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School News and Notes

 Fox mill elementary second grade students from a Japanese Immersion class, taught by Lear Sensei and Mrs. McCarthy, recite the pledge of allegiance, which was recorded for use on WMZQ-FM radio to be used following the 6:55 a.m. newscast. (Photo: Linda Roberts)

CHS Government Students’ Bill Heads to Virginia Senate

Over 500 senior government students at Centreville High School of Fairfax County experienced the lawmaking process as participants rather than bystanders. Students have written bills related to problems or issues in Virginia as part of their government classes. Students in 18 government classes worked in pairs to create bills on topics such as establishing scholarship programs, ending smoking in public buildings, prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving, requiring mandatory drug testing for steroids in any high school sport in which participants are eligible to compete for a state title, requiring homes and businesses to recycle and requiring citizens over 70 years old to take vision and driving tests each time they renew their driver’s licenses.

'Everything in Essence,' the only play written and produced by George C. Marshall High School students was performed for the first time during the 2008 Liberty District Theatre Festival. The one act play, set in the time of 1915 Paris, won third place in the competition. (Photo: Keith Conway)As a result of the students debating the bills, producing speeches and commercials to support them and campaigning for them, one bill, SJ 119, has been selected to be introduced to the Virginia State Senate by Sen. George Barker of the 39th District. The bill proposes to install reflective strips on all posted signs in busy traffic areas or in areas in which a large number of traffic accidents have occurred. Students will be called to testify on the bill before the committee and will follow the bill as it goes through the legislative process, lobbying senators and General Assembly members to support the bill.

The winning bill was created in response to the steadily increasing number of car crashes in the state and was supported by student research that showed crashes more than doubling in a nine year period. Of those, a large number resulted from drivers running through traffic control, failing to yield and speeding or turning improperly. Students suggest that the Virginia Highway Safety Corridors program, funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation, undertake the project.

 

Diversity through Dance

Students at Gunston Elementary will be putting on their dancing shoes as part of their social studies curriculum. An appreciation of cultures and customs will be performed by the students at the Gunston’s annual Dance Extravaganza on Friday, Feb. 1 beginning at 8:40 a.m. In school dance lessons will be given by teachers as part of a dance unit. Music teachers Randy Benton and Mary Ann Haffly and physical education teachers Brenda Knitter and Patrick Noel collaborated to dedicate a month of instruction to the dance unit, which involved students in grades K-6. Children in each grade level are exposed to international and social experiences that teach teamwork, rhythm, timing and cooperation skills.

 

Students Write “Books of Hope”

Books of Hope, a service learning project for elementary and secondary school students, plans to pair up with Key Middle in early February. Students will write, illustrate and design their own books to be sent to students in Uganda. Books of Hope was founded three years ago to provide help and hope to children who lost their homes in Uganda over the past decade. One of the goals of the project is to help Ugandan children, who are now returning home, to learn to read and write English.

 

Pledge on WMZQ-FM

Tune into WMZQ-FM radio in late January and in early February to hear local youngsters recite the Pledge of Allegiance. First, second, and third grade students from Fox Mill Elementary have been chosen to grace the studios with hands covering their hearts. The student’s recitations were recorded for use on the station following the 6:55 a.m. newscast.

 

Glasgow Becomes Energy Savvy

A new Glasgow Middle School building, constructed with energy efficiency in mind, opened for the second semester of the 2007-08 school year. Designs include solar water heating for domestic hot water through roof-mounted solar panels, recycled steel and building tiles, automatic temperature controls with off-site central monitoring capabilities, low flow plumbing fixtures and more.

The old Glasgow building will be taken apart and some of the building materials will be recycled. Computers, furniture, kitchen equipment, mechanical and electrical equipment, fire alarm devices, security system devices, cable TV and networking equipment will be recovered and reused in other FCPS facilities or stored as spare parts for other older buildings. The lot on which the old school stood and the current parking lot will be converted into athletic fields for school and community use once the old school has been demolished. The new school was completed eight months ahead of schedule.

 

Queen Wants More Than World Peace

Former Miss Virginia Adrienna Sgarlata, who serves as the Virginia director of Bully Police USA, presented a program titled Behaving Respectfully and Valuing Others (BRAVO) at Parklawn Elementary on Wednesday. Sgarlata spoke on the four rules of the Olweus Anti-Bullying program and shared some personal stories and examples with Parklawn students, who heard presentations tailored for their age group.

 

Student Production Wins Third at Festival

George C. Marshall High hosted the 2008 Liberty District one act play competition and won third place. Eight area high schools joined the competition for the “Theater Festival.” GCM performed “Everything in Essence,” written by GCM student authors Natalie Butz and Aeneas Hemphill and was directed by students Anna Dausmen and Bernardo Guzman, for the first time during the night of the festival. All other plays performed in the festival were from professional theater scripts. Notably, two of the four judges put Marshall's “Everything in Essence” at first place. Actual first place was awarded to Stone Bridge, while Madison took second.

 

Higher Horizons Starts New Learning Program

Higher Horizons Daycare Center of Falls Church are using two folk tales, “The Farmer’s Wife” and “The Lion Who Saw Himself in the Water,” that have been popular with little ones for centuries in Afghanistan as part of an innovative new program to teach literacy and thinking skills to disadvantaged children. Established in 1963, Higher Horizons serves 224 children from the lowest-income families of very diverse backgrounds in the Bailey’s Crossroads and Falls Church communities of Fairfax County. Both folk tales, written by the Afghan author Idries Shah, are based on traditional Afghan stories that have been favorites for centuries throughout Central Asia and the Middle East and have been extremely well-received in the U.S. since their publication in 1998 by California based Hoopoe Books.

Twenty-three Higher Horizons teachers and aides will receive professional development training in the effective use of “The Farmer’s Wife” to develop reading and thinking skills, along with a curriculum guide of related activities for classroom use and 194 students will each receive a copy of the book, along with a bilingual audio CD of the story and a “Read Together” newsletter that models supportive parental behavior and family activities. The parents of many of the children attending Higher Horizons are immigrants, about half of them from Spanish-speaking countries. Lack of access to books is widely recognized as the leading cause of childhood illiteracy. Sixty-one percent of low-income families have no books in their homes for children.

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