elementary, Hunt Valley Elementary, Longfellow Middle, Louise Archer Elementary, Madison High, Oak Hill Elementary, Oakton High, Thoreau Middle, West Springfield Elementary, Westfield High and Woodson High. Qualifications for the Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence include meeting all state and federal achievement benchmarks for no less than two consecutive years and meeting Governor Tim Kaine’s goals for achievement in elementary reading; enrolling students in Algebra 1 by eighth grade; enrolling high school students in college-level courses; offering advanced diplomas and career and industry certifications to be earned by high school students and participating in the Virginia Preschool Initiative, if eligible. Schools and school divisions also earned points for performance measures such as the Governor’s Nutrition and Physical Activity scorecard.

FCHS Coffee Blend
Students at Falls Church High School, working with partner Beanetics Coffee Roasters, is creating the school’s own personal blend of coffee. On Friday, Jan. 11, a group of Culinary Arts students from Falls Church High will visit Beanetics in Annandale to create a unique blend of coffee. Once the coffee is created, visual communications students will create a logo for the bag and marketing students will develop a plan to sell the product to business partners, parents, community members and staff members. The school’s SCA will sponsor a competition to name the coffee. Beanetics co-owner David Starr met with Falls Church culinary and photography students and SCA representatives earlier this month to share history about the coffee-growing process and the science of making coffee. He also talked about the challenges of the coffee industry before serving two of the store’s coffee blends to audience members. Beanetics has a micro roaster on site, where the new blend of coffee will be roasted.

PNC Bank’s Alex Mereish (left) is thanked by Falls Church Education Foundation President, Dan Gardner for their donation to the GMHS scholarship fund, benefiting student excellence. (Photo: Karen Acar)Miss Virginia Fights Bullies
Adrianna Sgarlata, Miss Virginia 2006, will speak about bullying to students and parents at Kings Glen Elementary on Thursday, Jan. 17 and on Friday, Jan. 18. Sgarlata, who is an advocate for bullied children, raises awareness of the seriousness of bullying and helps educate people about the effects of bullying. During her presentations she will also discuss the implementation of respectful climates within the home and school environments and how to embrace diversity. Sgarlata will speak to the Kings Park-Kings Glen PTA on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. and will speak to fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students at Kings Glen on Friday, Jan. 18 beginning at 8:45 a.m.

Jazzy Performance
We Haz Jazz, a musical featuring the work of jazz greats such as Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman and Billie Holliday, will be performed at Hayfield Elementary on Friday, Jan. 18 at 9:30 a.m. Fifth grade students will sing and act during the performance, which focuses on jazz as the music of America.

Cirque d’Academie
Cirque d’academie, a dance concert inspired by the atmosphere and artists of the circus, will be presented by students in the dance program at Fairfax Academy on Friday, Jan. 18 and Saturday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fairfax High auditorium. Ballet, jazz, hip hop, and modern dance styles will be performed. Choreography is provided by program instructor Toy Falcone as well as Fairfax Academy alumni Heidi Holland and Julius Elegido. Tickets are available at the door and are discounted for students and people over age 65.

Positive Pajama Day
For exhibiting positive behavior at school, students at Armstrong Elementary have enjoyed a Pajama Day as well as a rock and roll Friday, popcorn parties and extra recess time.
As part of the positive behavior support (PBS) program adopted by the school this year, students earn incentives for quietly walking in the hallways, behaving well in the cafeteria, safe and cooperative behavior on the playground and for acts of kindness. When a goal is met the students are rewarded. Staff members are also recognized for acts of kindness and for going beyond what is expected as part of a low-key kudos program.

To Blog or Not to Blog
Daily blogging is an ongoing project for fifth grade students in Jamie Stratford’s class at Brookfield Elementary to support their reading projects. These students have blogs that they maintain daily about the books they are reading. Other students and teachers can read their comments and make their own comments on the blogs. Students are enjoying the innovative approach and are maintaining their blogs at home as well as at school.

Eco-Kids
Wakefield Forest Elementary has received a Johnnie Forte, Jr., Memorial Grant for their program, Eco-Kids With Character. As part of its character education program, the school will devote the last quarter of the school year to citizenship and raising the environmental awareness of the community.
Activities will include evaluation of school wide recycling efforts, a school wide survey to determine families’ recycling practices and use of environmentally friendly products, publication of a newsletter, creation of a bulletin board and features devoted to the environment on the school’s morning news show.
The full project will be presented at the Earth Day-Arbor Day celebration on Saturday, April 19, at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College.