Back to school, all year round


With the temperatures hovering near 80 and the humidity level typical of a summer day, the Delaneys loaded up the official kindergarten encouragement wagon on Monday, July 30, with Julia, 5, and John, 3, for the trek to Mount Vernon Community School. Julia was just starting kindergarten at one of two schools in Alexandria with the year-round schedule. She was a bit apprehensive, so parents John and Jennifer made an event out of it with a handmade sign on the wagon. This is a huge deal, said Jennifer Delaney, anything to make her feel good.

Mount Vernon and Samuel Tucker Elementary schools in the city are the only schools on the year-round schedule, which starts in July, goes for a session until October 1, and continues this modified schedule until next June. There are two week breaks intermittently thrown in throughout the year, some coinciding with winter and spring breaks at the other schools. Tucker started last Wednesday, but will make up the schedule difference in the January inter sessions.

Katherine and Rob Carraway biked on the first day with their children Nick, 7, and Emma, 9. Their children were ready to go back, and the Carraways are going to encourage biking to school when possible. Bike or walk, thats the goal anyway, said Katherine Carraway.

This schedule has gotten mixed reviews from parents and students. Becky Yowell got to Mount Vernon that morning with her son Christian, who is also starting in kindergarten and daughter Emma is in second grade. In the periods between semesters, the school system offers inter session classes in Japanese, soccer, art and Tae Kwon Do, to name a few. Weve done almost every inter session theyve had, we love it, Yowell said.

First day scrambling
July or not, the scene at Mount Vernon the first day was a typical first day of school in Anytown, USA. School administrators were out front greeting everyone, parents were scrambling with forms, others were dragging along sleepy students with brand new backpacks stuffed with supplies. Mount Vernon is in Del Ray, right on Commonwealth Avenue, so all the street parking was quickly filled, and others parked on neighborhood streets.

City Councilman Rob Krupicka has a daughter that also just started kindergarten. He was rushing in and to his day job. We really like the year round school, he said.

Maria Aldunates son, Jason, 9, wasnt so happy. She has two other children that go to other city schools that start the Tuesday after Labor Day. We dont like it either, she said. Getting Jason off to class the first day while the others slept wasnt easy. He says, its not fair, she added. Coordinating schedules hasnt been good for the family either. It doesnt work with us, she said.

There is an option available to families that would rather stay with the traditional school schedule. Parents who live in the boundaries for a year round calendar school can opt out of the program and send their children to another city school, but they are responsible for their own transportation said Alexandria Public School System spokesperson Amy Carlini. There are also a number of students that are in the boundaries for a school with a regular schedule, but they transfer in to the year-round school, too, said Carlini. Ninety percent of the students in one of the citys year-round schools attend the inter sessions as well.

Overall, the reception of these year-round schedules has been good, said Carlini. People really like our modified calendar schools, Carlini said.