Around F.C., News

School News & Notes: June 16 – 22

STEM Collaboration Between Mustangs, Tsevie

Roughly a week ago, students at Meridian High School wrapped up a STEM collaboration with students in Tsevie, Togo, Africa. This is the first year that MHS has learned alongside students in Africa on parallel projects. The theme was the global water crisis. Students met once a month (during the period between Nov. — June) and completed four challenges. The students found creative ways to overcome technology and language barriers in order to create a water filtration system. Next year’s theme will revolve around energy.

The STEM collaboration collects laptops and iPads for students in Tsevie, Togo; used or new laptops and iPads greatly help in these efforts. Those wishing to help can drop off their donations in the front office at Meridian (121 Mustang Alley Falls Church, VA) or Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School (7130 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA). Students and teachers both here and at Tsevie High School displayed a strong commitment to international-mindedness as well as learning through the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Dr. Darius Coulibaly, Carey Pollack, Dr. Ray Wu-Rorrer and Richard Dute (Tsevie, Togo) led this international STEM partnership with Meridian.

Meridian Employee on Jewish Heritage Month

Susan Zernik, Meridian High School Reading Specialist and Language and Lit Teacher, was highlighted in one of the staff spotlights for Jewish American Heritage Month, which was commemorated this past May. Zernik, in the FCCPS staff spotlight, said that “Judaism plays an important role for me from both sides of my family. On my paternal side, my grandparents and my father…escaped Nazi Germany on one of the last boats out of Europe.” On her maternal side, at the start of the 20th century, her “great-grandfather and others emigrated from Lithuania and moved to Middletown, Pennsylvania, where they settled and built B’nai Jacob, an Orthodox synagogue which has been in continuous use.”

FCCPS strives to celebrate all cultures and to work towards a more equitable community. Zernik’s experiences and reflections underscore the importance of such work. “Considering this history, it was exceedingly important to my husband, who is not Jewish, and me,” Zernik explained, “to raise our daughters as Jews.”

FCCPS’ online newsletter, “The Morning Announcements,” shares stories like this in commemoration of various heritage months. Visit to read past editions and to subscribe.