opened its doors for the first time to over 400 students on Tuesday for the first day of school for Fairfax County Public Schools students.
“We could not have imagined a better day inside Mason Crest once school started,” said principal Brian Butler. “The students, staff, and parents were wonderful. Once school started it was as if the students had been here for months. They quickly got settled and teachers worked on routines and procedures, and students were in classes learning about their new friends and classmates.”
Shortly before noon, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Jack D. Dale, Mason District School Board representative Sandy Evans and Cluster III assistant superintendent Dan Parris visited the school and spoke with teachers and students.
For many Annandale residents, the opening of the school marks the end result of what was a two-year long process. Back in 2010, the Fairfax County School Board approved the creation of an ad hoc committee to for the Annandale Regional Study in order to develop solutions for overcrowding at Annandale area schools. Part of that scope included determining the boundaries for the elementary school on the Lacey site, now named Mason Crest Elementary School.
There was no shortage of excitement for the first day, but there was also an abundance of something else on Tuesday: traffic. Cars wrapped around the parking lot of the school down Crest Drive and onto Wayne Drive on Tuesday morning and afternoon while parents dropped off and picked up their students.
Dealing with the traffic was the most challenging part of an otherwise smooth opening.
“There is only one way in and one way out. We are encouraging parents to walk or put their children on the bus. We will adjust and get better each day, but having less cars at Kiss-n-Ride would definitely help,” said Butler.
To try and alleviate some of the traffic concerns, Butler said the Office of Safety and Security and FCPS Transportation are working with Mason Crest officials to look at possible solutions.
“We still need less cars picking up students. That would help the most,” said Butler.
The school currently has 431 students enrolled, lower than their projected number, which Butler said is due to the grandfathering option area fifth-graders had to stay at the school they currently attend. Even though there’s only one fifth grade class for the 2012-2013 academic year, Butler said he’s confident that number will increase next year. The average class size varies from 17-23 depending on grade level.
Twelve of the Mason Crest teachers are new to FCPS. Prior to opening day, Butler said several of the staff were “anxious, nervous, and excited staff,” but once “the students got to class and started the day, all seemed very happy.”
See photos from the first day of school on the Fairfax County Public Schools Facebook page.