Fairfax County School Notes

ffx-schools-logoHere are some people and events making news at your Fairfax County Public Schools:

  • The Crestwood Elementary SCA is holding a different kind of collection for its fall service project by collecting pennies to support the victims of Hurricane Sandy, with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross. This type of service project is a first for Crestwood’s Title I student body, which has collected canned food for the needy in years past. The students set a timed goal — with the drive ending today (Dec. 21) — to collect coins in each classroom. Some students have come to school with plastic bags filled with the contents of their piggy banks. Apple Federal Credit Union has offered to count the donations and create a check that will be forwarded to the Red Cross.
  • The Annandale High chorus program and art students in Suellen Novak’s class are collaborating with the youth choirs of the Fairfax Choral Society (FCS) for the Poetry of Music project. Choral students submitted poetry that could be set to music by a well-known composer, published, then performed by the master singers of FCS during their March 2013 concert. Along with the poetry, Novak’s students are creating art based on the poem, which will be displayed gallery-style at the performance. The poem that was selected was written by sophomore Caitlin Odom; she will have the opportunity to work directly with the composer as he sets her poem, “Innocence,” to music.
  • Ninety-eight students at Beech Tree Elementary will benefit from the Community Kids Toy Drive program, sponsored by BJ’s Wholesale Club employees. The store, located in the Falls Church area, chose Beech Tree to receive holiday coats, mittens and gloves for some of the neediest students. Store manager Jazmin Harris, her staff, and community volunteers pitched in for the donation.
  • Each December, Penny Kelly invites her current and past students from the Fire and Emergency Medical Sciences (EMS) program at Falls Church Academy to accompany her to Washington, DC, to meet and donate to some of the people who live on the streets. This year, 45 students joined her for the 17th year of this day-long event, during which the students provided hot chocolate, hats, gloves, scarves, socks and blankets to the homeless. As future fire and rescue workers, the students will have frequent contact with homeless people and, as part of their education, Kelly hopes to teach them that indigent individuals deserve the same respect as anyone else. The group also visited several DC fire department and EMS locations. They ended their day by visiting ZooLights at the National Zoo.
  • Twenty-two students who are enrolled in Exploring Health Science at Falls Church Academy filled stockings to share holiday cheer with children who will spend their holidays at Inova Fairfax Hospital. These students, who participate in the academy’s HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) club, discussed taking on this task during a recent chapter meeting. Sadya Ouedraogo, chapter president, who plans to be a cardiac surgeon, coordinated the project. HOSA students contributed money to purchase the items for 50 stockings and stuffed each one. Prior to the winter break, the students delivered these gifts to the hospital; they will be distributed by hospital staff members on or around Christmas.
  • The Cellar Dwellers, a FIRST Lego League (FLL) team composed of students from Lake Anne Elementary and Vienna Elementary, won the Division 1 State Championship, competing against more than 360 other teams, in a robotics competition based on the theme Senior Solutions which aims to help senior citizens stay independent, engaged, and connected with their communities. Team members are Sara Leong, Andy Schauer, and Jack Barrett of Lake Anne; Nico Lagendyk and Andrew Barrett, Lake Anne alumni; and Max Butler of Vienna Elementary. The Cellar Dwellers were judged in four categories: how their robot performed, robot design, teamwork, and the thoroughness of their research project. They received top scores in all four categories, earning the first place Champion’s Award. The team will represent Virginia in one of the FLL Open Invitationals in the spring and will have their choice of competing in California, Florida or Germany. South Lakes High (and Lake Anne alumna) Natalie Schauer and parents John Barrett and Kim Schauer coach the team.
  • In conjunction with a run-a-thon completed by the student body, the Marshall Road Elementary PTA has raised $13,000 for classroom technology. Approximately 600 students ran nearly 1,800 miles — the equivalent of running from Vienna to the Grand Canyon — on the school track that was built earlier this year from the money raised from pledges during the school’s first run-a-thon. Parent volunteers provided support by bringing fruit for the runners, counting laps, and offering water as well as running with some of the students. Principal Jennifer Heiges plans to have the new technology available for students to use in spring 2013.
  • Robinson Secondary students held a book drive to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy by creating fliers stating “Hurricane Sandy is a Book Thief!” and enlisting their fellow students to donate books. Students at nearby South County High also donated books for the drive. The books were delivered to Tangier Smith Elementary in Mastic Beach on Long Island, N.Y., and students from a local high school helped unload the books. Coordinators of the project on Long Island are inviting teachers from schools that were affected by Sandy to collect some of the donated books to restock their shelves, and are hoping to make a video of the distribution so FCPS students can see where their donations have gone.
  • Sandburg Middle student Kenna McClure and her family sponsored a donation drive to help people whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in Highlands, NJ. The Sandburg community donated clothing, food, blankets, baby items, pet food, and other emergency items that filled three trailers. McClure and her family got the items to the people who needed them within 24 hours.
  • Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) student Sohail Farhangi recently traveled to Mexico as an unofficial participant in the Olimpiada Mexicana de Matemáticas (OMM) in Guanajuanto. In order to go to the OMM, he was required to take two 4 ½ hour tests that required him to solve highly advanced mathematical problems. He and three other U.S. students worked individually and collaboratively on math challenges and had the opportunity to interact with their math peers from Mexico. While he wasn’t competing officially, Farhangi earned a score that would have qualified him for a bronze medal. Farhangi also participated in 10 days of intensive training as part of a large group of students in Washington, DC, as part of a program sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for mathematically advanced students who are members of underrepresented minorities.