News Items for Use in School, Department, and Office Newsletters and Other FCPS Publications

These articles are provided as a service from the Office of Communication and Community Relations. They can be used in any FCPS or PTA publication. For more information or to suggest an article idea, contact the curator below. This page is updated monthly during the school year.

Note: If you would like to be notified when new content has been added to this page, sign up to receive information from the News You Choose system and select the Newswire option. (NEW!)

This is the final update for the 2015-16 school year. Updates will resume in the fall. Have a great summer!

New Articles for June:

Recent Articles and Articles of Continuing Interest:

Articles of Year-Round Interest


Fairfax County School Board Adopts 2016-17 School Year Budget

The Fairfax County School Board has adopted the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) FY 2017 Approved Budget of $2.7 billion, which includes a salary increase of a step and one percent market scale adjustment for all eligible employees, $40 million to enhance teacher salaries and make them more competitive, and more than $10 million to lower elementary school class sizes. The FY 2017 Approved Budget takes effect July 1. 

The FY 2017 budget includes an increase in the County transfer to the School Operating Fund of 4.8 percent above the FY 2016 Approved Budget as well as an increase of 3.8 percent, or $22.3 million, in state aid and sales tax, and $6.7 million in reductions from enrollment as compared to the FY 2016 Approved Budget. The FY 2017 budget recognizes compensation base savings of $19.1 million due to employee turnover and fuel savings of $2 million. Investments of $2.2 million to replace some of FCPS’ aging buses are included in the FY 2017 budget, as well as $13.8 million to cover health insurance increases and $14.7 million to cover retirement rate increases.

The Board identified additional reductions to balance the budget, including adjusting substitute pay rates by eliminating the differential substitute pay for retired teachers, funding the living wage for food service employees via the Food and Nutrition Services Fund, and implementing additional central department operating account reductions. Balancing the budget also required the use of one-time funds.

“We are sincerely appreciative of the efforts of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors,” says School Board Chair Pat Hynes. “Working together, we were able to secure the funding necessary to make critical investments in teacher pay, reduce the size of some classes in our elementary schools, and maintain our instructional programs and services to our students. We sincerely want to thank the members of the community who rallied to call for increased support for their students, teachers, and schools.

“This budget is the first one in nine years that does not include difficult cuts to the FCPS operating budget,” she adds. “It enables us to begin the process of rebuilding the school division.”

“I am hopeful that this budget represents a turning point for our schools,” says Superintendent Karen K. Garza. “This reinvestment in our community’s most important asset will provide great dividends for all the citizens of Fairfax. We are already looking ahead to FY 2018, and will continue to work as partners with the Board of Supervisors to solve these vital challenges for our community.” 

Additional budget details are available at http://www.fcps.edu/news/fy2017.shtml.

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Calendar Reminder: Last Day of 2015-16 School Year Is June 23

As a reminder, the last day of the 2015-16 school year is June 23 and students will be dismissed early. Check with your child's school for its individual dismissal time.

Note: The 2016-17 school year will begin on Tuesday, September 6, and end on Friday, June 23, 2017. See the 2016-17 school year calendar at http://www.fcps.edu/about/16-17cal.shtml.

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Final 2016 Summer Programs Registration Deadlines Approaching   

Registration will close on June 24 for the following FCPS summer programs:

  • Elementary Institute for the Arts (E-IFTA)—E-IFTA will be held July 11-22 at Lake Braddock Secondary School from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. E-IFTA is an arts camp for students currently in grades 3-5 who love to sing, dance, act, perform, and create. Students rotate through eight classes in the areas of dance, music, theatre, and visual art.

  • Tech Adventure Camp—This program will be held July 25-August 5 at Lake Braddock Secondary School from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for students currently in grades 5-7. This camp allows students to explore careers and technology by rotating through eight areas including graphic design, automotive technology, culinary arts, robotics, and computer technology. 

  • Summer Online Campus—New and repeat online high school courses for high school students and middle school students who meet the prerequisites. Health and Physical Education (9 and 10) and Geometry Honors run July 5-August 5; Algebra Head Start runs July 25-July 29; other courses run July 5-August 2.

Registration will close on July 5 for the following FCPS summer programs:

  • Credit Recovery Academy—For students in grades 9-12 who are repeating a class and are seeking credit for high school level courses. This program will be held at Stuart High School, West Potomac High School, and Herndon High school. Courses run July 11-29. Registration is open until July 5.

  • SOL Remediation—For middle and high school students who have passed a high school level course and need to pass the SOL test. Held at Stuart High School, West Potomac High School, and Herndon High School from July 11-29.

  • SOL Test Only—For FCPS seniors who plan to graduate by the end of August and passed an SOL course but failed the SOL test. Students in Grade 11 English during the 2015-16 school year may register for the writing test. The non-writing tests in reading, math, science, and social studies will be held July 29 and writing will be held July 18-21.

Visit http://www.fcps.edu/is/summer/ for information about all FCPS Summer Learning Programs. Register for summer programs online by visiting https://aceclasses.fcps.edu/.  

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2016 FCPS Outstanding Employee Award Winners

Excellence in leading schools, teaching students, and providing support is what Fairfax County Public Schools is all about. The Department of Human Resources sponsors recognition of outstanding performers as they seek to create and demonstrate the best instructional and support practices.

The winners of this year's awards are:

  • Outstanding Principal: Justine Klena, principal, Herndon Middle School. Klena is also a finalist for the Washington Post 2016 Principal of the Year award.
  • Outstanding Teacher: Corey Thornblad, teacher, Kilmer Middle School. Thornblad is also a finalist for the Washington Post Teacher of the Year award.
  • Outstanding Support Employees: Juan (Cesar) Carrasco, assistant building supervisor, Willow Springs Elementary School; Emily Godfrey, librarian, Twain Middle School; and Jim Lepp, producer-director, Multimedia Services, at Sprague Center.
  • Outstanding First-Year Principal: Paul Basdekis, principal, Riverside Elementary School.
  • Outstanding First-Year Teacher: Lauren Armentrout, second grade teacher, Graham Road Elementary School.
  • Outstanding Leader Award: Holly DeVore, assistant principal, Oak Hill Elementary School; John Dooley, coordinator of network and system services, Department of Information Technology, Wilton Woods Center; and Deborah Jackson, special projects administrator, Department of Human Resources, Gatehouse Administration Center.
  • Outstanding Hourly Employee: Gisele Gray, parent liaison interpreter, Mount Vernon High School.

Thank you to the FCPS parents, students, community members, and staff members who nominated an employee for one of this year's awards.

For more information on this year's award winners, go to http://www.fcps.edu/hr/programs/recognition/outstanding-employee-awards.shtml.

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FCPS, Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools Recognize 2016 Outstanding Business, Community Partners

Fairfax County Public Schools and the Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools, the philanthropic arm of the school system, have named Northrop Grumman Corporation as the 2016 Outstanding Business Partner, and Kids R First as the 2016 Outstanding Community Partner. Representatives from both organizations were recognized at FCPS Honors, a ceremony for the winners of FCPS employee awards, by Superintendent Karen K. Garza.

Northrop Grumman was recognized for more than 25 years of support to Chantilly Academy—A Governor’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Academy, and Chantilly High School, for providing professionals who volunteer their time to work with students, and via donations and grants totaling more than $50,000 since 2009.

Kids R First began helping students in need start school with the necessary supplies in 1995 when retired FCPS teacher and Reston FISH volunteer Susan Ungerer noticed an increase in requests for financial assistance at the start of the school year.  Kids R First incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1998 and, since then, has provided students with more than $6 million (retail value) in school supplies to students whose families demonstrate financial need.

Learn more at http://commweb.fcps.edu/newsreleases/newsrelease.cfm?newsid=3012.

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Police Officer Darrell Estess Named FCPS 2016 Distinguished School Resource Officer

Police Officer Darrell Estess, who serves as the school resource officer at Oakton High School, has been named the 2016 Fairfax County Public Schools Distinguished School Resource Officer. 

“Picture hundreds of Mosby Woods Elementary School students walking into the doors of Oakton High School, each one greeted by a welcome and high-five from Officer Estess to ease their minds after their unexpected school evacuation earlier this month,” said the members of the Oakton High administrative team in their nomination letter, adding that one of the SRO’s strengths includes positive daily interactions with students in an effort to build a sense of citizenship.

Estess is praised for supporting students both in and out of the classroom; this past fall, he helped arrange a ride-along with police officers from the Fair Oaks District for students interested in law enforcement. He provides walking safety tips for students who walk to school or the bus stop, offers information to prevent distracted driving, supports anti-bullying campaigns, provides drug abuse awareness, and supports the school’s Drive Smart campaign and seat belt checks. Administrators cite his assessment of the best locations for interior and exterior cameras as being instrumental to the success of that program in the 2015-16 school year.

Learn more at http://commweb.fcps.edu/newsreleases/newsrelease.cfm?newsid=3005.

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Book Your Summer Reading Incentive Program Begins June 27

Book Your Summer is a new program that builds a community of readers in FCPS, and will run from June 27 to September 7. Similar to a Bingo game, students who will be in grades 1-12 in the 2016-17 school year are encouraged to spend the summer reading using the READ! activity card as a guide. Students successfully participate if they achieve a “READ!” of their choice across the card in any direction.

Participants at each school will qualify for a chance to win school prizes, including $50 in books of their choice or a laptop computer.

Suggested summer reading lists:

Note: A rising student is one that will be starting that grade in the new school year. For example, a rising tenth grader is one who completed the ninth grade in school year 2015-16 and will be a tenth grader in the 2016-17 school year.

Learn more at http://www.fcps.edu/is/book/.

Good Books at Fairfax County Public Libraries

The Fairfax County public libraries have lists of many good books for readers of all ages. To access this information, go to http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/reading/.

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Fifty-Two Fairfax County Public Schools Earn 2016 Virginia Index of Performance Awards

Fifty-two Fairfax County public schools have earned a 2016 Virginia Index of Performance (VIP) award for advanced learning and achievement from Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Virginia Board of Education. The awards recognize schools and divisions that exceed minimum state and federal accountability standards and achieve excellence goals established by the governor and the board.

Learn more at http://commweb.fcps.edu/newsreleases/newsrelease.cfm?newsid=2991.

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Share Your Graduation or Promotion Ceremony Photos on Twitter or Facebook

FCPS parents, students, and staff members are invited to share their favorite pictures from this year's graduation or promotion ceremonies on Twitter and Facebook by using the hashtag #fcpsgrad16.

We will retweet some of the photos on the FCPS Twitter page, found at www.twitter.com/fcpsnews, and share some of the photos on the FCPS Facebook page, found at www.facebook.com/fcpsva.

The 2016 FCPS graduation schedule is available online at http://www.fcps.edu/news/grad.shtml.

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Recommended Family Life Education Instructional Materials Available for Community Review Through June 24

Fairfax County Public Schools is soliciting public review and comment on instructional materials (media, print, and lesson objectives) under consideration for Family Life Education (FLE). Recommendations affect grades 9, 10, 11, and students with low incidence disabilities in grades 3-10.

FLE instructional materials may be accessed through Friday, June 24, for public review and comment at http://www.fcps.edu/is/hpe/fle.shtml. Because of copyright permissions, not all materials are available online. Media titles and the recommended books are available during the comment period at all high schools during regular school hours. Community members are asked to schedule an appointment with the librarian at the high school to view materials.

Citizens can submit their comments on the recommendations via e-mail to FLEcomments@fcps.edu. The comment period continues through close of business on June 24. All comments received during the comment period will be shared with School Board members prior to their vote on the recommendations Thursday, June 30.   

For more information, call the Office of PreK-12 Curriculum and Instruction, Health, Family Life, and Physical Education at 571-423-4550.

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FCPS Cares: An Opportunity to Recognize an Employee for Going Above and Beyond

FCPS Cares is an opportunity for parents, students, colleagues, and community members to recognize Fairfax County Public Schools employees who do ordinary things in extraordinary ways or who go beyond what is expected. Tell us about an employee who shows that FCPS Cares by going to http://www.fcps.edu/supt/fcpscares/.

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FCPS Football Players Seeing Significant Reductions in Concussions and Other Injuries

Data released recently on concussion and injury prevention programs used in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) athletic programs since 2013 show the education-based approach toward athletics adopted by the school district is making a big difference in the number of injuries and concussions reported by student athletes. Concussions have declined more than 43 percent, and injuries have declined nearly 24 percent.

The fundamentals of the Heads Up Football program have been expanded to other sports, most notably boys and girls lacrosse, which have seen their student concussion rates fall from 36 to 33 percent, and their student injuries drop 16 percent, as well as cheerleading.

Learn more at http://commweb.fcps.edu/newsreleases/newsrelease.cfm?newsid=2993

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Tip Sheet for Parents: Summer Learning

Even when the school year ends, learning should continue. Parents can use the summer vacation months to build background knowledge that connects to the subjects children learn in school.

Take Summer Field Trips

  • Go to a park, zoo, aquarium, sports event, historic landmark, or museum.
  • Go on a hike or to a natural attraction in your area.
  • When you’re indoors, watch a TV program about nature or an historic event, or use the web to take a virtual field trip to a faraway place.

Follow up With a Book

  • Find out what interests your child and visit the library to get more information.
  • Encourage your children to create their own books or journals, with photos or illustrations of activities and their own commentaries.

Use Math in Daily Activities

  • Keep statistics about a sports team.
  • Teach fractions when you measure ingredients to prepare meals.
  • Record the cost of groceries or other household expenses for the week or the month.
  • Use math skills as you travel. Keep track of time and gas use.
  • Use a map to plan a long trip and let your child help navigate.
  • Play math games in the car, such as counting how many trucks you see.

Show That You Value Learning

  • Set an example by letting your child see you reading or writing.
  • Make time to talk as a family.
  • Encourage your children to ask questions and then discuss the subjects they bring up.

Also, use community resources, such as libraries, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, computer clubs, and summer camps.

Note: Copyright 2016. Reprinted with permission from the Parent Institute. Additional tip sheets and other resources for parents and families can be found on the Family and School Partnerships website at http://www.fcps.edu/is/fam/resources/publications/index.shtml.

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Fairfax County School Board Directs Superintendent to Draft Pre-Labor Day Start Calendar for 2017-18 Year

The Fairfax County School Board has directed Superintendent Karen K. Garza to draft a calendar for the 2017-18 school year that begins the school year one week earlier prior to Labor Day. Due to this action, the 2017-18 school year will begin on Monday, August 28, 2017.

This change is being made to provide more instructional time before winter break, enhanced flexibility to help students and school staff members meet college application deadlines, and to end the school year earlier in June.

In order to help families and employees adjust, the board is providing direction 15 months prior to the change going into effect.

Input from employee, parent, and community stakeholders will be considered when developing the final 2017-18 calendar for School Board consideration in late fall.   

The 2016-17 school year calendar was approved by the School Board on December 3, 2015; the first day of the 2016-17 school year will be September 6

See the 2016-17 calendar at http://www.fcps.edu/about/16-17cal.shtml.

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Important Immunization Requirement: Do You Have a Student Entering Sixth Grade Next Year?

Sixth grade students cannot begin school in September without documentation of the Tdap booster. Parents or guardians should ask their private health care provider, or the health department, to review their child’s immunization record if they are unsure if their child has received the Tdap booster.

Documentation must be provided to the school registrar as soon as possible. A signed and dated immunization record from the physician stating that your child has received this immunization will be required. You may send in your documentation in advance, while your child is still in the fifth grade, to ensure that he or she meets this requirement before the first day of school in the fall.

Fairfax County Public Schools tracks compliance with this state requirement and students who do not meet the requirement before September 6, 2016, will not be able to start school.

Students can receive immunizations required for school at any Fairfax County Health Department immunization clinic. Information about health department clinic locations and hours can be found at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd/hdclinicsite.htm.  

More information about immunization requirements and exemptions can be found in the current version of FCPS Regulation 2101 and on the FCPS website at http://www.fcps.edu/dss/osp/StudentRegistration/registration-requirements.shtml#immu.

If you have any questions, contact Sally Borkowski, school health specialist, Department of Special Services, at 571-423-4313 or sally.borowski@fcps.edu.  

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Parents: What Are Your Thoughts About Grading?

Fairfax County Public Schools is examining the grading policies in middle and high schools to ensure that grades represent learning and that grading practices are equitable across schools. See information at http://www.fcps.edu/is/news/grade.shtml.

Students were recently surveyed about grading and now FCPS wants to hear from parents.

There are four specific areas of grading under consideration for change:

  • Separating work habits from achievement.
  • Providing opportunities for students to retake assessments.
  • Minimizing impact of a single grade on a quarter grade.
  • Examining the impact of zeros in a 100 point scale.

Share your thoughts about current grading practices and on how best to ensure grade equity within the school division by going to https://fcps.uservoice.com/forums/358476-grading.

The four identified areas were selected intentionally to ensure that grades are an accurate representation of student learning and that FCPS’ practices support all students as they work to master the content. Schools need to be a place where students continually increase their knowledge and develop their skills, and as a result, FCPS must have practices in place to help students succeed.  

Many of these practices are already in place at the school or teacher team level. The current policy allows for principals to implement best practices as school communities are ready. It is now time to update division policy to bring all schools into better alignment to ensure all students are provided the opportunity to reach their full potential.

We invite you to learn more about FCPS grading by viewing the FCPS Parent's Guide to Examining Grading Policies (video), available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkWdRJPeUVo&rel=0, which provides additional information and a timeline for decision-making and implementation.

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All Fairfax County High Schools Make Washington Post’s List of Top High Schools in U.S.

All Fairfax County high schools have been designated among the most demanding public schools in the country and are featured in the 2016 Washington Post list of more than 2,300 U.S. high schools, found at http://apps.washingtonpost.com/local/highschoolchallenge/schools/2016/list/national/, which represents the top 11 percent in the nation.

McLean High School had the highest ranking of FCPS high schools on the list, which is based on a formula devised by Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews.

The Challenge Index measures public and private high schools’ ability to challenge their students. A school’s ranking is determined by dividing the number of college-level tests given by a school to all its students by the number of graduates for that year. The index is designed to identify schools that challenge average students.

Note: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which serves students across the region, was not included in the list because of its selective admissions process. It is recognized in a separate group of top-performing schools with elite students. 

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Keep Your Emergency Contact and Health Information Up-to-Date by Using weCare@school

Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to ensuring a safe and secure climate in all its facilities. In support of this goal, FCPS provides the weCare@school (weCare) online emergency care information service for parents and guardians who have registered to access FCPS 24-7 Learning (also known as Blackboard), found at http://www.fcps.edu/is/instructionaltechnology/247help/parents.shtml.

Parents should use weCare to update their information annually at the start of school and thereafter whenever changes to the health or contact information (such as your phone number or e-mail address) occur during the course of the school year.

weCare allows parents to use a secure web-based option for keeping their child’s emergency care and health information current. For example, if a parent needs to change an emergency contact number or update his or her child’s medical condition(s), accessing weCare in FCPS 24-7 Learning provides a quick, easy, and secure method for doing so.

Keeping emergency contact information current also ensures that FCPS will be able to contact you in case of an emergency such as a school closing or delayed opening. 

Parent online access is just one of three major weCare components. Once a parent updates his or her child’s information using weCare, the school’s student information assistant reviews the submission and confirms the information before the student information database is updated.

Additionally, weCare has a mobile component that provides first responders with access to emergency care information via handheld wireless devices. 

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FCPS Families in Free Meals Program May Be Eligible for Low-Cost Internet Program

Fairfax County Public Schools families who are enrolled in the free meals program may be eligible for Cox Communications’ Connect2Compete program, which provides broadband Internet connectivity to low-income families.

Connect2Compete supplies broadband Internet access to low-income, unconnected families who live in Fairfax County, providing Internet access at home for homework help, online educational materials, and job searches. Qualifying families—those who are eligible for free meals and who meet other criteria—will be offered Internet service for $9.95 per month, a free modem rental, free installation, and a price guarantee for two years.

For more information about the program, call 1-855-222-3252 or visit Connect2Compete.org/Cox.

Families who live in areas served by Comcast may be able to get low-cost Internet and computers through the Comcast Internet Essentials program. Call 1-855-846-8376 or visit http://www.internetessentials.com/.

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Foundation for FCPS Meets Challenge Grant from Community Foundation for Northern Virginia

The Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools and the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia (CFNV) have partnered to increase cybersecurity awareness and education in FCPS. Students in 10 middle schools throughout the district will be invited to participate in Cyber Patriot afterschool clubs beginning in the 2016-17 school year, thanks to a challenge grant from the CFNV that was matched by the Foundation.

"We are delighted to be able to work with the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia on this endeavor for our students," said Elizabeth Murphy, executive director of the Foundation for FCPS. "FCPS is already a Cyber Patriot Center of Excellence, and to expand the program into middle schools is exactly the kind of work that the Foundation was established to do."

The 10 middle schools are currently in process of identifying the teacher champions for the program in each school, and then will let students and parents know of the opportunity and when it will be implemented. 

As Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said recently, one of the most important catalysts for long-term economic growth in Virginia will come from the burgeoning cybersecurity sector. Enabling students to learn more about this growing field at an earlier age will inspire them to make room in their high school schedule for cyber courses, and perhaps lead to a career in this exciting work.

The Foundation for FCPS secured funding from Oracle, the Fairfax Economic Forum, and Apple Federal Credit Union in order to meet the match. Thank you to our donors and supporters for seeing the value of this project to FCPS.

More information about the Foundation for FCPS can be found at www.fcpsfoundation.org.

Support the Foundation for FCPS Through your Amazon Purchases

When you shop at Amazon.com, you can benefit the Foundation for FCPS. To do so, register at smile.amazon.com and designate the Foundation for FCPS as your charity. The Foundation supports programs in workforce development, classroom innovation, and student success.

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Registration Now Open for Spring 2016 Adult and Community Education Classes

Registration is under way for spring 2016 classes offered by Adult and Community Education (ACE). Course offerings may be viewed at www.fcps.edu/is/ace, and online registration is available. The course catalog, ACE Classes, has been mailed to residents and is also available at Fairfax County public libraries and at the Plum Center.

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2016-17 Kindergarten Orientation and Registration

Will your child be five years old by September 30? If so, contact your child's school to make arrangements for kindergarten enrollment. Most schools begin getting information together in late March or early April for parents of incoming kindergartners, and many host an orientation or open house. Forms and other information about registration are available at http://www.fcps.edu/parents/start/kindergarten.shtml.

Please note that most kindergarten orientations are usually scheduled between mid-March and the end of June. Check the school's web page or contact the school directly for specific information about kindergarten in 2016-17.

For more information about kindergarten, go to http://www.fcps.edu/is/earlychildhood/kindergarten/index.shtml.

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New Communication Tool: Get the FCPS Information You Want Through News You Choose

Fairfax County Public Schools has launched a new subscription-based e-mail communication tool, called News You Choose. This system replaces the Keep in Touch Plus subscription portal.

Parents will be able to select what information they want to receive and how often from individual schools, the School Board office and members, departments, programs, and PTA/PTO and booster organizations. 

Anyone can subscribe to News You Choose. Subscribers can select which schools they want to receive information from and what type of information—news and updates, athletics, band, PTA/PTO, and more. Subscribers can change their settings or unsubscribe at any time. 

News You Choose does not replace the essential information FCPS communicates through Keep In Touch (KIT) Basic using the Blackboard Connect system. Parents will continue to receive emergency messages, delayed openings and school closings, attendance messages, low lunch balances, and other critical information sent to the e-mail address listed on their child ’s emergency care card. Parents are automatically signed up to receive this essential information and will continue to receive messages.

News You Choose is now available for users to begin subscribing. FCPS is now using News You Choose to send e-mails. Please note that Newswire is now being sent through News You Choose.  

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Inclement Weather and Emergency Closing Plans

Due to inclement weather or other emergency situations, it may be necessary to close schools for the entire day, to open schools late, or to close early.

Parents are urged to make arrangements now for the care of their children when schedule changes are made (and to provide for the rare situation when it is necessary to close an individual school because of a power failure or other circumstances). Children should know where to go if a parent will not be home.

Decisions on schedule changes are made after careful study of the best information available from many sources including weather services, the highway department, the police, and FCPS transportation staff members who are out checking the roads. FCPS will make every effort to decide, before 4:30 a.m., whether to close or delay schools and will begin communicating the decision once it is made. The 4:30 a.m. decision time is a goal. Weather conditions can deteriorate after 4:30 a.m., which means that it may not be possible for FCPS to meet that goal. While no sources dealing with weather predictions can be infallible, decisions are made with one overriding consideration—the safety of all students—those who ride buses and those who walk to school each day.

FCPS has several schedules set up to deal with inclement weather; these are put into effect when conditions threaten the safety of children who are walking or riding school buses to schools. These schedules are:

(1) Keep schools closed. (2) Open two hours late. (3) Close two hours early.

When Fairfax County Public Schools has a schedule change (closing or delay) due to inclement weather or other emergencies, the information is communicated as soon as the decision is made in these ways:

  • Sent via e-mail and text message (SMS) to parents using the parent e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers that are listed in the Student Information System.  

  • Sent via e-mail to News You Choose subscribers of Delayed Openings and School Closings. (New, beginning January 2016)

  • Posted on www.fcps.edu.

  • Posted on cable Channel 21, a channel programmed by FCPS.

  • Posted to the FCPS Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fcpsva, and in Spanish at www.facebook.com/fcpses.
      
  • Posted to the FCPS Twitter page at www.twitter.com/fcpsnews, and in Spanish at www.twitter.com/fcpsES.

  • Called in to local radio and television stations.

Please note: FCPS schools are open unless information is posted or sent that indicates schools are closed, opening late, or closing early. During an emergency closing situation in which other local school systems are closed or delayed and FCPS is open on time, the crawl for local TV stations WJLA (ABC 7) and NewsChannel 8 will indicate "No Report" for FCPS.

Instead of trying to phone a school or a news station for school closing information, update your contact information in the following ways:

  • Parents: View and update the e-mail and phone number contact information listed on your child(ren)'s emergency contact information form online using the "weCare@School-Update Emergency Care Info" module of FCPS 24-7 Learning (Blackboard), found at https://fcps.blackboard.com, or update manually by submitting the Emergency Care Information form (Form SS/SE-3), found at http://www.fcps.edu/it/forms/se3.pdf, to the office at your child's school.

  • Community Members: Subscribe or update your e-mail address through the News You Choose system. (New, beginning January 2016)

For more information, go to http://www.fcps.edu/news/weather.shtml.

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Technology@Home Program Offers Free Microsoft Products for FCPS Students

Technology@Home, a program offered by the FCPS Department of Information Technology, enables students and staff members to purchase technology products for home use directly from vendors at discount rates. It includes computers, software, and other technology products. One of the offerings is a benefit of the FCPS Microsoft Enterprise Agreement that allows current FCPS students to download Microsoft Office 365 for free and staff members to download these programs for a nominal fee.

For additional information, go to http://www.fcps.edu/it/technology/TechnologyHome.shtml.

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New Online Tool Provides Access to Student Information for Parents

The SIS (Student Information System) Parent Account is a new online tool parents can use to access information about their child’s attendance, class schedule and performance, discipline incidents, health information, and more. 

The secure account offers parents the ability to use one username and password login for both the SIS Parent Account and FCPS 24-7 Learning (Blackboard). Parents will continue to access FCPS 24-7 Learning via the URL http://fcps.blackboard.com. Upon login, they will find assignments and course information, weCare@school (for emergency care forms), and Family Connection (goal setting and college and career resources) for their students.

Beginning in September, parents will use their newly activated parent accounts to log into FCPS 24-7 Learning.

During the past year, FCPS has phased in the implementation of SIS Parent Accounts in 11 pyramids. Beginning this year, all schools will be online allowing all parents access to their child’s information. Parents will receive a letter in the mail (if you haven't already) with instructions on how to create an account. Information parents will be able to access includes:

  • Attendance.
  • Class schedules (elementary will only show homeroom teacher).
  • Grade book, including assignments, quizzes, and tests with scores (high school and secondary schools).
  • Health information.
  • Discipline incidents.

In addition, parents will also be able to view school information, including teacher e-mail addresses, the FCPS calendar, and emergency contact information.

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Telephone Parent Information Line Available in Eight Languages

Parents who speak Ahmaric, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu, or Vietnamese can call a telephone information line to help them learn general information about FCPS and to receive support if they are having difficulty communicating with their children's schools due to a language barrier.

The Parent Information Line numbers are:

  • Amharic—571-423-4957.
  • Arabic—571-423-4952
  • Chinese—571-423-4953
  • Farsi—571-423-4954
  • Korean—571-423-4951
  • Spanish—571-423-4950
  • Urdu—571-423-4955
  • Vietnamese—571-423-4956

A parent may call at any time, leave a message in his or her language, and receive a return phone call in that language from an FCPS staff member within 24 hours Monday through Friday.

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Phone Number and Web Address for Telephone Tip Line for Safety

As part of Fairfax County Public Schools' continuing efforts to maintain safe schools, a confidential and anonymous telephone hot line is available. The Tip Line phone number is 571-423-2020.

Individuals wishing to report activity can now text their concerns to 571-418-6870 by using the keyword TIP. An automated banner will respond allowing the person to text in information.

School administrators encourage students and community members to report school safety issues, such as threats, dangerous rumors, bullying, drug use, theft, harassment, gang activities, existence of weapons, and vandalism. Tip Line users may identify themselves or remain anonymous, and calls will not be traced.

Also, anyone can anonymously report information by using the comment field on a new page found at http://70.175.224.67/FCPSTIPS/.

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FCPS Directives Available Online

Virginia’s Standards of Quality require all school divisions to notify the public annually of the availability of the school system’s policies. Fairfax County Public Schools policies are available at http://www.fcps.edu/Directives.shtml. A continuous review process ensures ongoing examination and revision of each policy, regulation, and notice as needed.

Any citizen who requests a hard copy of a directive has a right to receive it and should be provided the most current version printed from the website. The School Board office, at Gatehouse Administration Center, maintains the historical records of all directives.

For more information, call 571-423-1075.

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FCPS Bring Your Own Device Registration Process Streamlined

Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to assisting students and staff in creating a 21st century learning environment. In an effort to support this progress, students and staff are able to access the FCPS wireless network with their personal devices (laptops, netbooks, tablets, smart phones, etc,), also known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), during the school day. 

BYOD within FCPS has grown rapidly during the last several years. In fact, over 10,000 students registered for BYOD last year. While the registration process is essential and helps protect students and the FCPS network, the process itself has largely been a manual effort. As the BYOD program continues to grow, a new, more seamless and automated process for students to self-register their personal BYOD devices is being implemented. 

The system, FCPS Onboard, uses an application called Cloudpath XpressConnect to provide secure wireless authentication on the FCPS network. Users simply select the FCPSonboard wireless network from their device and follow the prompts to gain access. This secure connection protects both the resources on the FCPS network and the personal device connecting to the network. Once connected, students have access to FCPS resources on their personal devices throughout the school year.  

This year, BYOD is covered and governed by the Acceptable Use Policy for Student Network Access and within the Students Rights & Responsibilities (SR&R) document. Inclusion of BYOD expectations in the SR&R eliminates the need for a separate permission form to be signed by students and parents and school staff are no longer required to manually register and record each student device.

Does the BYOD Wireless System, FCPS Onboard Allow FCPS to Monitor Activities on BYOD Devices?

The BYOD wireless system, FCPS Onboard, is used solely for device registration, not device management and, therefore, doesn’t provide FCPS the capability to monitor activities on BYOD devices. The purpose of the system is to provide an easy-to-use mechanism to register BYOD devices to allow students and employees the ability to use their own device on the FCPS enterprise wireless network and Internet.

During the registration process, information such as IP address and MAC address are collected and logged. This information would be used to locate a device if it is misplaced or if inappropriate activity, in possible violation of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), was traced back to a particular device on the network. It is not the intention of FCPS to actively manage, monitor or access BYOD devices. In situations where there is a potential AUP violation, FCPS does reserve the right to investigate all devices and activities on the FCPS network, including BYOD devices, to determine if any wrongdoing occurred.

More information about the FCPS BYOD program can be found at http://www.fcps.edu/it/byod/index.shtml.

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New FCPS Facebook Page in Spanish

FCPS now has an official school district Facebook page in Spanish.

Connect with FCPS in Spanish and get news, videos, emergency announcements, and parenting tips. Go to https://www.facebook.com/FCPSES or search for “FCPS en Español - Fairfax County Public Schools”.

Once there, click “Like,” and also click “Follow” to make sure you are always receiving FCPS information in your News Feed.

Note to editors: If you would like to include a graphic of the FCPS Spanish Facebook page with your article, one is available at http://www.fcps.edu/cco/images/FollowFCPSES-small.jpg.

Spanish Text:

Nueva página Facebook de las Escuelas Públicas del Condado de Fairfax (FCPS) en español

FCPS ahora tiene una página Facebook oficial del distrito escolar en español.

Manténganse en contacto con FCPS en español por Facebook y vean noticias, videos, anuncios de emergencia y sugerencias para la crianza de los hijos. Vayan a https://www.facebook.com/FCPSES o busquen “FCPS en Español - Fairfax County Public Schools”.

Cuando estén en la página, pulsen "Me gusta" (Like) y también pulsen "Seguir" (Follow) para asegurarse de que siempre reciban información de FCPS en sus Noticias (News Feed).

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Another Great Reason to Download the FCPS Mobile App

Fairfax County Public Schools has a mobile app for parents and students to provide easy access to individual school and district information you need where and when you need it.

Here's what you can do with the mobile app:

  • Get the latest news from FCPS in Top Stories.
  • Need help or know someone who does? Click on Crisis Resources for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Check out lunch menus in the Energy Zone icon.
  • Find your school in the Directory.
  • Find important school year dates and events in Calendars.
  • Go to Settings to get news and updates from schools you select.
  • Need to find schedule information for your sports teams? Click on the Sports icon to get information about all your favorite athletic teams.
  • Check out the FCPS Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages.
  • Read the FCPS Go to Guide (formerly the handbook).

The FCPS Mobile app is free and available now for download on Android devices, iPhones, and iPads in the iTunes or Google Play stores.

Note: The FCPS Mobile app will continue to be updated with new features throughout the year. It is intended to be a convenient tool to find information and is not intended to replace the FCPS website.

The FCPS Go to Guide is also available online at http://www.fcps.edu/cco/pubs/handbook.pdf.

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Are You Interested in Becoming a Mentor?

Mentoring in Fairfax County Public Schools occurs throughout the entire school system and at all levels. According to data from the 2010-11 school year, a total of 172 mentoring programs are in place in FCPS: 118 elementary school programs, 21 middle school programs, and 33 high school programs. These data also indicated that approximately 5,500 students in FCPS were being mentored.

If you are interested, consider several factors, including the age and number of young people you want to work with—elementary, middle, or high school-age children; one youth or several. (There is a difference between mentoring a child one on one versus coaching a group of young people). Also, consider the setting that you may want to mentor in, such as a school, the community, or a business.

For more information, go to http://www.fcps.edu/dss/ips/ssaw/mentorworks.

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FCPSinfo Portal Added to FCPS Website

Do you have a question, idea, suggestion, concern, or compliment you need to have addressed by FCPS? FCPS has an online tool that allows parents, students, employees, and community members to submit information that will be delivered to the appropriate department to address your questions and comments.

The new FCPSinfo portal is available by clicking on the Contact Us link in the upper right-hand corner on every page of the FCPS website, www.fcps.edu. Follow these easy steps:

  • Click on the blue button marked FCPSinfo.
  • Select a category.
  • Submit your comment and contact information.

An FCPS staff member will respond to you soon as possible.

For more information, contact Kathleen Thomas at 571-423-1214 or kathleen.thomas@fcps.edu.  

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Help for Parents on Youth Depression and Positive Mental Health

All parents want their children to be successful and happy, and often need help on how to promote achievement, positive self-esteem, adaptive problem-solving skills, and resiliency.

According to Elsie Scimecca, program manager for School Psychology Services, FCPS offers many resources to parents who have concerns about the emotional and behavioral health of their child or teen, and want to know more about what they can do to help them grow up healthy and safe.

"If you have any doubts about your child's emotional health, it's best to err on the side of caution," says Scimecca. "Every school has a school counselor, social worker, and psychologist available. Parents can call their child's school to schedule a confidential appointment with any of these professionals to discuss their child's wellbeing."

She says the key is to recognize possible signs of depression, such as being sad or angry, social withdrawal, feeling worthless, sleeping too much or too little, substance abuse, and risk-taking. Although some of these behaviors are often part of a normal adolescence, any change of mood or behavior that lasts more than two weeks is a potential warning sign.

Scimecca adds that "we want all parents to be aware that there are mental health professionals who are available in the schools to consult with them, help determine if their child is depressed, and work with them to develop a plan to address their child’s concerns. Even during the summer months, consultation with a school psychologist or social worker can be arranged by contacting one of our parent clinics."

The Office of Intervention and Prevention Services also has a website devoted to youth depression and positive mental health, which has answers to questions, such as:

  • What can I do as a parent to help my child foster positive mental health and handle life’s challenges?
  • Are my youngster’s behaviors just part of “normal” adolescence or should I be worried?
  • How do I know if my child is depressed and what can I do to help?
  • When a teen talks about suicide, what should a parent do?
  • Where can I go for more help?

For more information, go to http://www.fcps.edu/dss/ips/dasp/index.shtml.

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FCPS Partnership Starter Website

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has developed a new online tool that will help match potential partners with schools or an FCPS office or program. Business and community groups that are considering establishing a partnership and schools that are looking for a partner can use a new matchmaking tool, the FCPS Partnership Starter, found at http://commweb.fcps.edu/partnership_matching/public/index.cfm.

Completing the FCPS Partnership Starter questionnaire, which should take approximately five minutes, will help the Office of Business and Community Partnerships recommend a potential partner by matching keywords and using mapping tools.

If a match is identified, there is no obligation to create a partnership with any potential partner.

When potential matches are identified, the Office of Business and Community Partnerships will first contact the FCPS principal or program manager that is matched to confirm his or her continued interest. If they remain interested, the business or community group contact will be notified so that conversations can begin with willing parties sharing like-minded objectives.

Information about the value of partnerships and how they are developed is available at http://www.fcps.edu/cco/bcp/.

For more information on finding your match, visit the FCPS Business and Community Partnerships website at http://www.fcps.edu/cco/bcp/index.shtml.

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FCPS Families in Free Meals Program May Be Eligible for Low-Cost Internet Program

Fairfax County Public Schools families who are enrolled in the free meals program may be eligible for Cox Communications’ new Connect2Compete program, which provides broadband Internet connectivity to low-income families.

Connect2Compete supplies broadband Internet access to low-income, unconnected families who live in Fairfax County, enabling children to have Internet access at home for homework help, online educational materials, and job searches. Qualifying families—those who are eligible for free meals and who meet other criteria—will be offered Internet service for $9.95 per month, a free modem rental, free installation, and a price guarantee for two years.

For more information about the program, call 1-855-222-3252 or visit Connect2Compete.org/Cox.

Families who live in areas served by Comcast may be able to get low-cost Internet and computers through the Comcast Internet Essentials program. Call 1-855-846-8376 or visit http://www.internetessentials.com/.

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FCPS E-Newsletter: My FCPS - Community

Do you know a member of the community without children in school who wants to know more about what's happening in Fairfax County Public Schools? If so, there is a e-newsletter for them called My FCPS - Community. All issues are available online at http://www.fcps.edu/cco/pubs/myfcps/community/index.shtml, and readers can also subscribe through Keep in Touch Plus (https://signup.blackboardconnect.com/fcps/Default.aspx) to be notified when a new issue has been posted.

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FCPS Resiliency Program: Creating “Bounce Back” Kids

Every child has the inner strengths to be resilient. A new program by FCPS provides parents with the resources to build an environment of safety nets and help their children focus on their strengths to “bounce back” from adversity.

The new resiliency program builds on existing areas of focus for FCPS: bullying prevention and intervention, depression and suicide awareness, and crisis situations. Everyone faces life’s difficulties but many researchers have found that the growth of technology and social media has exposed children to increasing and more far-reaching pressures than in the past. They can include serious family and personal struggles, everyday challenges in the classroom, the intense need to succeed, and strained and confusing relationships with peers and parents.

The resiliency training that FCPS psychologists, social workers, and counselors have participated in has expanded to outside the classroom by providing information for parents to be aware, be informed, and know how to access resources to build resiliency in their children.

The web-based resources feature how parents can build on their children’s inner strengths to deal and rise above adversity with humor, creativity, persistence, and flexibility. Resources also include information on how external forces like the presence of a caring adult, clear and established boundaries, setting and meeting expectations, and mentoring or volunteering can help a child build resiliency.

For more information, go to http://www.fcps.edu/dss/ips/resiliency/index.shtml.

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Connect With FCPS on Social Media

Fairfax County Public Schools has expanded its use of social media, adding Flickr and YouTube to its existing presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Parents, students, employees, and citizens can view videos featured on FCPS cable TV Channel Red Apple 21 on YouTube by going to http://www.youtube.com/user/FairfaxCountySchools; the site is updated periodically. 

The FCPS Flickr account features photos from the schools with a focus on events and activities featuring students. New photos are added to the Flickr page at the end of each month. To view the photos, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/55818873@N06/

FCPS has more than 68,000 followers on Facebook, where up-to-date news and information, including emergency school closing information, can be found. New entries are added to the Facebook page daily during the five-day work week. To follow FCPS on Facebook, visit http://www.facebook.com/fcpsva and select Like at the top of the page. 

Over 130,000 people follow FCPS on Twitter (@fcpsnews), where news briefs and helpful information for parents and citizens is posted. To follow FCPS on Twitter, visit http://www.twitter.com/fcpsnews and click on Follow. 

Citizens can also receive FCPS news and information by subscribing to the school system’s News You Choose e-mail messaging system (https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/VAEDUFCPS/subscriber/new?qsp=VAEDUFCPS_1), or by subscribing to RSS (really simple syndication). To learn more about RSS, visit http://www.fcps.edu then click on the orange RSS logo on the right side of the page. Links to all of FCPS' social media sites can also be found on the FCPS home page.

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Alternate Transportation Plans

In case of emergencies such as road closures, accidents, or weather-related road problems, drivers may use safe transportation-approved alternate locations to pick up or drop off students. Drivers will return children to their schools:

  • If there is no safe transportation-approved alernative stop.
  • If the driver has any other concerns regarding the safety of releasing a student at a regular stop.
  • If a child expresses concern, for any reason, about getting off of the bus.

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Walker Safety Tips

Parents should plan a walking route to school and choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings. Parents are responsible for selecting their children’s walking routes to and from bus stops, schools, and home. Parents are also responsible for providing supervision that is appropriate for their child’s age, maturity, and conditions on the route. Parents should be encouraged to outfit their children with reflective clothing.

Students should cross streets at controlled intersections and in crosswalks where available. Students should not cross in the middle of a street unless the crossing is supervised by a crossing guard or a police officer. Before crossing, students should look both ways before stepping off the curb. Students should always pay attention for turning vehicles. Students should be encouraged to turn off personal stereos (iPods) while crossing intersections.

Students who walk to and from school should be encouraged to walk with other students. Walkers should go directly home after school and never take shortcuts. Students should avoid parks, vacant lots, fields, and other places where there aren't many people, and, if they are unable to walk home safely, they should return to the school.

It is important to note that school system staff members do not assess all possible walking routes, supervise those routes, or guarantee the safety of any particular route. Staff members provide general safety information to school communities and respond to requests for specific information and advice when practicable. Staff members also assess routes for unusual hazards when concerns are brought to their attention.

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Parent Resource Center Tutor and Speech Clinician List

The FCPS tutor list, which can be found at http://www.fcps.edu/dss/osp/prc/resources/tutors.shtml, contains names of individuals who have contacted the Parent Resource Center (PRC) to offer services. The PRC in no way recommends or guarantees certification or costs of individual tutors. The list is a service provided by the PRC, but parents are responsible for contacting and working with the tutors. The listed FCPS speech clinicians are those who are licensed to provide services privately to clients. The PRC cannot make specific recommendations or guarantee certification, licensure, or costs.

If you have questions, call 703-204-3941 or visit the PRC at 2334 Gallows Road, room 224. Hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Satellite locations are open part-time at Aldrin and Hayfield Elementary Schools.

For more information about the Parent Resource Center, go to http://www.fcps.edu/dss/osp/prc/about.shtml.

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Newswire

Webpage Curator

Andy Grunig
Andy.Grunig@fcps.edu

Last Updated

June 17, 2016