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“We hope our students leave our school with discovered passions and realized potential”

Dave Goldfarb, principal of Fairfax High School, delivered his eighth state of the schools report to the City of Fairfax School Board on Monday, March 6, 2017. Mr. Goldfarb highlighted student achievement, discussed FHS “Project Aware” efforts to support students’ emotional development and welcomed English as a Second Language (ESOL) department chair Carrie Zill to explain the changes in ESOL programming. The presentation concluded with Principal Goldfarb welcoming Sydney Suarez, City of Fairfax School Board student representative to discuss the Student Advisory Committee.

Fairfax High School welcomes over 2400 students from over 87 countries that speak more than 60 languages. Along with 200 staff members, Principal Goldfarb said FHS is dedicated to provide students with a wide range of opportunities to grow and thrive. This year, FHS offered new courses such as animation, applied calculus, broadcast journalism and Arabic.

Principal Goldfarb highlighted recent student achievement such as the eight-year consecutive conference champion field hockey team, the nationally recognized DECA (marketing) team, sending 20 science fair projects to regional competition, the Forensic team conference champions, student artists with the most Scholastic awards in Northern Virginia and the theater program which recently won third place in a state competition.

Fairfax High School is in its second year of “Project Aware”, a grant program along with four other FCPS schools to offer emotional support to students. This year Project Aware is allowing FHS teachers and administrators get quicker access for students to local psychiatric professionals. In addition, FHS staff members are being trained to help students recognize and identify emotions that may be interfering with their academic and social success. “Emotions often serve as barriers or boosters to our achievements in learning even we don’t want to acknowledge them,” said Goldfarb. “Being in touch and control with our emotions leads to overall effectiveness, health and performance.”

ESOL Department Chairman Carrie Zill presented the school board the updates in the ESOL programming. In the past, ESOL students had a difficult time graduating in four years because they were unable to take courses until they passed English proficiency levels. Now students are able to simultaneously work on their proficiency while also taking courses such as Government and English 9 that opens a four-year pathway to graduation. The courses have the same standards, but the instruction is differentiated to the student’s level of English understanding. Zill, a 2002 FHS graduate thinks the changes will be beneficial to students. “The new course programming offers students opportunity to take and earn graduation-required credits much earlier.”

Principal Goldfarb concluded his presentation by discussing his work with the Student Advisory Committee. The twenty-member committee now in its seventh year, is designed to provide the administration with a variety of student voices about a wide range of topics. School Board Student Representative and four-year committee member Sydney Suarez talked about her experience. “It sets a really good tone. I leave the meeting with a lot of new insight and it gives a unique way of giving the administration information about what students are feeling,” said Suarez.

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