The Chalkboard: School Briefs


Vote on Philosophical ChangeDeferred to October 22

Faced with revising a policy that would change Alexandria City Public Schools philosophy on gauging student progress, the School Board opted to deliberate a bit longer on its final wording. Originally presented with the new policy, Policy IFA, at its first meeting of the year on September 10, board members debated the most recent batch of revisions Thursday before deferring the vote to their next session on October 22.

According to school officials, the new guideline formalizes the strategies which master teachers traditionally employ, such as multiple assessments and opportunities for students to prove theyve mastered the material. The policy would permit reassessment and retesting where applicable and in its first incarnation called for the Virginia Standards of Learning to become the minimum base of ACPS curriculum and assessment programs.

The Board is currently taking public suggestions and comments on the policy through Friday on its website.

Fighting Trends Down,But More Noticeable

After an opening month of school that led to concerned calls from parents about fights at the citys middle and high school campuses, statistics from the past four school years illustrate an overall downward trend in reported in-school incidents.

For the month of September, fight-related suspensions are at levels comparable to recent years and police referrals are down overall, Superintendent Morton Sherman reported.

Our kids generally are remarkable students who behave well in school, he said. What Im seeing and when I talk to these principals, the fights that have occurred have been a little bit more visible and perhaps a little bit more violent than fights in previous years.

According to those statistics released last Thursday, the number of disciplinary incidents and the students involved have been steadily decreasing since the 2005-2006 school year when there were more than 1,084 students contributed to 2,317 reported incidents. Last year, 612 students were cited for 979 reported incidents.

Even one fight is too many and even if there are fewer or more, we need to pay attention to why those fights are occurring, Sherman said.

All Breakfasts Now Served in Cafeteria

As of last Thursday, all G.W. students opting to have breakfast at school are eating in the cafeteria, Sherman said, rectifying what some students and parents felt was an unfair decision toward students at G.W. 1.

At the start of the school year, students in G.W. 2 took their first meal of the day in the buildings cafeteria because it was on their side of the campus, but their peers in G.W. 1 were served breakfast in a makeshift cafeteria located in the schools auxiliary gymnasium, a decision aimed at giving kids more time to eat and raising overall breakfast participation but one that angered families when students arrived the first day with no tables, some eating on the floor.

Through the first month of school, the number of students eating school breakfast increased by 500 percent, from 20 students to 100 students each day, Sherman said.

Scholarship Fund Telethon Coming Soon

The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria will hold the live broadcast of its 16th Annual Fall Telethon October 25 at T.C. Williams High School.

The five-hour live program features student performers and professional entertainers who contribute their time and talents to raise pledges to support the organizations general fund. Last year, the telethon netted a record-breaking $135,000 to support higher education for Alexandria students, according to a spokesperson for the funds organization.

General scholarships support students with academic promise but who lack the financial resources to access and complete higher education.

Anyone interested can pledge early on the groups website ( or call 703 824-6730 to support the event, which will air from 4 to 9 p.m. on Comcast Channel 69.

Fall Edition of Get Real Magazine Available Now

This seasons edition of Get Real magazine, a publication of the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy, is now available online at under the New Features tab and is also available in print.

Get Real is a free publication written by and for Alexandria teens, covering such issues as teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, healthy relationships, volunteer opportunities and other issues. The fall 2009 edition includes a piece on The Flohemians, two Alexandria youths who use art and spoken word to communicate their message to live a free spirited life style in continuous search for knowledge and experience.

Other features include Get a Life, a look at a local Alexandria student using her time to volunteer in the community, Dear Sexpert, questions and answers related to sex and relationships, and much more. To receive copies for your organization or youth group, contact Kim Hurley at 703-746-5030 or

Seminar on Teen Brain Development Open to 10th Grade Families

An upcoming program at T.C. Williams will give 10th grade students and their parents the chance to learn more about teenage brain development and the negative effects of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. The workshop, titled The Teenage Brain: What You Need to Know and What You Can Do starts at 7 p.m. on October 22 in the schools cafeteria.

T.C. Williams Principal William Clendaniel, Community of Concern President Mimi Fleury and Shelly Morgan, a board member of the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria, will talk about ways to help keep teens free of substance abuse. The program includes dinner and participants will break into small discussion groups after the initial presentation.

Teachers to Present at State Conference Later This Month

Four teachers from Alexandria City Public Schools have been asked to present workshops at the annual Virginia Social Studies Conference in Richmond on October 23 and 24. It is the first time that ACPS has had four teachers asked to present at the annual state conference for social studies educators, according to a school spokesperson.

T.C. Williams AP World History teacher Molly Freitag and Ninth-Grade English Teacher Lytle Brent will present two workshops. Their first presentation is Writing a Research Paper: An Interdisciplinary Approach and the second is Collaboration between History and English Curricula. Francis C. Hammond 1 Middle School teachers Helena Payne and Lolita Breckenridge will also be there to for their portion, Music and Pedagogy.