Filling in the blanks: Summer time at Alexandria City Public Schools

Filling in the blanks: Summer time at Alexandria City Public Schools
School board chairwoman Karen Graf

By Karen Graf

As we fan ourselves to stay cool during the dog days of summer, most of us are not yet thinking of school. Yet, Alexandria City Public Schools is still in full swing to provide academic exploration and summer services to support learning. T.C. Williams High School students, and the Young Scholars and Language Academy programs are engaging students of all ages in summer learning programs.

This summer, T.C Williams hosted a cybersecurity camp. High school students learned the principles of digital security and coding, along with the policies that govern our national and international approach to data and information. Dr. Phyllis Schneck, deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, visited T.C.’s cybersecurity camp and students were able to explore real world scenarios with her.

At Mount Vernon Community School, elementary school students from John Adams and Mount Vernon enjoyed a three-week language academy, reinforcing the elementary dual language program. Teachers from both campuses planned a fun, extensive program that involved exploring Spanish-speaking countries around the world, including Ecuador.

Students from one grade level set up a museum of their country’s discoveries to share with other grades. Second graders performed traditional dances and songs from other cultures for the rest of the academy’s participants. Additionally, this gave English and Spanish language learners extra practice with vocabulary, reading and speaking while exploring science, history and math.

The music camp at the middle school level was a big hit. Students continued to advance their individual skills, working together to improve their playing in a fun-filled, relaxed environment. This camp was open to all students in band and orchestra.

Many other camps were offered, such as algebra prep and boot camp, high school classes and English language learner programs. In all camps, supplies, transportation, food service and area field trips or professional visits were provided by the school system.

Robust summer programs are signs of excellence for a school district. ACPS continued this summer to provide for our community. Every student succeeds with the focus ACPS has placed on support and services for students year-round. I would be remiss if I didn’t also point out the unsung he- roes throughout the district, like the facilities division. Their team is now in every school overseeing regularly scheduled and unscheduled maintenance projects. ACPS has scheduled over 45 summer projects to get ready for the first day of school.

Additionally, officials are working hard to advance our larger building projects, like the Patrick Henry School rebuild, the planned centralized pre- school center and a new elementary school. Bus drivers, mechanics and the rest of the transportation team is readying our fleet and ensuring the safety of our students.

Food service is working all sum- mer long to provide breakfasts and lunches, as well as the general summer food program. All of these people behind the scenes are making an incredible difference in the lives of our students.

It takes a lot of people and coordination every day for our nearly 2,500 staff and more than 15,500 students to be supported. Every student succeeds when we all work toward the same goals. By the first day of school, ACPS will be ready for another wonderful year. And I believe our students will be too.

The writer is the chairwoman of the Alexandria City School Board.