Letters to the Editor: Disappointed By Cancelling Of GMHS School Exchanges


Letters to the Editor: January 7 – 13, 2016


Disappointed By Cancelling Of GMHS School Exchanges


It was with dismay and disappointment that I recently learned that school exchanges between George Mason High School and its sister schools in France, Chile and China were canceled by administrative decision. This contradicts Falls Church School Board Policy 6.38C, which states “The School Board supports the partnership of the Falls Church City schools with schools overseas. Such partnerships may lead to the opportunity for Falls Church students to travel internationally.” I hope that the School Board and administration will reconsider this decision so that future generations of George Mason students can take advantage of this exceptional chance to experience life in another culture and to share their own.

George Mason’s first school exchange with Lycée Ozenne in Toulouse, France, took place in 1995. French students visited Falls Church in October, staying with a host brother/sister and family. In the spring, when our students traveled to Toulouse, they stayed with the student whom they had hosted. This direct exchange between families became the model for the exchange that was subsequently established with Trewhela’s School in Santiago, Chile for our Spanish students. In 2007 when the Mandarin Chinese program was launched at George Mason, a partnership was begun with high school number three in Nanning, China. It involved not only students, but also a number of administrators and classroom teachers, both from Nanning and Falls Church.

Over 20 successful exchanges have allowed hundreds of George Mason students to apply their language skills by experiencing family life and attending school in another country. When in Falls Church visiting French, Chilean and Chinese students share their culture through class activities and presentations at TJ, Mary Ellen Henderson and GM. In short, these school exchanges have enriched the lives of many Falls Church students and their families for 20 years. It would be a shame if future students in our school system do not have the chance to participate in this invaluable experience.

Linda Johnsen

Via the Internet


If You Suspend Football, Why Not Other Sports?


Regarding your opinions on the football program at George Mason High School, I am a sophomore at Mason. I am also a student athlete. I participate on both the swim team and the track and field team. Last year I played varsity football, however my season was cut short after a broken arm. I decided to not play football this year for a variety of reasons. The key words here being “I decided.” It was not my parents’, coach’s, doctor’s or school’s choice. It was my choice.

Our athletic department is teaching athletes the risk of all sports. There are numerous videos and assemblies that athletes have to watch about concussions and other brain related injuries. The physical trainers at Mason do an outstanding job of not only helping athletes through injury, but teaching athletes the risks of all sports and how to prevent injury. I think it is fair to say that every athlete and parent know the risks of all sports at Mason. If one is informed of every risk and he or she still gives his or her final consent to compete, I do not see a problem.

If football is suspended from the Mason athletic program a new question is formed as to where the line is drawn. If you cancel Mason football, why not cancel girls’ field hockey? Football is not the only sport exposed to concussions, and has pads and helmets to protect, while some other sports do not. It is impossible to draw a line that applies to only one sport without drawing that same line elsewhere.

Yes, football is high risk sport, but so is every activity in some light. According to the Sports Concussion Institute and the CDC, other sports including girls’ soccer and mens’ ice hockey also rank high and close to football on concussion rates. The only way to combat the growing threat of concussion in any sport is to make sure that every player knows all the risks of his or her sport. Our athletic department is doing just that.

Jack West

Falls Church


Encourage, Don’t Discourage Youth Athletics


Despite the myopic focus of your editorial last week, all sports at George Mason High School are impacted by the issue of concussions, not just football. Our athletes in cheerleading, volleyball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse and baseball (among others) have had to deal with the effects of concussions. Will you be urging the School Board to ban all high school sports? All athletic endeavors contain an element of risk. We should be encouraging, not discouraging, athletic participation by our youth, especially given that childhood obesity rates are at historic levels.

Concussion research is ever-evolving. We are extremely fortunate to have professionals at Mason who are working to minimize the risk of concussions (and other injuries) to our athletes. From the administration, to the athletic department, to the athletic trainer, to our coaching staff – the focus on the safety of our young people is paramount. Every athlete at Mason undergoes baseline concussion testing prior to the start of their sport’s season. Every athlete and parent is required to undergo concussion training. The issue is discussed by athletic directors and coaching staff at every season’s initial parent meeting. As research develops on the best practices, our community and school system will respond appropriately.

Is it too much to ask that our local paper be fully supportive of all the sports at George Mason, including football? Regardless of the outcome on the field, our football players work hard every day in the classroom and in the community. By playing football, they learn the value of hard work, teamwork, and sportsmanship (when winning or losing). They excel in mind, body and character.

This newspaper has a long-standing animus against football. We would like to offer an alternate opinion: unqualified support for our football team. Go Mustangs!

Kevin and Becki Creed

Falls Church


By Far, Soccer Produces More Concussions


Your recent editorial regarding concussions and the danger of playing football is myopic at best. I have two sons who have played football for George Mason High School for years and neither suffered any injuries until this past fall, when my younger son broke his hand. However, my daughter plays volleyball for George Mason and suffered a concussion this fall when an errant ball hit her forcefully in the head; she also broke her ankle last year when she landed badly after jumping during a game.

Injuries in my own family aside, the top sport in which concussions are reported – by far – is soccer. Will your next editorial call for our schools to eliminate soccer due to this far more prevalent risk?

Ellen McRae

Falls Church


Have FCNP Editorial Writers Ever Heard of Boxing?


“It’s the accumulation of all the small even undetectable blows that leads to CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy]. There is no other sport where this is likely to occur on every play in every practice and game as in football.” – FCNP, Editorial, December 31, 2015

Have you ever heard of boxing?

J. McMorrow


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