Education briefs for Monday, July 31

Chesterfield gets grant to engage high schoolers

CHESTERFIELD — A $50,000 grant will be used by the Chesterfield County school system to develop a program at Monacan and Thomas Dale high schools in which students will work within county agencies.

“We are thrilled to be one of the few, select school divisions in the commonwealth to receive this planning grant,” said School Board member Dianne Smith, whose Clover Hill District includes Monacan High. “We recognize the need to update and transform the high school experience so that we can enhance student engagement through innovative, relevant classroom lessons.”

An initial cohort of about 50 10th-graders at each school will participate in a pilot. In the first year, 30 teachers will be trained in strategies that promote service learning, project-based learning and social emotional instruction and will design project-based learning activities.

During the following year, it is expected that 65 percent of the initial cohort identified as disengaged or underperforming will successfully complete a minimum of two cross-curricular, community-based projects in collaboration with county partners.

Commonwealth Autism, Northstar join in effort

HENRICO — Commonwealth Autism and Northstar Academy, a private nonprofit school in Henrico County, are partnering to boost offerings for students with autism.

Northstar currently serves about 85 students across central Virginia who have disabilities. Under the agreement announced last week, up to eight of the school’s own students will be able to attend The Founders Center, a program of Commonwealth Autism that is going to be hosted at Northstar’s Henrico campus.

“We feel so welcomed by the Northstar community,” said Courtney Vaughan, director of The Founders Center. “This will provide more inclusive educational opportunities for our students. We know that when these opportunities are available, our students often make great gains in social skills.”

Both programs offer rolling admission and are licensed by the Virginia Department of Education, according to a news release.

Board votes to rename Stuart High in Fairfax

FALLS CHURCH — Fairfax County School Board members have voted to rename a high school named for a Confederate general, ending two years of debate on the subject.

The board met late into Thursday night as members tried to decide the fate of J.E.B. Stuart High School’s name. Stuart, who was mortally wounded in an 1864 battle, was a slaveholding Confederate general.

The renaming process will start in the fall, and the new name must be in place no later than the beginning of the 2019 school year, according to local news outlets.

A year ago, the board pawned off the decision to a task force that it hoped would find a compromise. Instead, the task force fractured so badly that it issued two separate reports — one in favor of changing the name, one opposed.

Stuart High, as the school is more commonly known, opened in 1959. It’s now one of the most diverse schools in Fairfax County, which has the 10th-largest school district in the U.S. and one of the wealthiest.

— From staff and wire reports

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