Year as 9-12 High School
60 New Students,
25 New Staff Members Are
By Rabita Aziz (September 10, 2004)
Twenty-five new teachers and paraprofessionals--out of a total of 108 faculty members, greeted the now 660-strong student body, including 60 new students, at the annual Opening Day Assembly last Tuesday. This assembly marked the last first-day-of-school ceremony which would be only toward grades 9-12 students. This time next year, Mason will be an 8-12 high school, forever changing the grade alignments in the city’s schools.
This time next year, the imposing structure located on the former tennis and basketball courts, which seems to have sprung out of the ground over the summer, will be complete. Students from the fifth through seventh grades will occupy the new long awaited middle school.
The hope is that the creation of the new middle school will alleviate the growing issue of overcrowding within the Falls Church City Public Schools. This overcrowding could be witnessed in the auditorium, where the house was packed like never before. Long-time English teacher Michael Hoover, who has taught at Mason for 35 years, said, "I’ve never seen the auditorium so packed for an assembly."
According to Principal Bob Snee, this year’ student body is the largest "in decades." Snee termed this year "a historic year, because it’s our last year as a 9-12 school. Throughout this year, just as we did throughout last semester, we’ll be continuing to plan for the 8-12 school we’re going to become. We’re going to be in the best position we can be in for August, because our most important goal is for every student, grades 8-12, to feel welcome, comfortable, and challenged in their new school. But, in the meantime, we’re not going to lose sight of our goals for this school year,"
The population increase coupled with the construction has also had an impact on parking. Underclassmen almost definitely will not be allowed to park on campus and currently, a survey is being conducted to determine if there are enough parking spots for faculty before selling permits to seniors. If there are not enough spots for the seniors, a lottery may need to be held.
The next week of school will be unique and energized as Friday will see scores of students participate in the annual grounds day, followed by free refreshments provided by Moore Cadillac, followed by the first-ever night football game. For the first time in the school’s history, the stadium now has lights, also partly made possible by the generosity of Moore Cadillac which provided approximately one-third of the total cost of installing the lights. A dance in the GM Café will follow the game.
Today, 23 exchange students from Chile, accompanied by their teachers, arrived for a two-week long visit. A picnic in their honor will take place this coming Sunday and the students will be hosted by Mason students who visited Chile last spring.
Many seniors, anticipating the new system, are already planning to share parking passes, that cost $50 a semester, with two or three students chipping in for a pass. Parking problems aside, a couple of pieces of good news are that the tennis courts have been rebuilt, and the building of the new middle school is on schedule.
Several important activities preceded opening week.
These words concerning the new school and the current year were expressed last Thursday at a special luncheon for teachers held in the Senior Courtyard, where Principal Snee presided as Grill Master Snee. This special luncheon was one of many events held last week in preparation of the new school year. Another event which took place last week was the new student orientation, in which the over 60 new students were welcomed by Masonites. Last week’s events were only a prelude to the back-to-school events that will take place over the next two months.
A unique Olympic-theme assembly was held yesterday, complete with the wreath adorned Mustang Sally running a course through the auditorium to present school president Alex Nette with the Mason Olympic torch. This was followed by a special slideshow of the many Olympic champions representing the United States at Athens this summer. The gold medal champion women’s beach volleyball team and gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps were met by very enthusiastic applause from their adoring male and female fans. The assembly continued along the Olympic path with several Masonites coming up on stage to voice their various achievements. Then, students watched the struggles and achievements of Mason’s own champion Robotics team in a special video.
SCA Secretary Emily Walden also informed the student body of the many activities that will take place at school in the following weeks. The first three events will take place on Friday, September 17, starting off with the annual Grounds Party right after school. This year, the students will be adorning the football field and track by weaving a special message into the fence. Moore Cadillac will provide free refreshments to students as well. Later on that night, after a historic football game, the Back-To-School Dance will be held in the Mustang Café. The Chilean exchange students, arriving on Friday, September 10 and leaving on the 24th, will be able to take part in these Friday festivities and see first hand the activities offered to American teens by their high schools. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to stick around for Homecoming Week to witness the competition between the classes, which will be held the week of October 18-24.
Of course, how could the Opening Day Assembly be complete without singing and dancing teachers? Although there were a few technical difficulties, new and old teachers alike rocked the house to the Beatles song "A Hard Day's Night". Some students not only walked away with the images of Michael Phelps, Misty May, Kerry Walsh, and their teachers dancing on stage, but also with gift certificates to various places. New SCA advisors Christine Bosl and Karin Tooze randomly chose names of students for these door prizes, who won gift certificates to Applebee’s, Stacey’s, Starbuck’s, and more.
The first day of school wasn’t all fun and games though, because although the parking situation went well in the morning, senior advisors later informed seniors that they all won’t be able to find parking everyday in the school parking lots. If you haven’t noticed, the new middle school is taking shape out where the former tennis and basketball courts were, which means that last year was the final year that underclassmen could drive to school and park in the Mason lots. So many seniors are planning to drive to school that there will most likely be some kind of lottery for parking spaces for the now shared senior lot, which is being shared with faculty members.
Another new and exciting aspect of this school year involves not only the school but the entire Falls Church community. Coach Tom Horn expressed the fact that perhaps the culture of the City will alter because now we’re going to have night football games under the new lights. The first home game under the lights will be held at 7:30 on Friday, September 17. The games under the lights will be a chance for the entire community to congregate, and have a good time while cheering their Mustangs on. For this first game, one of the sponsors and perhaps the main contributors for the lights, Moore Cadillac, will go all out, providing great free food for the attendees, and not your typical hotdogs and cokes either. Moore Cadillac will also cover the admission for everyone who decides to attend, meaning free admission and food.
It is clear that the 2004-2005 school year will be both exciting and different, with such a large student body and so many changes occurring on campus. But even under all the different circumstances, it’s sure to be a "fun, challenging, and exciting" school year, according to Grill Master Snee.
Tell us what you think. E-mail email@example.com