Local Commentary

Editorial: Mason High’s Phenomenal Year

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, George Mason High School of Falls Church has outdone itself with a record six state championships in sports and academics, a dizzying number of awards and accolades for its music and drama programs, and continued academic excellence recognized by its consistently phenomenal showings in the so-called “Challenge Index,” as reported in Newsweek this week. The school is ranked No. 44 in the entire U.S.

Tonight, 161 members of the George Mason High School Class of 2010 will be graduated in commencement ceremonies at the historic Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. They will be sent off to live the rest of their lives with ringing comments from Rep. Jim Moran, the keynote speaker for the event. Moran never fails in the passion he brings to his speeches, being a dedicated advocate for the rights and dignity of all persons, especially those denied the social and economic means to fulfill their potentials as creative and productive members of society.

State championships for the school’s sports teams piled up in amazing fashion since the fall, when the girls’ cross country team won the school’s second such state title, and was followed by the second consecutive title for the girls’ basketball team. Then last weekend, three state titles were achieved by the girls’ and boys’ soccer and boys’ tennis teams. Then there was the fourth state title for the Scholastic Bowl team.

There have also been the accomplishments by the school’s music department, receiving a Blue Ribbon Award from the Virginia Music Educators Association, with the chorus, concert, percussion and symphonic bands all receiving superior ratings. The drama department outdid itself with an amazing production of the difficult Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” earning award nominations from the regional Cappies.

All came on top of the school’s academic achievements, including the strong showing on the “Challenge Index” and the fact that, according the Athletic Director Tom Horn, more than half the athletes on the sports teams maintained a 3.5 grade point average or better during their seasons.

“Still, success has nothing to do with trophies,” Horn said in a statement this week. When it comes to sports, he said, “Next year we want to increase participation numbers, advance our skill sets, improve our off-season training opportunities, and in our in-season strength and conditioning. We will also create opportunities for student-athletes to learn and demonstrate leadership, character and maturity, and develop a comprehensive student-athlete academic advisory program.”

We are confident that similar goals will also continue to define the work of Mary Jo Webster, John Ballou and Pam Spicer in the music and theater arts departments, as well as teachers and staff at all levels.

The phenomenal, day-in-day-out dedication of the outstanding teachers coaches and directors, and their support systems at Mason, and especially of the students, themselves, deserve our most profound congratulations on this graduation day.