Chalkboard: education briefs

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Board adopts new education plan

In the midst of a week that saw the city’s flagship school, T.C. Williams High School, receive national attention for consistently low standardized test scores, the Alexandria School Board last Thursday approved a new education plan for the next three years.

Board Chair Yvonne Folkerts called the directive “a huge step forward” after the group moved to adopt the plan, which prioritizes improving math proficiency at all grade levels increasing eighth-grade Algebra participation and sets a base curriculum that exceeds state standards.

“These targets it’s a bold statement that we’re making,” Folkerts said.

After two months of fine-tuning, the School Board also unanimously approved a “modified open enrollment” policy that Superintendent Morton Sherman originally proposed in early January. It caps class sizes in elementary schools and, should a grade level fill up at a school, sends excess students to attend a neighboring school that meets specific criteria for the program.

A projection of next year’s school populations is expected on April 1.

Patrick Henry school lauded for MLK posters

Twenty ACPS students were honored at last Thursday’s School Board meeting for their entries in the city’s 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. poster contest. Carlton A. Funn Sr., chairman of the Alexandria Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage, also presented certificates to Superintendent Morton Sherman and Patrick Henry school principal Coleen Mann.

According to Funn, Mann’s school produced seven winners and at least one in every grade level a first for the 20-year-old competition, which is sponsored by the Alexandria Black History Museum and the ASPBH.

Speaking to Patrick Henry art teacher Victoria Walchak, who oversaw the winning entries, Funn said, “Ms. Walchak, you need to teach those other art teachers!”

City students put on fitness display for congressmen

Earlier this month, 17 Alexandria City Public Schools students put on an exhibition of the Physical Education for Progress program by performing fitness routines for members of Congress.

Former NFL player John Booty and current Redskins players Chris Horton, Marko Mitchell and Edwin Williams participated with the students. Paul Williams, a four-time welterweight boxing champion, also exercised with the students, according to Dennis Burstein, ACPS curriculum specialist for health and physical education.

“The kids had a blast working out with the Redskins players,” said Kathryn Adzima, a Francis C. Hammond Middle School teacher.

Students taking part included:Sixth-graders Keyarna Frerderick, Jason Vasquez, Ayda Kassim, Hugo Flores, Mario Barrios, LeeAnn Richards, Raven Banks, 

Grant Chamberlain and Valerie Hernandez; seventh-graders Ramsey Benzina, Maya DeWakar, Victoria Dawit, Marcus Pitt and Laurence Turner; eighth-graders Lamont Whiteside and Eshaka Conteh; and ninth-grader Sean Burstein.

Maury ‘Odyssey’ team moves on to state finals

The Column Structure team from Matthew Maury elementary school placed first in the Region 8 Odyssey of the Mind problem-solving competition held March 6 at West Potomac High School, punching their ticket to the state finals on March 27 at Menchville High School in Newport News.

The group’s 17.6-gram balsa structure officially held 152 pounds when time ran out. Unofficially, (the students kept loading), it held 212 pounds.

The official weight was the highest of the day, beating out two middle-school teams and one high school team, a school spokesperson said.

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