2024-07-19 2:29 PM

Letters to the Editor for the week of December 25 – 31, 2008

Mason High Student Hails Custodial ‘Hero’


At the George Mason High School, up on the corner of Haycock and Route 7, there is a man who is much more than a simple janitor. He is a hero.

Who is this man you might ask? It’s non-other than the infamous “LV” of course. Whenever you have lost something, need a door opened, need directions, “LV” is your man. Not only is he the top dog of the custodial group up at GM, he is also one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I know. You might be walking to class and having a terrible day but “LV” will come walking around and ask you “how are you doing, my brother?” just to check up on you and make sure everything is going alright. He along with a limited amount of custodians helps keep the school so clean and tidy. For anyone who has ever experienced “LV’s” love and true compassion can clearly see that he does it from the bottom of his heart; he has never been anything but nice, real, respectful, generous, helpful, sincere, and even funny at times. I can honestly say that when I think about a model for GM students and even the teachers who work there, look at “LV” and his supportive ways. So I ask anyone who crosses path’s with “LV” to thank him. Make him feel appreciated. Because I know for a fact if “LV” wasn’t working at George Mason anymore, it wouldn’t hold the same value as it does to me right now.

And, “LV”, if you read this, I want to thank you for everything you have done for me personally, and for everything you have done and brought to this school, even if people didn’t realize it, or have never shown you gratitude before. Thank you!

Jacob Schwind

GMHS Class of 2009

Hopes F.C. Schools Retain Progressive Values


With the U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek high school rankings recently released, Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School is settling into its role in the school system and the George Mason principal search heating up, talk of the trajectory of Falls Church City Public Schools is in the air. I hope that FCCPS can take this transitional period as an opportunity to reaffirm progressive educational values.

For one, despite the fact that quantitative standardized tests and magazine rankings have dominated national school assessment in recent years, let us declare our understanding that a student’s educational and developmental progress cannot be measured quantitatively. Secondly, let us not allow district curriculum to lengthen to the point that there is no room for teachers to allow for the most effective form of curriculum: student-driven curriculum based on students’ interests and curiosities. Thirdly, let us ensure that all administrators and teachers are committed to: (a) progressive classrooms based in discussion, creativity, respectful dissent and free thought as opposed to drill-and-kill rote memorization, obedience, and teaching-to-the-test; (b) experience-based learning and respect for students as their present selves and not simply as adults-to-be or college applicants-to-be; and (c) the fostering of internally-motivated learning through the cultivation of interests as opposed to the over-utilization of interest-dampening external motivators like grades, rewards and punishments. Finally, let us ignore calls to make schools training grounds for students to eventually “compete in the global economy” and, instead, shift the focus to the teaching of civic skills and community-building so as to protect America’s participatory democracy.

All in all, as FCCPS make key decisions regarding their future in the coming months, it is important that we ensure that school policies and appointments are not based in standardized tests, college applications, future jobs, magazine rankings or even parents’ wants. Rather, to maintain our community tradition of excellence in education, we must ensure that our school’s decisions and values are all based around the welfare of and respect for students.

Peter Davis

GMHS Class of 2008

Mason High Senior Hails XC Coach


I am a George Mason High School Cross Country runner. Coach Bravin toughened me up.

I was a rising junior, spending my summer thousands of miles from Falls Church, when I learned by international snail-mail of the sudden coaching staff change for GMHS Cross Country. Despite great fealty to my previous coach, I was optimistic. For starters, that first mention of the new coach in my mail included a serious training schedule. Our team was about to undergo a major change.

She immediately threw out threw out the old book of training concepts to grow what she knew could become the program that GMHS XC is today. She began, as she continues today, with a core goal of helping her runners do the very best they can. This extends beyond running. For instance, because of their class work, a parade of XC Scholar-Athletes were awarded at this fall’s recent sports banquet. Bravin coaches for every aspect of life. This year’s Washington Post award is not just for a running instructor, but a true Coach. She taught me an incredible amount.

Although I was only running during the nascent period of the Bravin-era at GM, my brother was fortunate enough to run for Coach Bravin during the ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07 and ’08 seasons. His potential and achievements as a runner were greater than mine. It is, however, his fine development as a person over the past four years that cannot be divorced from his training with Coach Bravin. We are better people because of her.

I only speak for myself, but am sure many would join in my congratulating Coach Bravin on this well-earned award.

Thank you, Coach.

Daniel Clark

GMHS Class of 2001

Was Someone Rolling in Catnip OKing Building?


I live on South Oak Street and can’t help but notice the visual abomination that is being erected at the corner of Broad and N. Oak. It should come as no surprise that one cannot find another building like it anywhere else in the country. The City Council’s vision and determination to build a true downtown in Falls Church is to be commended. The Planning Department must have been blind or rolling in catnip when they signed off on that application. The downtown needn’t have to be in the style of a village, but it also need not reflect the funky architectural eyesore of 800 W. Broad. If you want an example of a new downtown, look to Reston or Alexandria near the Metro station. The Flower Building and the NYC subway’s graffiti have a lot in common and nothing that a bucket of paint could not rectify.

Richard Sommerfeld

Falls Church

Sex Represents Responsibility for Children


In reference to your editorial regarding the selection of Rick Warren to participate in President-elect Obama’s inauguration; please consider this view and requirement of marriage.

Sex is a marriage “rights,” that is, responsibility issue, not an equal rights issue; there is no equality in or resulting from the sex act. Participation in and the physical results from the sex act are not equal, but awesomely male and female complementary. Whether your god is God or science (biology in this case), the awesome pleasure of sex has been given unto men and women as “icing on the cake” for accepting the awesome responsibility resulting from sex; the responsibility for another human being’s, a baby’s, prenatal and postnatal care, through her/his complete nurturing from infanthood to adulthood; — that is, the socialization and education of that child to become a responsible and productive member of society.

If one has no intent to take responsibility for his or her participation in the sex act, one should not be having sex. There is no birth control device known to humankind that will give anyone a 100 percent guarantee that a pregnancy and a child will not result from that act, that is, that somehow one can duck his or her sexual responsibility. Thus sex is not only an awesome pleasure, but an awesome responsibility designed to demonstrate one’s highest concept of and ability to love, that is, the ultimate self-sacrifice one must manifest to prepare for and participate in the birthing, nurturing and raising of children.

Lawrence F. Beck

Falls Church





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