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Schools

Swim Facility, Playing Fields Proposed for NOVA Woodbridge Campus

Northern Virginia Community College's Woodbridge Campus [Photo: NOVA]

First on Potomac Local News

By URIAH KISER

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – The Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College, already expanding with the addition of a new building, wants to grow even larger.

The college, commonly referred to as NOVA, is exploring the possibility of adding a community recreational facility complete with swimming pools, a fitness center, and outdoor playing fields at its campus off Neabsco Mills Road in Woodbridge. Campus Provost Dr. Sam Hill recently met with Prince William Neabsco District Supervisor John Jenkins and County Executive Melissa Peacor to discuss the proposed addition, according to county officials.

Hill did not return a request for comment Thursday.

Before construction on such a facility could begin in Woodbridge, a feasibility study must be completed. That is expected to cost $400,000, sources said.

Currently, no money has been budgeted by Prince William County for the study, and a presentation about the proposed fitness facility has not yet been made to the full Prince William County Board of Supervisors, said spokesman Jason Grant.

More than just Prince William County, the college is expected to also seek project funds from the state and private donors. The center could be marketed as a potential revenue generator, as a place for private sports leagues to come practice and play.

Surveyed in 2008, students at NOVA’s Woodbridge said they enjoyed being close to Potomac Mills mall, spoke highly of the campus’ lake and surrounding green space. But students also said the campus lacked an activities center that included a basketball court, gym, lounge and food court – amenities found on many four-year institutions.

The newly proposed fitness facility would be similar to the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center on the George Mason University Campus in Manassas. The 110,000 square-foot facility opened in 1999 as a partnership between the university, Manassas and Prince William County, and offers two pools, a full gym, cardio and strength training exercises, as well as programs for youth and adults. Memberships to the facility range between $25 and $48 per month.

NOVA celebrated in 2011 when it broke ground for Phase III of the Woodbridge campus – a long awaited addition to the campus 25 years in the making. The new 84,000 square foot building will house a new lecture hall, science labs, cafeteria, photography department, and theatre and study rooms. It had a planned completion date of August 2012.

NOVA’s Woodbridge campus continues to be one of its busiest. The number of registered students at the campus tops 11,000 and nearly 5,000 of them are enrolled full time. It’s the second largest campus by enrollment in the college system, second to its Loudoun campus.

NOVA remains Virginia’s largest college by enrollment with 77,000 students at all of its six campus, topping Virginia Commonwealth University – the state’s largest four-year institution with 30,000 students — and the University of Virginia’s 21,000 students.

Manassas Schools Honor Best & Brightest

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Submitted News

The rain was brief and musical and all heads turned slightly to the window to identify the source. Long drops patterned the windows of the Center for the Arts Candy Factory’s upstairs ballroom and then, satisfied, the 170 guests looked again to the stage, where Manassas Public Schools and Manassas City Public Schools Education Foundation honored their best and brightest this past Saturday, May 11.

Each year, Manassas Public Schools honors their outstanding teachers and administrators, and the Manassas City Public Schools Education Foundation awards scholarships to selected Osbourn High School graduates. This year, both events were combined in one Night of Excellence.

Almeta Radford, Public Relations Specialist for Manassas City Public Schools, presented the teacher and staff awards:

· Teachers of the Year (sponsor: Micron Technology): Krista Kellas, 6th grade teacher, Mayfield Intermediate, and Cathy Nowak, Physical Education teacher at Haydon Elementary School

· Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher: Jennifer Alexander, Social Studies teacher, Osbourn High School

· Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award: Angela Burnett, Principal, Weems Elementary School

· Support Employee Excellence Award (sponsor: Minnieland Private Day School): Lorraine Hoyt, Instructional Assistant, Mayfield Intermediate School

· Outstanding First Year Teacher (sponsor: Councilman Ian Lovejoy): Mariclare Masterson, 3rd grade teacher, Jennie Dean Elementary School

· Outstanding Second Year Teacher (sponsor: Dr. Michaelene Meyer): Shannon Morgan, World, US, and Virginia History, Osbourn High School

· Outstanding Third Year Teacher (sponsor: Ken and Lisa LaLonde): Jennifer Santiago, 6th grade ESOL teacher, Mayfield Intermediate School

· Outstanding Mentor of the Year (sponsor: Apple Federal Credit Union): Marriam Ewaida, Literacy Coach, Metz Middle School

· National Board Certification (sponsors: George Mason University; Prince William Office of the Executive: Tri-Ed Tutoring): Deborah Krawczyk, Spanish teacher, Osbourn High School, and Claire Kennedy, French teacher, Osbourn High School

Manassas City Public Schools Education Foundation then recognized eight Osbourn graduates, each of whom received a $2,000 scholarship:

· Delegate Harry J. Parrish Community Services Scholarship: Mary Spitler (will attend the University of Virginia)

· Superintendent’s Scholarship: Alexandra Maddox (will attend Longwood University)

· STEM Scholarship (sponsor: Micron Technology): Meghan Perez (will attend Johns Hopkins University)

· STEM Scholarship (sponsor: Micron Technology): Lauren Raffanello (will attend Virginia Tech)

· STEM Scholarship (sponsor: Lockheed Martin): Andrew Rollins (will attend Virginia Tech)

· STEM Scholarship (sponsor: Lockheed Martin): Tyler Bezek (will attend Virginia Tech)

· Fine Arts Scholarship: Maria Davis (will attend DeSales University)

· Vocational / Trade School Scholarship (sponsors: Micron Technology and NOVA SySTEMic Solutions): Justin Clayborn (will attend Northern Virginia Community College)

Additionally, the Manassas City Public Schools Education Foundation thanked its sponsors.

· Vision Supporters:

o Apple Federal Credit Union

o Lockheed Martino Micron Technology

o Minnieland Private Day School

o NOVA SySTEMic Solutions

· Behind-the-Scenes Supporters:

o Carmello’s Restaurant

o Center for the Arts o Infinite Printing

o Mayfield Intermediate School

o Raise the Bar Strength & Conditioning

· Stand Strong Friends

· Fine Arts: Connor Albright Fund

Lianne Best, the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, read the poem, “Our Greatest Fear,” by Marianne Williamson, then closed with, “Thank you to the teachers for shining your light in our community. Thank you to the students for carrying our community’s light into the world. Congratulations to you all.”

After the awards presentations, all guests enjoyed a reception in the Gallery on the second floor of the Center for the Arts Candy Factory.

Sponsors for the Night of Excellence were:

· Main Event Sponsor: Micron Foundation

· Venue Sponsor: Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory

· Reception Sponsor: Carmello’s Restaurant

· High School Sponsor: SySTEMic Solutions

· Middle School Sponsor: Minnieland Private Day School

· Elementary School Sponsors: Connor Albright Fund; Apple Federal Credit Union; Infinite Printing; Virginia Commerce Bank

Halley Elementary School Students Rock Problem Solving

Halley's Future Problem Solvers!

Submitted News

Halley Elementary School’s Advanced Academics teacher, Jennifer Weis, prepares and escorts qualifying teams of students each year to the Future Problem Solvers competition, called the Virginia State Bowl.

This year, three FCPS schools qualified to compete in the State Bowl – Halley ES, Marshall HS, and TJHSST. The Halley teams excelled!

When the scoring for the junior teams was completed, the 5th grade team made up of Rachel Choi, An Lo, Edwin Olvera-Villatoro and Bailey Phillips took 4th place in writing, and 3rd place in their skit. The 6th grade team made up of Lauren Ardrey, Abbie Glaser, Zach Martin and Tyler Phillips took 2nd place in writing, and 1st place in skit! Because the 6th grade team won their division at the State Bowl, they have been invited to the International Bowl in June, at Indiana University. Wow!!!!

As you can imagine, not only is the 6th grade team thrilled, but the entire Halley commmunity is thrilled. Way to go Hornets!

Please visit vafps.org for more details.

700 Students Expected at New ‘Haymarket Drive’ Elementary School in 2014

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[Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

By URIAH KISER

HAYMARKET, Va. – With the population in western Prince William County steadily on the rise, officials on Tuesday broke ground for the county’s 57th elementary school.

Now known as the “Haymarket Drive” elementary school, all that’s here now is red clay, and construction equipment that will be used to transform this rural landscape into a bustling campus for children.

“The school division builds buildings, we build shells, we stack brick on brick, but it will be the members of this school community that build the Haymarket Drive elementary school,” said Prince William School Board Chairman Milton C. Johns.

The school board will be responsible for naming the building that is scheduled to open in September 2014. When it does, it’ll help alleviate overcrowding at nearby Buckland Mills Elementary School in Gainesville, said Schools Superintendent Steven Walts.

Sitting in Prince William’s rural Brenstville District, the 24-acre school site is near the Town of Haymarket, in a wooded area of Haymarket Drive – from which the site takes its name. The $19 million building is set to include 45 classrooms, activity rooms, community rooms, media center, computer lab, a baseball field, and two play areas – one with a concrete surface and the other a mulch surface playground.

More than 700 students are expected to call  this school, designed by Mosley Architects and to be built by Scheibel Construction, their home when it opens next year.

A second school already under construction in Nokesville will be the first in Prince William to house students in kindergarten through eighth grades. It will also open next year.

“We are still the second-largest School Division in Virginia. We anticipate enrolling over 2,000 additional students next year, bringing our projected enrollment to about 86,000,” said Walts, who noted the new Haymarket elementary school’s location’s close proxminity to the Fauquier County line.

“Each new school we open is a milestone, and demonstrates the commitment that Prince William County Public Schools has to Providing A World-Class Education in the best learning and teaching environment possible,” said Prince William Brentsville District School Board member Gill Trenum.

Brentsville Supervisor Wally Covington was also at the ceremony and touted his Board of Supervisors increased support for education after a decision this year to allocate 57.23% of its budget to the county school system in an annual automatic transfer of funds, up from 56.75% in previous years.

 

Best Basketball Shooters Competition to Benefit Childrens Summer Camp

Teenagers who attend the General Heiser Boys and Girls Club in Dumfries celebrated a $10,000 makeover inside of the club on Saturday, as part of IKEA Woodbridge’s “Life Improvement Challenge.” (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

News from Content Partner Boys and Girls Club

Who are some of the area’s top basketball elite perimeter shooters? Using the state of the art G Team Sports Professional Shooting Machine, the Prince William/Manassas Boys & Girls Clubs will find out on May 15, 16 and 17.

Youth and adults will be challenged to test their basketball shooting accuracy and speed while taking variety  of jump shots from around the basket. Event sponsor G Team Sports Basketball Shooting Machine guarantees the same high quality shot selection, speed and distribution that college athletics and professional athletes are given every day.

Video of the challenge rules can be found at gteamsports.com. Registration is free for all participants, spectators fee is $2 at the entrance. One hundred percent of entrance fees go directly to the Boys &Girls Clubs Send A Kid To Camp summer camp financial  aid assistance program.

Register for the event by clicking here

This event is open to the public with three age divisions; Division I ages 10 – 13, Division II ages 14 – 17, division III ages 18 years and up.

Shooting elite Challenge will start at 6 p.m. at each location:

May 13  Manassas Boys & Girls Club 9501 Dean Park Manassas, Va. 20110    703-365-2582

May 14 Hylton Boys & Girls Club 5070 Dale Boulevard Dale City, Va.  22193     703-670-3311

May 15 General Heiser Boys & Girls Club 17565 Old Stage Coach Road Dumfries, Va.  22026 703-441-0611

In athletics alone, The Prince William County Boys & Girls clubs serves over 2,000 youth athletics in various sports from introductory to elite level players.This month’s  elite basketball shooting challenge also kicks off the Boys & Girls Clubs new county wide summer elite basketball league for 10u 12u 14u 15u 16u age divisions.

The Boys & Girls Clubs provide a safe and positive experience to youth in Prince William County, Dumfries, and Manassas; positively impacting the lives of youth their our priority outcome areas: Academic Success, Healthy Lifestyles and Good Character & Citizenship.

 

Virginia Lottery Surprises School, Awards Manassas ‘Super Teacher’ Cash

Virginia Lottery Executive Director Paula Otto presents Osbourn Park High School civics teacher Christina Ross with a check for $2,000, awarding her as a “Super Teacher” of the year. [Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

MANASSAS, Va. – Christina Ross is $2,000 richer today. But the Manassas teacher who was honored by the Virginia Lottery says her work with students is far more rewarding than any cash prize.

Ross, a civics teacher at Osbourn Park High School, is a Virginia Lottery’s “Super Teacher of the Year” for 2013. She was presented a $2,000 check Wednesday in front of her students, fellow teachers, and local school officials who gathered inside the school’s library to surprise her.

In addition to the cash, Ross also received a voucher for $2,000 in school supplies for her classroom from the Supply Room Companies.

“The only reason I’m a great teacher is because I have great students,” a surprised Ross told her students and the rest of those inside the library.

“You guys make me great, but I’m sharing any of the money,” she joked.

Once a legislative aide on Capitol Hill, Ross took up teaching high school six years ago. Always driven to serve the community and to instill the same values in her students, her class on Wednesday also started “Kicks for Kids,” a non-profit organization set up entirely by students to help drive donations of footwear and coats for needy children in the region.

“I really like the way she encourages us to get out into the community, to get outside our school, visit other schools, and see how we can help make an impact in our community,” said Katherine Davis, 18, a student in Ross’ class.

Many other students said Ross is able to connect with them because she’s passionate about what she teaches.

“Her enthusiasm is great, and she gives us the freedom to come up with these different projects,” said 17-year-old Effie Smith.

Last year Ross’ students collected 350 pairs of shoes and $2,500 in donations for Kicks for Kids. Students this year hope to top that.

Ross was nominated for the award by Assistant Principal Cassandra Crawford who commended her on her use of technology in the classroom.

“She utilizes Voicethread, a web-based application, to ‘flip’ her classroom. She also uses Twitter to engage students in virtual Socratic seminars,” penned Crawford in a nomination letter to the Virginia Lottery.

“Super Teachers” at Signal Hill Elementary School in Manasass, and at Rosa Parks Elementary School in Woodbridge in 2009 have also been recognized.

Later this fall, eight other “Super Teachers” from schools across Virginia will be entered for the chance to win $5,000 in supplies for their classroom from the Supply Room Companies.

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Bomb Threat Prompts Elementary School Evacuation

MONTCLAIR, Va. – Students and staff are outside Henderson Elementary School this morning after someone made a bomb threat at the school.

Police are on the scene, and students and staff are being held in a safe area while investigators work to determine the credibility of the threat, school officials said.

Details about what’s happening at the school will be posted on the school’s website.

We’ll bring you more as we have it.

Roman Named Rocky Run Principal

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — There’s a new principal at Rocky Run Elementary School in Stafford County.

School officials announced the appointment of Nicholas R. Roman Jr., as the school’s new leader. He now works as the principal of Ferry Farm Elementary in south Stafford, said Stafford schools spokeswoman Vallerie Cottongim. He will take over as Rocky Run’s principal effective July 1.

More in a press release from the school system:

Nick Roman started his career as a third grade teacher at Stafford Elementary School in 2001. He moved to the new Kate Waller Barrett Elementary the following year and continued as a third grade teacher and grade level chairperson.  

Roman was appointed as an assistant principal at Ferry Farm Elementary in 2006. He has facilitated all student support and special education Individualized Educational Plans while at Ferry Farm Elementary.

He has supervised responsibilities for the response to intervention committee, professional learning communities, and bully prevention training. Roman created Ferry Farm Elementary’s first master schedule to include an intervention/enrichment block for each grade level to promote differentiated instruction.

Roman earned a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Woodbridge Students Perform Their Own Written Works

[Submitted photo]

By RENEE ORDOOBADI
For Potomac Local News

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – For three years, Woodbridge Senior High School Center for the Fine and Performing Arts (CFPA) Creative Writing students performed self-written pieces at ‘A Play on Words’ for their friends and family. The event took place in the Studio Theater on Saturday.

CFPA is one of the many specialty programs that Woodbridge Senior High School offers. The program is broken down into various concentrations including Dance, Creative Writing, Music: Instrumental, Music: Vocal, Music Technology, Theater and Visual Arts.

‘A Play on Words’ gives freshman, sophomore, junior and senior CFPA Creative Writing students a chance to read fiction, nonfiction, poetry and script, all of which they have been working on since the beginning of the school year.

“I read a fictional piece called ‘Heat Stroke.’ The southern accent that I used came through partly involuntarily because I’m from Texas, but also because that is the accent I imagined my character would have,” Junior Katelyn Portorreal said.

Portorreal admitted that she was completely terrified reading in front of the audience.

“Without Mrs. Hailey’s (CFPA Creative Writing teacher) encouragement, I don’t think I could have done it.”

Mrs. Catherine Hailey said that her proudest moment was difficult to pin down.

“’Play on Words’ is the only opportunity I have to listen to students read straight through – beginning with freshmen and ending with seniors – so it’s a real testimony to the growth that occurs in our program. I feel pride in seeing that growth and knowing I’ve contributed in some small way,” Hailey said.

Hailey was especially pleased seeing Maria Schleh’s script ‘The Firing Squad’ performed.

“It was longer than we would usually pick for ‘A Play on Words,’ but hearing multiple voices made it very powerful for the audience. I was also pleased to hear Katelyn Portorreal read her fiction excerpt since she has often been hesitant to read in front of large groups. She told me later that she was glad she read, and I hope it is a turning point for her,” Hailey said.

Hailey was not the only one enthused by the students’ performances.

Junior Mikayla Thompson, who read a nonfiction piece about art and what it means it her, claimed that her parents enjoyed hearing her read.

“They were super proud when I got up there. They told me I was very elegant and poised,” Thompson said.

Besides the senior showcases, which are on May 29, ‘A Play on Words’ is one of the last chances for CFPA Creative Writing seniors to perform their work in high school.

“I read my poem, ‘Thoughts (The Consequence of a Rumor)’ which is actually going to be in Eddas! (Eddas is Woodbridge Senior High School’s lterary and ats magazine.) This is my first time getting published in Eddas,” Senior Kadie Bennis said.

Bennis said that reading in front of people has slowly become easier for her.

“After having four years of reading in front of a big audience on a microphone, I was quite comfortable with it; not to mention I was with some really awesome friends I’ve known and been with since freshmen year. Through the years, I’ve learned to experiment with different styles of writing and I actually learned to revise my works based on other people’s critiques,” Bennis said.

Renee Ordoobadi is a student at Woodbridge Senior High School.

West Gate Students Participate in ‘Project Plant It’

[Submitted photo]

Submitted News

MANASSAS, Va. – On Arbor Day, April 26, the third-graders at West Gate Elementary School in Prince William County had a chance to get their hands dirty and plant some trees. It was all part of Dominion Virginia Power’s environmental program Project Plant It!, a fun and educational way to help the kids learn about trees and the environment.

Thousands of elementary students in Northern Virginia, including all of the third-graders in Prince William County, were enrolled in Project Plant It! this spring. Teachers got a kit of lesson plans and other instructional tools that aligned with state learning standards for math, science and other subjects. Dominion also provided the students with their own redbud tree seedling to take home on Arbor Day.

Since 2007, Project Plant It! has distributed more than 160,000 tree seedlings to students in several states where the company operates. For more information or to view videos and games about trees, visit projectplantit.com.

Educators Leaving City for New Jobs

(Photo: Prince William County Public Schools)

MANASSAS, Va. – Two educators are moving on from public schools in Manassas to other divisions in the state.

More in a press release from Manassas Public Schools:

Dr. John Werner, in his second year as principal of Osbourn High School, has been named principal of Western Albemarle High School effective July 1 of this year.

“We wish Dr. Werner the best as he pursues this opportunity to expand his professional experience as a principal,” says Dr. Catherine Magouyrk, superintendent of Manassas schools.

Dr. Michaelene Meyer, Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction has been named Superintendent of Tazewell County Public Schools.

“Dr. Meyer has been a part of the MCPS family for the past six years and we wish her much success in her new role as superintendent for Tazewell,” Magouyrk says. Meyer will begin her position as superintendent July 1.

 

Prince William Schools Post 2013 Graduation Ceremony Dates

View from the stage: Delegate Rich Anderson captured this photo of Woodbridge Senior High School graduates at their 2012 graduation ceremony. (Submitted photo)

The following graduation dates, times, and locations have been announced for Prince William County Public Schools high school, summer school, practical nursing program, and adult education students. Events scheduled at Jiffy Lube Live Pavilion and the Patriot Center are subject to change. Members of the Prince William County School Board are expected to attend many of these events.

Adult Ed & Summer School

Thursday, August 1 

7:30 p.m. at Hylton HS

Battlefield HS

Friday, June 14

7 p.m. at Jiffy Lube Live

Brentsville District HS

Tuesday, June 11

2 p.m. at Jiffy Lube Live

Forest Park HS

Saturday, June 8

2:30 p.m. at Patriot Center

Freedom HS

Saturday June 8

7 p.m. at Patriot Center

Gar-Field HS

Friday June 14

7 p.m. at Patriot Center

Governor’s School Awards Ceremony and Banquet

Saturday, June 1

10 a.m. at Mason PW Campus Verizon/Occoquan Bldg

Hylton HS

Saturday, June 8

9:30 a.m. at Patriot Center

Independent Hill School

Thursday, June 6

1 p.m. at IHS Gymnasium

New Directions Alternative Ed Center Senior Awards

Thursday, June 6

6:30 p.m. at Hylton Performing Arts Center

Osbourn Park HS

Saturday, June 15

2 p.m. at Patriot Center

PACE East Senior Awards

Friday, May 31

9:15 a.m. at IHS Gymnasium

PACE West Senior Awards Luncheon

Thursday, June 6

12:30 p.m. at PACE West Gymnasium

Patriot HS

Thursday, June 13

6:30 p.m. at Patriot HS

Potomac HS

Monday, June 10

2:30 p.m. at Jiffy Lube Live

Practical Nursing Program

Friday, May 31

6:30 p.m. at Osbourn Park HS Auditorium

Stonewall Jackson HS

Tuesday, June 11

7 p.m. at Jiffy Lube Live

Thomas Jefferson HS for Science & Technology

Saturday, June 15

7 p.m. at Patriot Center

Woodbridge HS

Saturday, June 15

9 a.m. at Woodbridge HS

-Prince William County Public Schools

Debating the Math on Education Funding

A U.S. Marine for more than 20 years, Alan Roach teaches government at Potomac Middle School in Woodbridge. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

By AMBER GALAVIZ
Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – During the General Assembly’s 2013 session, state legislators debated how much to spend on public education. But has education funding been going up or down? It depends on whom you ask.

Democratic politicians and the Virginia Education Association say funding for the commonwealth’s public schools is at its lowest level since 2008.

Gov. Bob McDonnell disputes that.

“You can cherry-pick statistics to say that we’re grossly underfunding K-12,” McDonnell said. “If you look back over the last decade, we’ve had significant increases in K-12 education per capita.”

The governor’s office says that McDonnell’s numbers come from the Virginia Department of Education. They also say that to get the full picture, you must also look at enrollment as well as dollars spent.

Public education money comes from the state, localities and the federal government. In a report issued in November, the Senate Finance Committee noted how much the state spends per pupil.

In 2009, the report said, the state spent $4,691 per student. This year, the figure is $4,286 – a drop of $405, or almost 9 percent.

The VEA, which represents more than 60,000 teachers, supported the governor’s education agenda during the legislative session in January and February. But VEA President Meg Gruber says more work must be done.

“The state needs to go back to funding their full share of the state cost of education,” Gruber said.

Virginia is the ninth wealthiest state yet ranks 38th in state funding per pupil, according to the VEA. The association says the state is spending $4,812 per student this year – compared with $5,274 in 2009.

The commonwealth budgeted about $5.8 billion for public education this year. Over the past three years, state support has been cut by about $1.7 billion, the VEA says. The state is responsible for 44 percent of public education costs.

Gruber said the VEA wants the Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission, the General Assembly’s investigative staff, to study the situation.

Democrats also are concerned.

“We cannot have a 21st-century economy without a 21st-century education system, from K-12 to colleges and universities. And recently, we have been neglecting both,” House Minority Leader David Toscano of Charlottesville said in the Democratic response to McDonnell’s State of the Commonwealth address on Jan. 9.

“Every investment in education is a down payment on our growing economy.”

Jeff Caldwell, the governor’s press secretary, said the state will spend $4,826 per student in 2014 – an increase from the current year. He said Virginia is spending far more on public education than it did a decade ago.

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve increased state spending on public education by 39%, or $1,682,704,444, while enrollment has only increased by 5% from fiscal year 2004 to fiscal year 2014,” Caldwell said in an email.

“The governor has been very clear that he does not believe you can spend your way out of the challenges facing our schools and students. You must look at outcomes and figure out how to improve student achievement (especially in core STEM-related subjects), and give educators the tools they need to excel in the classroom. That is why his education legislation has focused on several different ways to improve schools and support the best teachers.”

William C. Bosher, a professor of public policy and education at Virginia Commonwealth University, says there are different ways to interpret numbers.

“Usually the numbers only have meaning if you are able to look at the definitions used to generate them. The context is also important as is the political or policy agenda that is driving the numbers,” Bosher said.

With Odds Against Him, Milde Wants Forced Vote on Stafford High School Demolition

Stafford High School (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Stafford High School (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

By KEITH WALKER
For Potomac Local News

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Stafford County’s Aquia District Supervisor Paul Milde doesn’t plan on yielding on his position on renovating Stafford Senior High School rather than building a new one.

Even though the board has voted several times to demolish Stafford Senior High School and build a new one in its place, Milde said he is determined to once again bring the matter before the board.

“I’ll make them vote on that,” Milde said.

In a recent editorial published at PotomacLocalNews.com, Milde wrote that it didn’t make sense opposition to tear down the 285,000-square-foot Stafford Senior High only to replace it with a new 275,000-square-foot high school at a cost of $66 million.

Milde

Milde

Milde wrote that renovating Stafford Senior High School would give the county afford the county better financial standing.

“Why tie up $66 million in County borrowing capacity to build a new school when renovating the existing facility would fulfill our needs for about a third of that?” he wrote.

In a recent phone interview, Milde said one reason he favors renovation is that the savings could be used to give teachers pay raises.

Thomas

Thomas

He said the savings in the monthly payments and interest on a $66 million loan, or the debt service, would easily pay for teacher pay raises for years to come.

“The debt service on that kind of money is $5 million. It’s four cents on the tax rate,” he said. “In the out years it’s a savings of $3 million a year in debt service for 20 years.”

Vice Chairman Robert Thomas favors building a new school while leaving the existing building in place, but he found that option unlikely. He said he had his staff evaluate the cost of land for a new school which would allow the county to keep the old building.

“I had them looking at different options and trying to find property on the outskirts of the existing school …but I can’t make that puzzle work to keep both buildings,” said Thomas, who represents the George Washington District.

Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairman Susan B. Stimpson, Garrisonville District Supervisor Ty Schieber and Hartwood District Supervisor Gary Snellings sided with Thomas in the board’s latest vote.

Griffis-Widewater Supervisor Jack Cavalier, sides with Milde on the issue.

One of the reasons he voted with Milde was because the county’s population isn’t growing as fast as it was a decade ago.

“We’re not in a ‘build-a-high-school’ mode right now like we were back in the early to mid-2000s,” said Cavalier who voted for renovation in the latest board vote. “I’m sure eventually we’re going to get there, but I don’t think we’re at critical mass right now.”

Rock Hill District Supervisor Cord Sterling said he would once again look at the county’s ‘0verall budget and what advances the county in its financial goals infrastructure,’ before deciding how he would vote if Milde sways the board toward reconsideration

“It depends on all of the factors that are going into this budget,” Sterling said.

Sterling doesn’t necessarily agree with the notion of borrowing money simply because interest rates are low.

“It doesn’t matter how cheap money is, if you can’t afford to pay it back, you go bankrupt,” he said.

Sterling, who voted in favor of renovation in the latest vote, went on to say that reversing the board’s decision to build a new high school would be “difficult.”

Cavalier said he understood that disagreement over the issue remained, but agreed with Sterling.

“It’s a fairly controversial topic. People have their opinions. It’s just like anything else with schools. It’s a hard decision. A decision’s been made and right now that’s the one we have to live with,” Cavalier said.

Milde said he would persevere.

“It’s not too late,” he said.

‘Oklahoma’ Hits Woodbridge High School Stage

By RENEE ORDOOBADI
For Potomac Local News

LAKE RIDGE, Va. – Comedy, Romance, singing, dancing and a live orchestra – Woodbridge Senior High School students combined all of these talents to perform the musical ‘Oklahoma,’ on Saturday.

Without a doubt, excessive work was needed on stage and behind the scenes for such a grand performance to be made possible.

Michael Viola, an English teacher at Woodbridge Senior High School, voluntarily involved himself in the production of ‘Oklahoma.’

“My involvement began simply by me asking [Woodbridge Senior High School Arts program director] Ms. Carol Rethmel if she needed help. When she said that she would love some help, I jumped right in,” Viola said.

In addition, Viola was glad to put a lot of his artistic vision into the show.

“Some of my favorite things to do as a director is evoke more realistic characters out of each and every actor, choreograph and stage large production numbers, and make the show seamless through fluidity of movement. I was able to achieve all of that. I am very proud of the final product – the overall production quality exceeded my highest expectations,” Viola said.

Junior Reece Miller took note of Viola’s efforts.

“I liked the choreography of the wedding, it was so mystical. And my favorite part was the fight scene; the actors did really well,” Miller said.

Woodbridge Senior High School’s orchestra students put the audience in a sweet disposition before act one began. When the curtains rose, sophomore Patrick Kelly (who played Curly) captured the audience’s attention as he sang ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.’

“The Oklahoma Song, where the whole cast came together with such enthusiasm and teamwork was my proudest moment on stage. All of our hard work came together as one,” Kelly said.

Although singing in front of an audience can be nerve-racking, acting may also put people out of their comfort zones, depending on the characters they must portray.

For junior Jordan Frederick (Ado Annie) and Duane Macatangay (Ali Hakim) they learned to overcome certain difficulties when performing in ‘Oklahoma.’

“Well Duane had to overcome his fear of kissing people on stage, and for me, I had to overcome my conservative qualities and be more out there with my physicality. It was a little tricky because I was not used to being all over boys, and with my character that’s all she thinks about. I’m going to miss that show; it was so much fun!” Frederick said.

For many seniors, including Jenna Grazzini, ‘Oklahoma’ was officially their last high school musical/play.

“Yeah, it is (‘Oklahoma’) my last play at Woodbridge, sadly. I can look forward to our choir department’s Spring Show at least, which still incorporates costumes and choreography,” Grazzini said. “Last night was so rewarding because the huge crowd was so responsive that we truly felt as if our hard work paid off. Every actor had been put in the perfect role and it showed.”

I-95 Congestion Delays School Buses in Stafford County

Interstate 95 south at Dumfries [Photo: Uriah Kiser/Potomac Local News]

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Congested roadways in Stafford County this morning lead to students on school buses being late to class.

The county school division put out a notice to social media followers on Facebook:

Due to the traffic congestion on I95 and the overflow on county roads, our school buses are unable to get through the county and are delayed. Please be patient as our bus drivers work through their routes. Their job is to get your child safely to school! And take an umbrella to the bus stop with you–we’re having April showers today too!

The Virginia Department of Transportation reported a crash on Interstate 95 north near Dumfries about 6 a.m. When crews closed two lanes of traffic to respond to the crash, traffic backed apparently backed up in Stafford County.

It’s unclear how many buses and students were late to class this morning.

 

‘Be There’ Campaign Encourages Parents to Take Active Role in Students Lives

By CATHERINE MAGOUYRK
Superintendent
Manassas City Public Schools

When I entered the world of public school education as a starry-eyed math teacher, it didn’t take long for me to learn that although I was charged with the task of teaching formulas and equations, I, and the other educators in my building were not the most important teachers in my student’s lives.

The truth of the matter is parents, family members and even neighbors are the first teachers children encounter. The adage that “it takes a village to raise a child” is still true. This is why Manassas City Public Schools recently launched a new initiative called, “Be There”.

Be There is a multi-media campaign designed to inspire families to become more involved in their children’s education. While parent involvement in the school building is very important, Be There focuses on the benefits of parental involvement at home. Research shows that family and community involvement makes a huge difference in student achievement. Basically, we can’t do it without you, whether you are a parent, a sibling, a mentor or a supportive community member and taxpayer. The home environment is the strongest indicator of student success.

We are reaching out to families with the Be There campaign based upon solid research. National surveys show schools where teachers reported high levels of outreach to parents, test scores grew considerably higher than in schools where teachers reported low levels of outreach. Research indicates the following benefits of family and community involvement for students:

• Higher grades and test scores

• Better attendance and more homework done

• Higher graduation rates

You may think it’s difficult to be involved because your days are full. We understand. As I mentioned, the Be There campaign takes a little different approach to traditional parent involvement. Simply engage your child in a conversation about what happened each day at school. Ask specific questions about teachers, friends and extra-curricular activities. No matter your child’s age, use everyday moments — like trips to the bank, grocery store or gas station — to teach your child about money matters, reading food labels or conserving energy. Turn routine trips into games. For more information and ideas, visit www.betheremcps.org.

As our division’s Strategic Plan is being developed, community engagement and family involvement have been deemed as a top priority. The Be There campaign is an excellent way to put this in action.

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