Former George Mason student Richard (Jack) Marsh passed away Wednesday morning from complications of an unidentified heart-lung ailment earlier this week. He was a loving son, grandson, nephew and cousin. A high school junior this year, Marsh was a well-known and loved member of the George Mason family.
On a giant card hanging in the hallway that will be sent to the Marsh family, junior and football teammate Connor Rhodes wrote he loved him like a brother. Senior Caleb Ross also wrote that Marsh was “the most selfless person I know.”
It wasn’t just the students who loved Marsh. Various staff around the school were also close to him. Staff member Chrisline Baldo said he was just friendly to everybody and even today she can still picture his smile and it “brightens everything up.” The Mason community has lost a wonderful, cheerful student.
Marsh was a quarterback on the fall 2009 varsity football team. He gave the game 110 percent and wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less. If he did well in a game, he found a way to tell everybody, even if it wasn’t directly saying it.
Students at Mason are gathering donations to purchase Marsh a varsity football jacket. Donations may be dropped off in the main office of GeorgeMasonHigh School. Marsh will forever be a Mustang and his memories will never fade away.
In lieu of flowers, contributions are gratefully accepted at
Hoops For Youth Foundation
10623 Jones Street Suite 101-A Fairfax, VA 22030
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, November 20 from 2:00-5:00 p.m. in the MaryEllenHendersonMiddle School gym.
Correction: The memorial for Richard Marsh will be in the George Mason auditorium on Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 2 p.m.
FCCPS School Board meeting review – November 8, 2011
The Falls Church City School Board met on Tuesday, November 8 for their monthly meeting. Here is a brief overview of the meeting:
The Board approved the annual legislative package to be sent to the state Senate. The package included information on physical education in elementary school, whether homeschooled students should be allowed to participate in school events, letting local school boards determine the first day of school, and not requiring seat belts on school buses.
Information about the expansion on TJ: estimated cost is $30 million; deadline is April 30, 2013
Requirements for the retirement health care plan.
The monthly budget for FCCPS has ended with a $384,000 surplus.
In Dr. Toni Jones Superintendent’s report, she mentioned how the artwork from all four FCCPS schools had brought life to Central Office through their artwork and that George Mason is partnering with NorthernVirginiaCommunity College by offering a course during the school day starting in the second semester.
The next School Board meeting will be on Tuesday, December 17 at 8:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the Falls Church City Hall.
Mason’s volleyball team is still young, but they are reaching for the top. With Coach Erik Healey winning First Team Coach of the Year, and junior Maddie Johnson winning First Team All District Honor, the Mustangs placed third for the season in the Bull Run district. This is the highest Mason volleyball has ever placed.
Johnson was announced as the First Team All District Honor winner on Friday, November 4. This honor came after Johnson won Second Team All District last season. When all of the Bull Run district coaches were deliberating on who should be honored, Johnson’s name constantly came up.
Coach Healey said, “She’s smart on the court and is constantly aware of what’s going on.”
Other coaches from the district have said that she is a very good player all around and she has a lot of confidence her in game. Healey said she should be very proud of her accomplishments and continue to always strive to be better.
Coach Healey was recognized as the Coach of the Year on Monday, November 7. Healey started as the assistant coach in 2010 and then moved to head coach this season. Healey is passionate about being a coach and he always wants the team to strive for a win.
Sean Gallagher, a British photojournalist and videographer, will be coming to George Mason to talk to students about experiences that he’s had in his field of work. Topics will range from basic photojournalism all the way to science related topics. All students are encouraged to attend the discussion with Gallagher on Tuesday, November 8 at 3:05 in the TLC.
He is visiting Mason under a grant from the Pulitzer Center in D.C. Gallagher works in the forests of southwest China which are one of the world’s top 10 most threatened forest regions. According to the Pulitzer , “unchecked logging, mining, and development have put the country's mountain canopies and the people and animals who depend on them in harm's way.”
“Gallagher's photographs and videos present a compelling yet underreported view of the ecosystems of inland China. His passionate environmental message will give students an appreciation for the stakes in China and the implications for life in their own backyards.”
Graduating from high school and starting college can be a difficult time for many students, but a recent partnership between NorthernVirginiaCommunity College and FallsChurchCityPublic Schools has made it easier. With the new Pathways to the Baccalaureate program in addition to the new political science course that will be taught this spring, seniors can get a head start on college without paying a penny.
The Pathway to the Baccalaureate program is designed to help seniors transition from high school into college. According the NVCC website, the Pathway program is a “combination of straightforward, commonsense elements that together form a structured support system for students” that plan to attend a four-year college. The only thing a student has to do to apply for the program is either see his or her guidance counselor or see the NOVA counselor here at Mason on Thursdays in room E119 to ask for an application. The only requirement to be accepted to the program is to have a desire to attend college
The other NOVA opportunity at Mason is a political science duel-enrollment course. PLS 211 is open to any junior or senior who has an open block in their schedule. It will be taught during the school day and students will earn both high school and college credit for taking this course. Like the Pathway to the Baccalaureate program, this course is also highly recommended because it is a required course for many colleges and students get to take it for free which can save hundreds of dollars.
To sign up, students should ask their guidance counselor for the Political Science registration form. Forms are due no later than November 11.
The first Virginia gun shop inside the beltway opening its doors has led to many mixed reactions from Falls Church citizens. NOVA Firearms is located right above Bito’s on Broad Street, across from Famous Dave’s. The week following its opening on October 3, many citizens wrote to the Falls Church News Press editor with concerns that a new gun shop will bring violence to the city. However, in the October 13 edition of the News Press, a Falls Church citizen wrote it is “just another business” and we should not treat them any differently.
Another concern of Falls Church citizens is the risk of guns being brought into the school system. In an email from Falls Church City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones, the gun shop is a legal business and it “does not heighten our concern- or make it easier- for students to bring weapons to school.”
If a student does bring a weapon to school, however, standard School Board policies and Virginia state laws will be enforced. Jones later said that if somebody is seen in possession of a gun within 1,000 feet of any FCCPS property, Falls Church City Police will be called immediately to have the person processed according to the legal system
On a personal note, I don’t see anything wrong with having a gun shop in the Little City. The business is only trying to earn an honest living by selling guns. It doesn’t break any laws and in order to purchase a gun in the state of Virginia, you have to be at least 18 years old so that eliminates chances of most students bringing weapons to school. In addition, there has not been much gun violence in the city over the past several years which means citizens are smart about gun safety and keeping them out of the hands of the wrong people.
Any questions or concerns about gun laws as they relate to FCCPS may be directed Jones directly by emailing
. Questions and concerns my also be directed to FCCPS Facilities Supervisor Seve Padilla by email at
The William Monroe High Dragons (2-2) will be playing the Mustangs (1-6) tonight at the Homecoming football game at 7:30 p.m. In addition to Homecoming, tonight is also Senior Night where students will be celebrating their seniors.
Make sure to come show support for the Mustangs, the Mason seniors, and for the Homecoming Court winners. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Moore Cadillac Stadium.
Getting hit by a car in the parking lot at school is one of the things that might never cross your mind but, there have been several close calls over the years in the GMHS and MEHMS parking lots. To help eliminate this fear, a safety gate as been installed that prohibits cars from entering the parking lot along Route 7.
In an email sent out to all staff members by FCCPS Security and Facilities Coordinator Seve Padilla, starting on Friday, October 14, 2011, the gates will, “only be closed during school hours (8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.). All other times it will be open unless otherwise noted. This might vary slightly with bus schedules and activities.”
This will allow for parents to use this entrance to pick up and drop off their children; however, it is still illegal for drivers traveling west on Route 7 to make the right turn into the parking lot.
According to Padilla, VDOT “installed those signs to prevent a long back up. If we had parents making a right turn into the parking lot to drop off their students at MEH, then traffic would back up all the way to Haycock.”
It is also still illegal for drivers to make a left turn while exiting the Route 7 entrance. “Every now and then police will hide there and give people a ticket” explained Padilla.
There is nothing worse than getting a hefty ticket when you only wanted to drop your student off at school.
The safety gate is not part of the Safe Routes to School plan which will make it safer for students to eventually walk to the middle school, but the installation of it will help reinforce the plan when it goes into effect in the coming years. If you have any questions, you are urged to contact Seve Padilla at
Where will you be 50 years from now? The George Mason class of 1961 thought they would never see their 50th reunion come, it was just too far away. But on September 23-25, it became a reality. At the Courtyard Marriot in Tysons Corner, about 65 graduates came together to celebrate their achievement and to reflect on their memories.
Pamela Clark, organizer of the event, said “It’s great to be able to see everybody and catch up on everything.” Another graduate from 1961 said he never thought he would see his 50th reunion come.
The event was filled with action. Friday evening consisted of a cocktail hour. Saturday night was the main event with a celebration, dinner, and games. All the festivities came to a close on Sunday afternoon with a picnic atCherry Hill Park with sandwiches from Jason’s Deli.
If you’ve walked through the hallway near the main gym recently, you might notice something different: a new vending machine next to a black box. That’s right! Mason is getting new vending machines… again.
Richard Kane, FCCPS Food Service Coordinator, said the reason behind the new machines is to “supplement the ones we already had that didn’t work very well.”
Yes, he is referring to the new ones we got just last year. They would often times eat a hungry student’s money or the food would simply just get stuck.
As for the black boxes next to the vending machine, Kane also said those are vending machines but “they were stocked with the wrong product. They weren’t supposed to come with candy.” Until the correct snacks are stocked, they will remain facing the wall.
For those of us who have been down near the TLC, you might have also noticed new vending machines in that part of the school. This isn’t the first time there has been one down there. Up until 2008, students could find a Coca-Cola vending machine at the bottom of the steps leading down to TLC but it was removed in an effort to eliminate unhealthy food from school. These machines have been placed here not only for students who have classes in that part of the building, but also to serve those “groups who hold events in the TLC” according to Kane.
In addition to these new vending machines, students will be saving a bit of money.
“I’ve dropped the price of chips from $1.25 to $1.00 just to make things easier. And Gatoraid and Poweraid will cost $2.00” said Kane when asked if the rising costs of food will have an impact on the price of the snacks.
If vending machine patrons have any comments, questions, or even suggestions for new snacks, Mr. Kane wants to hear from you.
“Building a Healthier You” video contest announced
Attention all video makers! Now’s your chance to show off your video producing skills with this year’s “Building a Healthier You
sponsored by FCCPS Food Services. Students must be enrolled at George Mason High School or Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School to be eligible and have until January 26 to submit their video. If you have any questions, feel free to ask Mr. Richard Kane, GMHS’s food services coordinator.
Here are the official rules:
A teacher can only serve as an advisor. Only one person can be responsible for each video and win the grand prize. Schools can have more than one individual/team enter the video contest. No professional assistance can be provided to produce this video in any manner.
Each entry must be the original work of the student or group of students submitting the video. It may not contain copyrighted material, such as popular songs, magazine cutouts, music videos, etc..., unless permission has been granted for its use. Use of copyrighted material without permission automatically disqualifies the entry.
All videos must be submitted to
and put "Building a Healthier You" in the subject line. All entries must contain the student's name, grade, student contact information and school along with the photo release forms.
While the videographer retains ownership and copyright of the videos, entry of your video in the contest gives the FCCPS Contest the right to reproduce and display the video and stills from the video for promotional and educational purposes.
In addition to these guidelines, FCCPS Contest rules apply. The FCCPS Contest reserves the right to deny awards to the creator(s) of the winning video(s) if contest rules or guidelines are not followed or if information on the registration form and the Potential Winner's Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability Release are found to be incomplete or inaccurate.
The school video contest aims to reinforce among Falls Church City Public students the importance of healthy living by challenging them to create healthy TV-type advertisements. The video advertisements will help to increase awareness in Falls Church City of the link between the national obesity epidemic and high rates of chronic disease, often the result of poor lifestyle choices. The ultimate goal of the school video contest is to further educate Falls Church City children of the need to live well and to prevent chronic disease
“Put it away. If I see it again it’s mine.” We’ve all heard teachers say this, but with the new Personal Electronic Device Classroom Permission Levels posted in the front of every classroom, this phrase might become a thing of the past.
This past summer, staff members at George Mason reviewed cell phone usage policy. Mr. Tim Guy, an Assistant Principal involved in creating the new policy said the old policy was “always off and away. There are times though when this might not be the best policy.”
Guy later went on to say “There are times when students might have to use their phones. Like to add homework to their calendar or to text their parents to ask if they can do something after school.”
Seeing this conflict, a new system was created. There are five levels that each teacher may control. Secure, off and away, limited permission, specific use encouraged, and open use. Most teachers keep the off and away level, but may change it if cell phone use can enrich the lesson or so students can add homework to their calendar.
There has been some confusion among students as to the difference between “secure” and “off and away.” When the secure level is in effect, cell phones must be turned off and not in the students’ possession. This means the teacher can collect them to put in a basket or if there are cubbies in the room, they might require students to put phones in their backpacks and then put them in the cubbies.
During the off and away level, the student may have their phone in their possession but they must be turned off. If a phone is seen, they teacher may ask the student to put it away and/or take it and turn it into the main office.
This is the first year of adopting a flexible policy that teachers have control over and it is still a work in progress. If it fails, the school may adopt something else. If it works, then it will stay.
Parents got to relive the school experience going from class to class on last Thursday evening during Back to School Night. Even though it was a shortened day, only two hours long, parents and guardians navigated the building finding each of their student’s seven classes.
One mother said “it was like a big maze. So many people. My son’s homeroom was
in the A wing, first block was in the D wing, and now I’m going back to the A wing for science.”
She wasn’t the only one getting lost however, the majority of the parents needed assistance finding their way around the building.
Senior Jack Webster who photographed the event said “I’ve had so many people ask me for directions. It’s crazy.”
At the end of the night however, everybody ended up finding their way around and all the parents got to meet their children’s teachers and get a peek at what they will be doing in class.
The Falls Church City School Board met last night for their bi-monthly meeting. Here are a few of the top items that were discussed:
An audit performed by Brown, Edwards, & Company showed the Falls Church City Public Schools School Activity Funds ended with $365,708 in the black at the end of the 2011 fiscal year.
Student enrolment has increased 4% as of September 12, 2011.
A motion was passed for Chairman Pat Riccards to sign the letter to support a piece of Virginia legislation for a safe and fair workplace for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees of the Commonwealth.
The next School Board meeting will be on Tuesday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the Falls Church City Hall.
Ten years after the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked, and a plane went down in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the Mason community remembers those who lost their lives.
The Young Patriot’s Club, a new club this school year founded by junior James Hickey, put together a memorial assembly attended by the entire school on Friday. After a short movie with interviews from those who survived 9-11, a guest speaker from the U.S. government spoke a few words. He thanked all the first responders who rushed to keep us safe and reminded us that another attack could happen at any time without notice.
With the official ten year anniversary today, we should all personally give a local law enforcement officer, firefighter, government worker, or member of the armed forces a big thank you for all their service.
Hoards of rising eighth graders crowded the Mason halls on Wednesday as they began their orientation process. The halls of Mason can be confusing, but the Mustang Ambassadors assisted the new Mustangs to acclimate and get acquainted to their new school.
In this video, Mustang Ambassador sponsor Ms. Naftzinger, librarian Ms. Mykelstad (formerly Johnson), attendance secretary Ms. Savage, School Resource Officer Rau, and eighth grade English teacher Mr. Laub, make recommendations and pass on advice to the eighth graders.