May 2021 Newsletter

Dear Mason District Community,

Last Friday, Fairfax County Public Schools and the greater Fairfax County community celebrated the rededication of John R. Lewis High School which was an inspiring way to end a very difficult week for this country and our community. The Chauvin trial continued to serve as a reminder of the systemic injustices levied against our communities of color, and the opportunity to lift and celebrate a civil rights icon offered a sense of poetic justice and hope. I could not be more proud of the students – the Lewis Lancers – who are responsible for this ‘good trouble.’ 

More students continue to return to in-person instruction for 4 days a week. Currently, 84,963 students are attending in-person and 50,465 are attending four days per week. We are looking ahead to 5 days of in-person instruction in August.

It has been a busy time in Mason District as of late. The elementary schools in the Justice pyramid engaged in numerous community meetings during the third week of April to review and discuss boundary options to relieve the overcrowding at Glen Forest Elementary. The options presented were developed by the Facilities Department based on the community's feedback from March. Discussions are also taking place about the addition at Justice High School and additional information is included in this newsletter about the upcoming community meeting to engage stakeholders about the addition and the required parking. 

I value the input I receive from the Mason Community and am happy to address questions or concerns via email or phone. You can reach me by email at If you are interested in scheduling a phone call, please reach out to my assistant, Cristy Coffey, at to arrange a time.

I wish you all good health.


National Teacher Appreciation Week is May 3 - 7



May 3-7 is National Teacher Appreciation Week. During a very trying period in education, I want to acknowledge our teachers who are making a positive difference in the lives of students each and every day. Thank you for all that you do!



Budget Update

As the Fairfax County School Board Chair, I was the first speaker at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors first public hearing on the county executive’s Proposed FY 2022 Advertised Budget Plan on April 13. Some of the key points from my presentation include:

  • FCPS’ FY 2022 Advertised Budget is fiscally responsible and based on the most pressing needs of our system.
  • Fully funding the budget is critical to providing students with the increased academic and social-emotional support brought on by the pandemic.
  • A 3% requested compensation increase will recognize the extraordinary dedication of FCPS staff, who have gone above and beyond in supporting students and families this past year. 

Please view my remarks, summarizing our budget needs/ask for 2021-22.

Remaining Steps in the FY 2022 Budget Process:

  • May 4 - The County Board of Supervisors adopts FY 2022 budget, tax rates, and transfer to FCPS
  • May 4 - School Board Budget Work Session 
  • May 6 - FY 2022 Approved Budget presented to School Board
  • May 11 - School Board holds public hearings on FY 2022 Budget
  • May 12 - School Board holds public hearings on FY 2022 Budget (if needed)
  • May 18 - School Board Budget Work Session
  • May 20 - School Board adopts FY 2022 Approved Budget
  • July 1 - FY 2022 begins


Returning Strong in the Fall

FCPS is looking forward to five days of in-person instruction as the primary mode of learning for all FCPS students during the 2021-2022 school year. This is an expectation shared by the School Board, the Superintendent, the Commonwealth of Virginia, via Senate Bill 1303, and the CDC.

Fairfax County Public Schools believes that in-person learning is best for all students and is working towards that goal in fall. Staff anticipates additional changes in guidance before school resumes in August, which should help to support the goal of returning all students to 5 days in-person with appropriate health guidelines. FCPS staff is planning for a successful transition in the fall by addressing transportation and lunch, ordering tents, conducting screening and diagnostic testing pilots, creating master schedules and minimizing concurrent learning opportunities.


Rededication Ceremony of Lewis High School Honors Civil Rights Icon John R. Lewis

FCPS celebrated the rededication of John R. Lewis High School, the first high school in the nation to be named in honor of the late civil rights icon and congressman, on April 23. 

The Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously to remove the former name last July.

I was honored to speak at this historic occasion. View my remarks from the ceremony.


All Students to Be Virtual on June 8 Due to Democratic Primary Election

Tuesday, June 8, is the Democratic Primary Election. Because the Fairfax County Electoral Board and City of Fairfax Electoral Board will be using 165 school facilities as polling locations, June 8 will be a virtual synchronous learning day (no in-person classes) for students.

Get more information about the primary elections.


Class of 2021

Graduation Update

FCPS is pleased to announce that planning is underway for in-person graduations for the Class of 2021 between May 27 and June 12. Ceremonies will take place at various outdoor locations (school stadiums or Jiffy Lube Live) or at indoor FCPS venues for smaller groups. 

All graduation ceremonies will comply with the governor’s guidance which currently allows for the lesser of 30 percent or 5,000 outside and the lesser of 30 percent or 500 inside. Social distancing rules will still apply. Graduations will look slightly different than in previous years (pre-COVID), and more information will be released as details are finalized. The complete graduation schedule, including dates, times, and locations, is now available online.

Reissuing Diplomas and Transcripts by Request

Students who have undergone a gender change can request a replacement diploma with their new name using the process outlined below.

For alumni of schools that have been renamed, if so requested, FCPS can order a replacement diploma through our vendor with the new school name. 

Process for Requesting Updated Transcripts and replacement Diplomas for Alumni having undergone a Gender Changes

The amendment and update process for former students requesting updated transcripts and replacement diplomas is already established for alumni who have undergone a gender change. They are required to submit a letter requesting the change to IT Document Management.  (For students who have been out of FCPS for more than 5 years.)  For students who have been out of FCPS less than 5 years, they need to go back to their former school and request the amendment from the school.  As for the replacement diploma, the schools can do that or refer the request to IT Document Management.


Registration Now Open

Kindergarten Registration

It's time for FCPS Kindergarten registration for children who will be 5 years old on or by September 30. Visit the Kindergarten Registration webpage for more information.


PreK and Early Headstart Applications

FCPS PreK and Early Head Start is now accepting applications for School Year 2021-22.  Please watch this video to see if your 3 or 4 year old may qualify for PreK. Visit the webpage to apply online. For more information call 703-208-7900 or email:

FCPS PreK y Early Head Start ya está aceptando aplicaciones para el año escolar 2021-22. Por favor mire este video para ver si su hijo de 3 o 4 años puede calificar para PreK. Para aplicar en línea: Visit the webpage.

Para más información llame a la línea de español: 703-208-7901. Correo electrónico:

Register Now for E-IFTA and IFTA Summer Enrichment Programs

Registration is now open for the Elementary Institute for the Arts (E-IFTA) and Institute for the Arts (IFTA) Summer enrichment programs. All students are eligible for these opportunities. Elementary Institute for the Arts (for rising 3rd through 6th graders) and Institute for the Arts (for rising 7th through 12th graders) will be held July 6-30 at Robinson Secondary School from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Classes are offered every day related to dance, music, theater, and visual art. Both programs have fees, waivers are available for students eligible for free and reduced meals.  

For more information or to register, visit the Summer Learning webpage.

Student Athletics Face Mask Update

Face masks for all outside sports will no longer be required for athletes during times of physical exertion. This includes all Virginia High School League (VHSL) spring sports as well as fall sports that practice and play outdoors. Athletes must wear a mask during all other times when not engaged in physical exertion. This includes when on the sideline, going to and from practice, when huddled as a group during stoppage of play, or as stated, any time not actively engaged in physical exertion. Coaches and all others are always to wear a mask. All indoor sports and outdoor sports athletes coming indoors for practice will always be expected to wear a mask.  

VHSL’s specific guidance on masks currently is stated as: “participants should not be required to wear face coverings while actively engaged in workouts or competitions, however, athletes, coaches, and officials should wear masks to the greatest extent possible”. 

Please be aware these standards are subject to change based on community and FCPS health conditions and will be reviewed on a regular basis. It is important to continue to take all appropriate precautions to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

Summer Learning Opportunities

FCPS will offer summer learning support and opportunities to address the increased needs of students resulting from the pandemic. These optional opportunities will most likely target students who most need them. Visit the Summer Learning web page for more information about those opportunities will be available as plans are finalized. 

FCPS staff members will provide additional academic content and English language development support for our 36,000 English learners (ELs) this summer. 

  • Elementary and middle school ELs will participate in the division’s inclusive summer program to strengthen core mathematics and language arts skills.  All ELs ELP level 1 and 2 will be invited to participate. Additional ELs ELP level 3 and 4 will be invited based on identified needs.
  • High school ELs who failed a core academic course will participate in Credit Recovery. ESOL resource teachers will collaborate with content teachers to support ELs.
  • High school ELs who are ELP level 1 or SLIFE will be invited to participate in numeracy and literacy essentials based on need, for multiple weeks of math and literacy intervention.
  • All high school ELs ELP level 1-4 will be invited to participate in one hour of synchronous online learning with one hour of asynchronous reading, writing, and online assignments per week.
  • In addition, extended English Language Development (ELD) will be offered to all ELs ELP level 1-4 in elementary, middle, and high school who are not participating in a structured summer program. 

For any questions about the FCPS summer programs, email 

Summer Practice Books

In early June, Summer Practice Books will be mailed home to FCPS students in grades PreK-8, Special Education, and English Learners to provide suggested activities for students to support continued learning. Families who have opted-out of paper mailings from the division will only receive digital copies of the Summer Practice Books.

Eating Disorder Parent Information

Eating disorders are serious but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights. While no one knows for sure what causes eating disorders, a growing consensus suggests that it is a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. Eating disorders are not fads or phases, and can have serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships.

Eating disorders can develop or re-emerge at any age. Eating disorder specialists are reporting an increase in the diagnosis of children, some as young as five or six. Many eating disorder sufferers report that their thoughts and behaviors started much earlier than anyone realized, sometimes even in early childhood. Although most people report the onset of their eating disorder in their teens and young adulthood, there is some evidence that people are being diagnosed at younger ages.

In collaboration with the Fairfax County Health Department, FCPS is providing parents and guardians with more information. A letter and fact sheet have been translated and will be provided to families of all students grades five through twelve. Please contact your school if you have not received this notification.


Community Meeting on Justice High School Addition and Proposed Parking at Justice Park

School bond referendums from 2017 and 2019 funded planning and construction of a 46,000 square foot addition, including science labs at Justice High School. This necessary addition will alleviate the existing capacity concerns. There are currently 175 classroom teachers sharing 126 available classrooms. 

The essential addition scheduled to be constructed on the school property will reduce the number of parking spaces currently available (329) on the school site by 81. With the addition, FCPS will be able to accommodate 327 parking spots on-site and proposes 67 at the adjacent Justice Park. This would bring the total parking spaces to 394 (net gain of 65). Fairfax County regulatory review requires 750 parking spaces for the size of the school/building and FCPS requested a Parking Modification to provide reduced parking for the school site. The parking spaces at the park would be added in compliance with regulatory requirements (i.e. storm water).

No formal agreement between FCPS and the Fairfax County Park Authority has been finalized, but discussions regarding potential improvements to the park including a new basketball court, invasive species management program, and improvements to the outdoor classroom are ongoing.

FCPS has presented the proposed project at the Justice HS PTSA meetings, the Mason District Land Use Committee, and a community meeting. The next community meeting is scheduled for May 6 and will be jointly hosted by FCPS and Fairfax County Park Authority. 

May 6, 2021, at 7 p.m.
Meeting ID: 974 2254 3401; Meeting Passcode: 288932
Phone dial-in number: (877) 853-5257


Falls Church Renovation Update

The staff from the Office of Design and Construction provided an update on the renovation process at a community meeting on April 28, 2021. 

A timeline and artist renderings of the renovation can be found on the renovation webpage.


Food for Neighbors

On Saturday, April 24, I had the opportunity to participate in the Food for Neighbors event at Luther Jackson Middle School.

The neighborhoods surrounding Falls Church collected 5,876 pounds of food from 244 households!

Jackson Middle School is one of five collection sites for Food For Neighbors, a local grassroots organization that was created by a former PTA President at Herndon MS. She saw a need to help feed our middle school students, and has grown her organization into a formidable presence in NOVA for feeding families. This is the second year of collecting at this location that supports the families of Luther Jackson Middle School and Falls Church High School.

Food For Neighbors welcomes additional schools and volunteers to participate in the program. School staff and PTA representatives interested in bringing the program to their schools may send an email to

Volunteers may sign up to donate food, collect and sort food, etc. at

May is Bike Month


Bike Month has been celebrated since 1956 as a way to showcase the many benefits of bicycling and encourage more people to give biking a try. Fairfax County has an extensive network of both paved and natural surface bike trails. You can access a map to all the trails in Fairfax County here. Wednesday, May 5th is the official Bike to School Day.  You can register as a school, family or neighborhood. Plan your ride whether you ride to school, to a park or just within your neighborhood. Register for Bike to School Day here.

FCPS Seeks Input on Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Curriculum Policy

Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to educational equity in which every student thrives academically, socially, and emotionally. FCPS wants to empower students as the next generation of change leaders for a more just world. To achieve educational equity, FCPS will be analyzing and addressing the beliefs and policies that inform what is taught in schools. The school division will begin this process by revising the existing Controversial Issues Policy and developing a new Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy.   

Families and staff will be asked to participate in a survey seeking input on what should be included in the Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy. The survey will be sent to all families and staff in early May. In addition, FCPS will conduct a series of focus groups to gather perspectives and input of all stakeholders. 

FCPS is working with a consultant The Leadership Academy to support stakeholder engagement on the revision and development of these two curriculum policies. An update on the draft policy will be presented to the Fairfax County School Board in the summer. 

Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative

The Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative (VMPI) is a VDOE proposal to modernize and update Virginia’s mathematics curriculum in grades K-12 to align instruction with the essential knowledge and skills students need to succeed in the 21st-century economy.

The proposed mathematics standards would redefine mathematics learning pathways for students to address the knowledge, skills, experiences, and attributes that students must attain to be successful in college and/or the workforce and to be “life ready.”

VMPI is a proposal to update Virginia’s mathematics curriculum in grades K-12 to address the persistent achievement gaps that exist in math learning outcomes. Research studies have shown that replacing traditional mathematics high school sequences with an integrated approach can improve outcomes for students.   

A key component of VMPI is the shift from a traditional high school mathematics course sequence to an Integrated Mathematics course sequence. The content from Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 is not being eliminated by VMPI, but rather the content of these courses would be integrated into a progression of connected learning.

The VDOE is proposing that this model would encourage students to connect mathematical concepts and develop a much deeper and more relevant understanding of each concept. 

The resources provided by VDOE would include specific extension topics to allow students opportunities to delve deeper into the concepts that they are learning or to extend their learning into concepts that would not typically be covered in the mathematics curriculum. Additional course pathways would include engaging semester courses in statistics, data science, modeling, design, and logic, among others.

Any changes made to the Mathematics Standards of Learning would be scheduled for classroom level implementation in the 2025-2026 school year.

View the VDOE Diagram of Math Sequence of Courses and Opportunities.

Adult and Community Education (ACE)

Virtual Open House

Adult and Community Education (ACE) offers a wide variety of courses, certificate programs, and career training to adults and children. ACE proudly serves over 24,000 students and is one of the largest adult education, non-collegiate institutions in the nation. Most classes are supported by user fees and grants and are not funded from the FCPS operating budget. 

The ACE mission within the Fairfax County Public School system is to provide lifelong literacy and educational opportunities for residents of all ages through implementation of best academic and business practices.

Students and parents, join a virtual open house to learn about ACE programs. Choose from two open house evening events on June 1 & June 7, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Register here to attend.

Mason District Spotlight

science fair

Regional Science and Engineering Fair Winners

The 66th annual Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair virtually showcased over 200 high school science projects via recorded videos. Over 290 students presented their research projects in a wide variety of science and engineering fields. Projects were judged by over 300 professionals and 50 professional organizations and businesses. All the amazing projects these students presented can be found here.

Congratulations to the Mason District winners:

Annandale High School: Manha Alom, Cyrus Assadzadeh, Kennedy Beal, Armen Boghosian, Francesca Gabriel, Tejh Hardin, Aisha Ismael, Ferhan Jemal, Chelsi Lilli, Lauryn Mills, Andrew Nields, Anna Peters, Asia Pham, Saba Shaikh, Hoai-Nam Tong, Abraham Valencia

Edison High School: Franklin Escobar

Falls Church High School: Charles Duong

Justice High School: Lucy Ammon, Sam Belmar, James Doan, Sabrina Ehmann-Jones, Duaa Eldirdiri, Yabesra Ewnetu,  Ferdausy Hossain, Salma Hossain, Emily Rutherford, Mohtashin Talukder, Marley Thomas

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology: Irfan Nafi

Woodson High School: Collin Ollis, Lilie Puck-Karam, Mackenzie Pham

Thirteen Students Named Winners of

2021 National Merit Corporate-Sponsored Scholarships

Thirteen Fairfax County Public Schools students were selected to receive 2021 corporate-sponsored scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The students are part of a group of more than 1,000 National Merit finalists chosen to receive scholarships financed by corporations, company foundations, and other business organizations.

Congratulations to the winner from the Mason District:

Peter Costescu, TJHSST (computer engineering)

National Merit Raytheon Scholarship

See the list of 2021 National Merit Corporate-Sponsored Scholarship winners.


FCPS Students Selected for

2021 All-Virginia Band, Chorus, and Orchestra

One hundred eighty-five students from Fairfax County Public Schools high schools have been named to the 2021 All-Virginia Band, Chorus, and Orchestra. Students engaged in virtual sessions with composers and conductors April 23 and 24. A combined virtual performance will premiere in late May.

Congratulations to the students chosen from the Mason District:

Falls Church High School: Mariela Palencia (Chorus)

Justice High School: Andre Farkas (Band), Julia Short (Band)

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology: Prashanth Kumaran (Band), Evan Ling (Band), Mikhail Mints (Band), Serenna Semonsen (Orchestra)


Volunteers Needed

Join the Citizen’s Committee Supporting Passage of the 2021 School Bond Referendum

A citizen’s committee supporting the 2021 School Bond Referendum is forming and seeking volunteers. The committee’s general duties will be sharing information that supports passage of the bond to HOA boards, chambers of commerce, and other organizations; and distributing information electronically and in print. 

This is an organized, positive, and short-term way to support Fairfax County Public Schools. Along with the distribution of information, volunteers are invited to strategize on approaches and execution at 6 to 9 meetings between July and Election Day, November 2 in the Tyson’s Corner Area.

To be considered, please send a brief statement of interest to  my assistant, Ms. Coffey, at before May 31.


School Board Seeks Audit Committee Applicants

The Fairfax County School Board invites applications from community members interested in serving on the School Board Audit Committee. Applications will be accepted through May 16, 2021. Applicants must reside within the boundaries of Fairfax County or Fairfax City. The Board will be appointing one committee member for a term ending June 30, 2023. 

 Click here to get more information and submit an application. 

Subscribe to the FCPS Religious and Cultural Observances Calendar 

The Fairfax County School Board approved the 2021-22 school year calendar that is designed to recognize, respect, and honor the plurality of religious and cultural observances in Fairfax County. 

The school year calendar includes 15 religious and cultural observance dates that are recognized by FCPS.

Parents and community members can subscribe to have the dates sync with their Google, Outlook, or other online calendar applications. To do so, go to the Subscribe to Calendars web page and select Religious and Cultural Observances.

Attention, Mason District PTA/PTSA/PTO Presidents

Our next roundtable discussion is scheduled for 6 p.m. on May 26th. I am looking forward to continuing our dialogue. If you did not receive an invitation or have questions, please reach out to my assistant, Ms. Coffey, at

Upcoming Board Meetings

Regular School Board Meetings (Luther Jackson Middle School)

  • May 6, 2021 at 7 p.m.
  • May 20, 2021 at 7 p.m.

Work Sessions (virtual)

  • May 3, 2021 at 1 p.m.
  • May 4, 2021 at 11 a.m.
  • May 18, 2021 at 3 p.m.

Budget Public Hearings (virtual)

  • May 11, 2021 at 6 p.m.
  • May 12, 2021 at 6 p.m. (if needed)

All meetings will be broadcast live on Channel 99 (Verizon channel 11) and on the FCPS website. The meetings are recorded for future viewing and posted to the FCPS School Board YouTube page.

Visit the citizen participation webpage to sign up to speak at a regular meeting or public hearing.


Stop The Spread

The views contained within this newsletter reflect the views of the individual school board member who is the publisher of this newsletter and may not reflect the views of the Fairfax County School Board.

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