An annual and essential element of the City of Falls Church’s Memorial Day Parade & Festival is the heralding of Mr. & Mrs. Mason, two George Mason High School seniors who won the right to be parade participants earlier in the school year.
This years honorees, Sigrid Edson and Miles Jackson, still can’t get enough of their high school experience and are eager to continue their learning once they hop off the convertible Monday afternoon.
Chosen by teachers and students in a pageant of questions, talents and biographies back in March, Edson and Jackson sat down last weekend with the News-Press to talk about the parade and high school.
Edson has been a parade participant a bunch over the years with her school’s safety patrol, but Jackson wasn’t real sure if it’s been the Falls Church parade or somewhere else that he’s marched with the Boy Scouts and Earth Watch.
Beyond parade life, the best high school experiences of these two lifelong Falls Church residents have revolved around the people they’ve grown up with well and especially some memorable teachers, Edson mentioned.
“Everyone is very respectful to the teachers who have a nice relationship with you and you want to learn from them and they want to teach you,” Jackson said.
Edson exclaimed how fantastic the IB HL biology class taught by Martina Goss was for her.
“I like science but I’m not a super sciency person, and I still loved it. You just feel so smart,” Edson said.
Both seniors raved about “History of the Americas” taught by Tammy Chincheck, “one of the famous classes at Mason, everyone learns so much,” Edson said.
“It’s definitely a difficult course, but you come away with so much of an understanding,” Jackson chimed in, with Edson adding how relevant its teachings are still today before Jackson continued.
“The class is not just dates but historiography, but events which affect other events and how we can analyze them and apply them to the future.”
He also praised his physics teacher, Bryan Harris, for helping him think about how the world operates. Both hailed Albert DeFazio, their Theory of Knowledge teacher, for teaching them how to think critically about concepts.
For all the love they share for their teachers, sometimes they just wanted to be removed from the daily fray of academic obstacles.
“The worst thing for me was not having enough free time,” Edson said. “I was taking interesting classes and was learning a lot. I was doing things I loved. But sometimes I want to stay at home because there’s so much work. Though honestly, everything has its good side, and it hasn’t been a bad experience.”
The two still managed to make time for volunteer work, either tutoring Mason students in math or participating as Mustang Ambassadors to help newcomers acclimate to the school environment.
They also applied their musical talents (Edson plays the trumpet, and Jackson, the trombone) to the jazz band, performing at senior centers and elementary schools, and helping raise money for hurricane victims and gun control advocates.
Mason is a rose, but one that’s been wilting for a while. Jackson noted the school’s crumbling state and age, and both noted that every classroom has a characteristic leak somewhere.
What was even more difficult than dodging rogue droplets in the hallway was hearing about how amazing the new high school will be in the future…and how they won’t get to enjoy it.
Edson will be sad at graduation and Jackson doubly so. She is off to Johns Hopkins University, and he’ll be at the University of Virginia.
“I’ve been doing college applications for months now,” Jackson paused before reevaluating his timeline — one that started when he was a sophomore. “Years! I’ve been doing them for years! It’s just been so long.”
Edson works at Clay Café where she’ll be this summer saving money for college, and Jackson is going to use his serving skills to find a summer job, in-between his trip to Australia as one of 200 high schoolers from around the world chosen to sing in the Honors Performance Series at the Sydney Opera House.
If they had it to do all over again, Edson would “tell myself to get involved in the arts sooner” which for her means prior to her junior year when she began theater and choir.
“I’ve made some of my best friends there, and they make me happy.” She advises incoming freshmen to “try things and really pursue them if you love them. Don’t spend time on stuff which is not important to you.”
Jackson would become more serious earlier, “not just about academics, but about life, too. I think I was just wandering aimlessly through life until the end of my sophomore year, and I am still figuring out who I am.”
Edson admonished her classmate: “You’re a kid! We’re still kids.”
But even some adult “kids” are still trying to figure that one out for themselves.