Stafford High School will delay its opening by two weeks. The school was unable obtain a permit to open its doors for the first time.
More in a press release from Stafford County Public Schools:
As of 4 p.m. today, the general contractor (Hess) has failed to meet requirements for temporary occupancy of part or all of the new Stafford High School and the planned move of the administrative offices have been delayed until early next week. Stafford County’s Code Compliance Office has extended every effort in support of this project and is committed to continue to do so until the contractor meets the requirements for temporary occupancy.
In order to provide a positive educational experience for our students in a finished building, we have determined to delay the start of school for Stafford High School students until Monday, September 14, 2015. Instructional plans are being explored in the event that students must make up the time missed during this first week. These options may include making up the time during the second semester, requesting a waiver from the Commonwealth and/or providing on-line opportunities for classroom instruction.
Teachers and staff will have access to the building as soon as temporary occupancy is achieved. Teachers will work from home during teacher work week (August 31-September 4) until access to the building is possible. If the division staff are able to accelerate the moves to earlier dates, it will be done and information on any changes will be sent out to the community using a variety of media.
The Freshman Orientation and Open House scheduled for Thursday, September 3, will now be held on Thursday, September 10, 2015. The freshman orientation will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Open House will be held on September 10 with Seniors and Juniors arriving from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and with Sophomores and Freshmen arriving from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Freshmen who attend the orientation earlier in the day are not expected to attend the open house that evening as they will have received the information needed. Both of these events on September 10 will be dependent upon access to the spaces within the school.
Further details regarding instruction during the first week of school will be shared next week.
Chris Yung Elementary School will welcome students, parents, and teachers for the first time this year.
A ribbon cutting for the new school will take place Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 6 p.m. at the school located at 12612 Fog Light Way in Bristow.
The school is named after Prince William County Police Officer Chris Yung who was killed in the line of duty on New Year’s Eve 2012. His family will attend the ribbon cutting ceremony, according to Prince William County Public Schools spokesman Phil Kavits.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony is open to the public.
Chris Yung Elementary School is the only new school opening this year in the Prince William school division. The elementary school was formerly known as the “Devlin Road elementary school” while it was under construction.
Community members urged school officials to name the new school after the fallen police officer.
Yung, 35, was responding to a call for help on his police motorcycle when he was hit by a minivan, outside a Target store on Sowder Village Way in Bristow.
Yung was a Marine and was known for his kindness and dedication to the police force and the community. His death brought together community members for a series of vigils, a memorial parade, and a massive funeral in remembrance of the fallen officer.
Classes at the new Stafford High School could be delayed at least a week.
County officials did not issue the school division a temporary occupancy permit. That is keeping teachers and administrators out of the new $66.6 million school slated to open this year.
“The contractor did not complete the work as needed to open the school safely, so the county government did not issue the temporary occupancy permit,” said Stafford County spokeswoman Shannon Howell.
School division officials had hoped to be in the new building in May. As the start of the new school year in Stafford County approaches on September 8, the school’s contractor Hess Construction is being fined $5,000 per day until the work is finished.
“If by Thursday we don’t have an occupancy permit, then we will make a decision and announce the decision to, perhaps, delay school for students a week, perhaps more,” said Stafford public schools spokeswoman Valerie Cottongim.
Weather, and “self-inflicted” delays brought on by changes requested by the county school division and approved by the school board prompted the possible late opening of the new building, added Cottongim. The contractor is working hand-in-hand with the he school system to complete the school as soon as possible, she added.
The new school sits next to the old Stafford Senior High School build in the early 1970s. It opened under the short-lived notion of “open” classrooms, where students could collaborate with each other. Gar-Field and Woodbridge senior high schools in Woodbridge opened about the same time, under the same notion.
“That concept went out very quickly. We’ve made some innovations to the building over the years, but it made for some pretty choppy classrooms,” said Cottongim.
Student athletes are still using the old Stafford Senior High School’s gym, fields, and locker rooms to practice for fall sports. Students won’t be able to return to classes in the old building because much of the furniture, to include auditorium chairs and gym bleachers, were moved to the new school to be reused there.
The new Stafford High School is modeled after Mountain View and Colonial Forge high schools in Stafford County. The new school’s three-stroy academic wing is larger than both predecessors by one floor.
When the new school opens, it will have 21st-century amenities to include a lunch counter that will allow students to plug in their personal computing devices to work on assignments while at lunch. The old school will be demolished to make way for new parking lots and sports fields.
Cottongim posted these tentative dates for teachers, parents, and students leading up to the opening of the new school:
Division staff, with contract support, will continue moving operations of items from the existing school through the week of August 24.
SHS administrative staff equipment and materials are now scheduled to be moved into the new building on Saturday Aug 29, 2015. This is a change from moving them the weekend of August 22. Technical (computers/copiers/phones etc.) set up of the school front office and administration will be done on Sunday Aug 30, 2015.
Teachers will be invited into the new school to start unpacking their boxed materials and setting up classrooms on Monday August 31 (if able, we will attempt to allow teachers into the new school on Sunday August 30). Division staff will have support teams in the areas of the school that have been granted a temporary occupancy starting the weekend of August 29, 2015 to assist administration, teachers and staff in preparing the school and assisting with the move in, unpacking and set up of classrooms and other spaces.
New temporary access roads and new on-site transportation patterns will also go into effect on Saturday August 29, 2015. Although the temporary access road is open and the barricades for walking traffic are in place, the transportation patterns will not change until the move of the administrative offices on August 30th.
The Marching Band now is scheduled to move their equipment and materials into the new space the weekend of Labor Day, September 5 – 7. Fall athletic programs currently operating out of the existing SHS will also be moved the weekend of September 5 – 7, 2015. If staff is able to accelerate the move to an earlier date, it will be done and information on any changes will be sent out to the community via e-mail, Blackboard connect and websites.
The Freshman Orientation scheduled for Friday, August 28th, will now be held on Thursday, September 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Open House will be held on September 3, with Seniors and Juniors arriving from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and with Sophomores and Freshmen arriving from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Both of these events on September 3 will be dependent upon access to the spaces within the school.
Central Office and Stafford High School Staff are working together to develop a contingency instructional plan for a potential delayed opening of Stafford High School (the delay could be up to a week with school opening for students on September 14) if the general contractor fails to meet the requirements for temporary occupancy of all or key areas of the building. Staff will evaluate the general contractor’s status with respect to temporary occupancy at close of business on Thursday August 27, 2015.
Over 3,000 students in Manassas Park had their first day of school today.
Going back much earlier than surrounding localities, the Manassas Park Public School system is implementing a ‘balanced calendar’ with a school year that runs from August 17 to June 20.
“Today was our first day, and we had a great opening – just a very, very smooth opening. And we’re really excited to be back in school,” said Manassas Park Public Schools Superintendent Dr. C. Brude McDade.
A law on the books in Virginia known as the “King’s Dominion Law” does not allow schools without a waiver to go back in session until after Labor Day. Prince William County and Manassas City Public Schools did receive a waiver because of missed days due to inclement weather, and will go back on August 31.
Manassas Park also received a waiver, but it was part of the approval for the school system’s new calendar, stated McDade.
According to McDade, the feedback about starting earlier so far has been positive.
“We sensed from [an open house] last week that students and parents were really excited, and were looking forward to coming back,” McDade said.
In addition to starting earlier, students in Manassas Park will have a week long break at the end of October and March, and the standard 10-days off in December.
Along with these, McDade stated that the schools will offer ‘intersessions’ which twice during the year, which will give students time to catch up if they’re falling behind, or a chance to have internships and field trip experiences. None of these activities will come at an additional cost for the students, according to McDade.
“The agrarian-based school calendar just isn’t cutting it anymore,” said McDade.
Someone broke into a Battlefield High School trailer and took a generator.
According to Prince William police, officers were called to the high school in Haymarket on August 12, for a burglary.
Staff told officers that the incident took place between the afternoon of August 6 and the morning of August 7, stated Prince William police.
Prince William police stated that the individual entered one of the school’s trailers, and a generator was reported missing. There was no sign of forced entry.
There is currently no information available on a suspect, stated Prince William police.
“We have no reason to believe, at this point in time, that the burglary and larceny from the trailer at Battlefield High School is related to the burglary at Beville Middle School,” said Prince William police spokesman Steven Mattos.
An individual attempted to break into Beville Middle School in Dale City.
According to Prince William police, they received a call for an attempted burglary at the school on the afternoon of August 6.
School security staff told Prince William police that the incident took place between 2 p.m. and 12 p.m. on August 5.
Prince William police stated that the individual attempted entry into the middle school through two windows. The screens on the windows had been cut.
The building was not successfully entered, and nothing was reported missing, stated Prince William police.
Ronald Reagan Middle School in Haymarket beat teams from Canada, the United Kingdom, Namibia, South Africa, and the United States to win the 3D Archery Challenge at the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) World Tournament held in Nashville, Tenn. on July 24, 2015
There were 236 schools competing in the NASP archery competition with a total of 2,633 boys and 2,238 girls entered. The tournament consisted of a bullseye target competition at 10 and 15 meters, as well as a NASP-IBO 3D target challenge.
In the 3D challenge, teams of 12 archers shoot at six 3D animal targets from a distance of 10 and 15 meters, as well as from 4 unknown distances.
The team from Ronald Reagan placed first in the Middle School Division in the 3D challenge with a score of 1407.
Along with taking first place in the Middle School Division, one of the team members from Ronald Reagan Middle School, Amanda Kraemer, placed 5th in overall score for Middle School Females in the 3D NASP – IBO Challenge with a total score of 284.
The RRMS Mustangs are a team made up of boys and girls from 6-8th grade in Prince William County Virginia where over 100 children participate in the club. Of these children, the top 24 shoot on the competitive team representing the school and our town of Haymarket, Virginia.
While this is only the 3rd year for the team, this is the 3rd time in three years that they came in 2nd place in the Virginia State Tournament. After the first year together, these young and talented kids showed their dedication practicing in the mornings before school and many evenings after school as well.
Yes, they are on summer break from school, but that does not stop their practice schedule.
These children train nine months out of the year and this is their second time competing in the NASP World Tournament. Earlier this year they placed 13th in the Nation for both 3D and Bull’s-eye in Louisville Kentucky.
This is a great achievement for these kids and for the National Archery in the Schools (NASP) program. There were over 5,000 archers competing this weekend with students from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Namibia and South Africa.
This community news submitted by Nina Kraemer.
Tracy Conroy will participate in the Prince William County School Board Chairman debate scheduled for Oct. 12.
Candidates Tim Singstock and Ryan Sawyers for the Prince William County School Board
Chairman’s race will meet for a debate hosted by Potomac Local on October 12 at 7 p.m.
The candidates are hoping to fill the seat of vacating incumbent Milt Johns, and will debate local issues concerning the schools in Prince William County.
The debate will be held at the Dar Alnoor Islamic Community Center at 5404 Hoadly Road in Woodbridge.
Tracy Conroy, the independent candidate for the race, was invited to participate in the debate. We have not received confirmation as to whether she will participate.
Potomac Local is hosting the event, in partnership with the Prince William County Democratic Committee and the Prince William County Republican Committee.
The candidates were briefed on the format of the debate as follows:
— Candidates will be introduced to the audience
— Short bios for each candidate will be read
— A candidate will be asked a specific question
— The candidate will have three minutes to respond
— An opposing candidate will have three minutes for rebuttal
— A new question is asked of different candidate and process repeats
The event is open to the public.
Campaign literature and signs are only permitted outside of the community center building and must be removed upon event conclusion.
The high school, which was built in 1972, was demolished to make way for a new high school, which will be completed in the 2015 – 2016 school year.
According to a Stafford schools release, furniture and other items that were used in the old high school that cannot be repurposed on the new site, are up for sale.
Up for sale are wooden chairs, a generator and pottery wheels, according to the Public/Surplus website.
Currently there are wooden classroom chairs and a number of other items available. More items will be placed on this site as they become available.
The bid for the chair pictured is currently $25.
Tim Singstock and Ryan Sawyers met for a discussion Tuesday at the Prince William Chamber of Commerce.
Overcrowded classrooms in Prince William
One topic discussed was the overcrowding in the county’s public schools, and how to reduce class sizes.
Singstock, a Republican, said that he would put forth a budget plan and bring in the community for feedback on what they felt needed to be funded or cut.
“The way we’re going to confront the problems we’re facing here in Prince William with respect to overcrowding and competitive compensation for our teachers is by making fiscally responsible decisions. We’ve got to be able to build a consensus. Just one person isn’t going to be able to get anything done,” said Singstock.
Sawyers, a Democrat, agreed that crowding was an issue, and stated that while setting a budget was the easy part for the school board, sticking to the outlined budget was the difficult part.
“I think the community outreach is clear when it comes to things like class size – everyone wants them to come down. We only control one side of the income statement. We can’t raise or lower taxes – we can only spend, and invest the money that is given to us. Our job as a school board is oversight. Quite frankly setting a budget is the easiest thing to do…keeping to and holding to the budget is the most difficult part,” said Sawyers.
The third candidate for the seat, Tracy Conroy, was scheduled to attend, but was ill.
Is the revenue sharing agreement enough to fund the schools?
Currently, the primary funding source is a 57% of Prince William County’s annual budget, set by the county board of supervisors.
Sawyers and Singstock were both in agreement that the school system was underfunded and that the revenue sharing agreement funding needed to be readdressed.
“I think [the revenue sharing agreement] should be turned into a floor and not a ceiling. 57.23 percent should be the jumping off point, if we’re going to keep a semblance of the [agreement] – which we certainly don’t have to,” Sawyers said.
“The revenue sharing agreement is a policy tool – it’s a tool we use in Prince William County to fund our school system. Our school system is underfunded. We know that because we can look at the magnitude of overcrowding we have…we can look at the disparity of pay for our teachers…we need a better tool to fund the school system adequately…,” stated Singstock.
Additionally, Sawyers stated that a big reason for the overcrowding in schools was that too many homes in the county were being built without giving the school system time to catch up, and pointed to the board of county supervisors for approving more housing projects and developments in Prince William.
Superintendent Walts’ performance
Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent Steven Walts has been on the job for 10 years. He reports to the school board, who evaluates his job performance.
Singstock stated that he would give Walts a year before making a decision on his performance.
“My position is that I would work with [Dr. Walts] for a year, and make my own evaluation as to whether or not he needs to be leading Prince William County Schools,” said Singstock.
According to Sawyers, it is the job of the entire school board to handle oversight – including the leadership employed by the Prince William school system – and that firing Walts could be on the table.
“I would want to know that the person looking to oversee [the school system] is doing their job…I would have absolutely no problem firing anybody if it needed to come. I’m not running on a ‘fire Dr. Walts campaign’ but I think at the same time it’s the school board’s job for oversight…and especially when it comes to the top dog that we hire and can fire is a duty I would take very seriously,” said Sawyers.
Election Day in Prince William County is on November 3.
Manassas City school board member Arthur Bushnell was honored for 25 years of service on the board.
The school board voted to nominate Bushnell for the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) Regional School Board Member of the Year Award.
According to a release, Bushnell first joined the Manassas school board in 1990. Bushnell is the longest-serving member of the school board in the history of the city, said a release.
Bushnell was a leader in bringing full-day kindergarten to Manassas, according to a release. His most recent initiative has been the Footsteps2Brilliance program – which is a mobile literacy program, said a release.
More on Bushnell’s accomplishments from a Manassas City Public Schools release:
Additionally, Bushnell approved the building of two new schools and the renovation of several others during his tenure. He led the way in bringing baseball and softball fields to the city’s sole high school and ensured students a strong arts program system-wide by preventing the elimination of programs. He participated in the establishment of the regional Governor’s School @ Innovation Park and has served on its joint board since inception.
As a Board leader, Bushnell served six years as vice chairman and eight years as chairman. He has also served as chairman of the Finance Committee for ten years and changed the financial approach for the school system’s budget to a more business-oriented one. He has also served on the Personnel Committee since 2010. During his tenure, he has presented at Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) conferences, and consistently participated in VSBA development, including the virtual finance series.
“It is not always easy but it is always meaningful because every day this board looks at issues that touch and effect the education of the children of the city. That’s why we do this,” stated Bushnell in a release.
A new workforce development center is set to open in Woodbridge in January.
First, the specifics from Northern Virginia Community College Woodbridge Campus spokeswoman Charlene Wilkins:
On January 2016, the Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training (RCWET) will open on the NOVA Woodbridge Campus offering a convenient, local solution for highly specialized continuing professional education.
The RCWET is a 55,000 square-foot state-of-the-art building that will be the epicenter of high-quality training and education delivery, creating a workforce to meet the technological demands of Northern Virginia businesses, government and military communities.
Training programs provided will include:
· Program Management
These programs will allow area employers and their incumbent workers the ability to expand their professional expertise and stay in step with the ever-changing advancements in today’s business environment. The Regional Center will also include a Certified Testing Center and 7,500 square-foot Conference Center designed to host a range of events from industrial-type training, exhibits and trade shows, to formal gatherings and special events.
The Prince William County Board of Supervisors committed $1 million to the project, and that caught the attention of Virginia lawmakers in Richmond who opted to fund the remainder of the $27 million project.
Woodbridge Campus Provost Dr. Sam Hill said the center’s ability to hold events would make it attractive to several organizations in the region.
“Prince William now has a center to hold events on the eastern side of the county,” said Hill.
Many events for Prince William County are held at the Continental Events Center in Manassas City, and at the Hylton Performing Arts Center just outside the city where Hill made his presentation about the new workforce development center.
At a work session on June 27, the Stafford school board established some of their priorities for the next year.
The school board had an efficiency study for the school system conducted by Evergreen Solutions, LLC, which led to 16 recommendations that the school board reviewed.
Of the 16, two items in particular were selected as top priorities for the coming school year – one related to strategic planning, and another being a communication plan.
More from a Stafford school board release:
The Board would like Superintendent W. Bruce Benson to develop a plan to review and revise the division’s vision, mission, and goals, and identify measurable outcomes and strategies connected to desired outcomes. The Board requested that a Superintendent’s Strategic Planning Committee be developed. The committee representation shall include School Board members, parents, teachers, administrators, and government and community leaders.
The second area identified was communication. It was noted that the division does not have a formal communication plan and division-level communication often appears reactive.
Additionally, during the work session, school board members voiced their concerns about class size. An analysis of class sizes from 2014 to 2015 showed numbers were higher than school board members felt comfortable with, according to a release.
Members of the school board advised the Superintendent to draft staffing and class recommendations for the next year’s 2016-2017 budget to address the issue, said a school release.
Yesterday, Jennie Dean Elementary School finished their school year with a special surprise.
One of the school’s teachers Dianne da Silva, gathered the students in the auditorium for a presentation of the school’s history and to show a piece of artwork she had created and dedicated to the school.
According to da Silva, the oil painting she created – titled Onward and Upward Dolphins – was meant to symbolize the diversity and history of the school.
“There’s a meaning behind the figures of children that I have chosen–to include an African-American child at the forefront representing the rich history of the Manassas Industrial School for Colored youth…there is also a child with Down’s Syndrome to her left in a prominent position to represent the preschool program for special needs children that has been an integral part of Jennie Dean since 1990. The remaining figures represent our diversity, in particular highlighting the presence of our large Hispanic community,” stated da Silva.
In order to complete the painting, da Silva partnered with the Manassas Museum to research the school’s history.
da Silva has donated the painting to the school as a farewall, as she will be leaving with her husband to be in Malaysia.
Parker Haller had a 4 percent chance of walking after an accident three years ago, but he astounded classmates and doctors by walking across the stage to receive his high school diploma. [See more at NBCWashington.com]
We received clarification on the legislative priorities listed on the Prince William school board website from Associate Superintendent Keith Imon:
The School Board has not yet approved the School Division’s Legislative Priorities for next year. Instead, the Board simply agreed to send the items in your article and on the School Board’s June 3 agenda to the VSBA for their consideration to include them in the VSBA’s legislative agenda. This is the time of the year that the VSBA seeks input from all of Virginia’s local school boards. The PWC School Board will begin the work to finalize the School Division’s Legislative Priorities in September and typically adopts them around October. Of course, the items submitted to the VSBA for its consideration will be part of the School Division’s recommendation to the School Board as part of that process, but in all likelihood there will be other recommendations as well.
The PWCS webpage has a link to our Legislative information and the adopted list of the 2015 priorities are there. Once the Board adopts next year’s we will post the 2016 list to that same location.
The Prince William school board has set their legislative priorities for the next year.
The Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) presented their own legislative priorities for 2016 to the Prince William school board at their last meeting, asking for their input.
According to the Prince William school board’s site, school staff from the Superintendent’s office outlined their priorities. Potomac Local has reached out to obtain their drafted copy.
Here’s the list of what the VSBA thinks is important this year:
That the state eliminate the local school division budgetary match currently required to receive Virginia Preschool Initiative (VIP) funding to allow school divisions to expand preschool opportunities without negatively impacting funding for other programs and services.
That the state define comparable verified units for students transferring to Virginia school divisions from other states for graduation purposes.
That the state provide school divisions with flexibility on the requirement for 140 seat-hours to allow for greater opportunities for virtual and dual enrollment courses.
That the state provide local school boards with the option of allowing at-home, digital e-learning (or offline assignments when home technology and/or connections to the Internet is not available) to count for required days/minutes of instruction when students are home doe to unexpected school closures (e.g., inclement weather, natural disaster, facility problems).
That the state allow school divisions to use the WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment) ACCESS (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners) score of 5.0-6.0 on the Tier C test for English Language Learner (ELL) students as an alternative for fulfilling Virginia’s requirement for a verified credit in the English Reading End of Course (EOC) Standards of Learning (SOL) test by substituting the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs assessment.
Looks like Dr. Bruce Benson will continue to be the Stafford superintendent through 2019.
The Stafford school board voted to extend his contact at their meeting on Wednesday night.
Benson began working in the Stafford County School system as superintendent last year, after Dr. Randy Bridges left to spend more time with his family.
There will not be a salary increase, according to a school release.
“I appreciate the Board’s confidence in my ability to continue guiding Stafford County Public Schools. I have enjoyed my first year in Stafford County and welcome the excitement and challenges the next four years will bring. There are few places in Virginia that rival the advantages of Stafford County and I am honored to call Stafford County my home. I look forward to ensuring improved community engagement and transparency for the school division over the next four years,” stated Benson in a release.
In March, OHS was recognized as one of 13 schools across the country to be named a 2015 GRAMMY Signature School. The recognition cites U.S. public high schools that have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to music education during an academic school year and beyond.
On May 13, The Osbourn High School (OHS) Performing Arts Department was presented with the GRAMMY Foundation Signature Enterprise Award and a check for $5,500 presented by Tom Goldfogle, president of the DC Chapter of the Recording Academy for their profound efforts in music education.
The contribution will allow students greater access to music studies by incorporating the latest in music technology into the program at Manassas City Public Schools (MCPS). OHS teachers Austin Isaac (Orchestra), Dustin Faltz (Chorus), Bill Stevens (Band) and Stacey Rubach (Guitar Ensemble) were instrumental in achieving the recognition.
The City of Manassas school board has appointed Kimberly Buckeit as the new principal of Metz Middle School in Manassas.
Buckheit is currently principal at a middle school in Maine – where she has worked since 2004, said a release.
More on Buckheit’s background from Manassas City Public Schools:
Prior to her current position, she served as an elementary school principal for five years. Additionally, she has experience as director of the Gifted and Talented program and an Affirmative Action Officer for the school district. Buckheit also has eight years’ experience as a behavior specialist in Baltimore, MD, and a behavior resource teacher for two years for Baltimore County Public Schools. She also has experience as an adjunct graduate professor at Goucher and New England colleges.
“I am excited to have Mrs. Buckheit join the Manassas City Public Schools family as the new principal at Metz. Her solid leadership background and focus on school improvement and student success will be an asset to our school community,” said Superintendent Catherine Magouyrk in a release.
Buckheit will begin working in her new role in July.
Osbourn High School’s performing arts department was given the Grammy Foundation Signature Enterprise Award for their work with students on music education.
During a ceremony, members of the department received the award, along with a $5,500 check to help fund future music programs, said a Manassas City Public Schools release.
“The contribution will allow students greater access to music studies by incorporating the latest in music technology into the program at Manassas City Public Schools (MCPS),” said a release.
Osbourn was one of the 13 schools across the United States to be given distinction as a 2015 Grammy Signature School back in March, said a release.
What started as a family tragedy and a school project has become a large community focus on the impact of suicide in young adults – and residents coming together for a suicide awareness walk on May 23.
The 6-mile walk – which begins at 9 a.m. that morning – has been organized by students at Forest Park High School.
Hannah Kolkmeyer, the leader of the project, had the idea after a relative committed suicide.
“It all started with a death in my family…back in March my cousin committed suicide, and my family was obviously heartbroken over the situation. So, I came up with the idea to have a walk to raise awareness,” said Kolkmeyer.
According to Kolkmeyer, suicide is the third leading cause of death for individuals from 18 to 24.
“It started off as a project, but now it’s turned into such a huge thing,” said Kolkmeyer.
Shannon Geraghty, a civics teacher at Forest Park High School, said that the project is a way for her students to put their knowledge to work – instead of simply taking a test.
“This project takes the place of a final exam. It is called an alternative assessment. I never have them take an exam; instead they have to put all their civic knowledge to work by making an impact in their community,” said Geraghty.
In order to get residents out to the walk this Saturday, Kolkmeyer and her classmates have been out in the community and speaking to elected officials to gain their support.
“We’ve gone to school board meetings – we’re going to the [Prince William] Board of County Supervisors meeting next week…we’re trying to get as many people as we can to come to this,” said Kolkmeyer.
At the end of the walk, participants will hear from speakers about the dangers of suicide at a post-race rally.