The Falls Church News-Press has partnered with George Mason High School’s award-winning newspaper, The Lasso, to bring its readers some of the top articles appearing in the student-run digital paper. This regular feature will appear monthly in the News-Press during the school year. The Lasso can be found online at www.fcpps.org/lasso.
A Lifetime of Tennis
By Andrea Dilao
Born and raised in Plymouth, Michigan, right outside of Ann Arbor, Alexandra Ware grew up with tennis as a major aspect of her life. Almost every step she’s taken to get to Mason has involved the sport in one way or another, and it contributes to her dedication to the girls varsity tennis team.
“I love tennis, and have always enjoyed playing, and it’s great for many reasons,” said Ware, “one of them being it’s a life-long sport. Some sports you can’t play past a certain age, but tennis you can always play.”
Ware’s father is a certified tennis teaching professional, as well as the co-director of tennis at the Huron Valley Tennis Club in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She played there growing up, and she worked there for a period of time as a youth, and later, adult coach.
“I got into tennis because of my dad,” Ware said. “I played competitively for a while, and at one point I was nationally ranked. It was always a choice for me and I was never forced to do it, and my family was really supportive.”
After graduating from Ashland University in Ohio, and playing tennis all four years, she moved to Denver, Colorado, and eventually found herself in the Washington D.C. area, teaching Special Education at Mason.
“I love the sport, I love the game, and I love being able to work with high school girls. My classroom is very different so I don’t necessarily get to know a lot of the students throughout the school. It just worked out when I started teaching and there was an opening for girls tennis coach.”
Mason’s girls varsity tennis team graduated six seniors last year, and made it all the way to states, before getting eliminated in the second round. Besides adjusting to a new team and eleven returners, Ware hopes to be able to use time on the courts more wisely, and involve parents as much as possible.
“I would love to move on as team, and to make it to State finals would be phenomenal,” said Ware. “We have to figure out how to make our top six singles lineup and three doubles teams to get the best team possible. Strategy will also be really important, and just knowing and understanding the entire game of tennis. Basically thinking on your feet throughout a match.”
“We’ll definitely also have to rebuild, but I’m confident in my returning players. The culture of the team will change because of the loss of the seniors, and this season will be tough. But I know we’ll have fun, and with hard-work and dedication, we’ll reach our goals.”
Commercializing GM’s Campus is Absurd
By Frank Williamson
Although there is nothing terribly wrong with redevelopment, every year there seems to be one project after another being reported in the Falls Church News-Press only to never be seen again. This isn’t to say that all projects fold, but there is substantially more “talk” than “walk,” as many projects just lack real substance. Going from a semi-sleepy town to a bustling mini-metropolis like Ballston in Arlington isn’t easy and often these visions just become dreams.
The City of Falls Church needs to realize the irony in letting development get the better of it. In a place where the schools are so fundamental to the City’s value, this makes public education a second priority.
Falls Church needs to first live up to its reputation of having an outstanding school system. This can’t be done by having school property used for anything but the schools. The City needs to reflect this attitude. George Mason’s campus is, simply, no place for commercial redevelopment.
George Mason was built in 1952 with minor patchwork and a major renovation in 1994. However, it is clearly in need of a serious facility upgrade. Falls Church can’t be known for its prestigious public school system while using a run-down building and calling it a high school. Arlington, Loudoun, Fairfax, and even Clarke County have managed to build far superior and more modern facilities for their high schools. It’s now Falls Church’s turn.
There have been two plans for a new high school sent to the City for consideration. However, the problem with both plans is that their focus is commercialization. The Urban Land Institute’s design features a large grid of commercial buildings and then squeezes the new High School all the way behind Mary Ellen Henderson. The main feature of the design wasn’t even for a new school building, but to make the next “Mosaic District.”
Although a design hasn’t been made public, the Edgemoor-Clark group’s unsolicited proposal also shows a similar concept, where in exchange for developing a tract of land for their own use, they will, essentially, build a high school for free (inevitably with strings attached).
Its absurd that a developer taking the land is now a serious consideration. Plans for a new school building can’t be neglected because of private interests. Mason’s current campus in no way should be compromised for multi-use apartment complexes. There is no integrity in giving away the property that your only high school once used. Building a state of the art school campus should be the only goal here.
These articles plus more from The Lasso available at www.fcpps.org/lasso.