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Part 3: Wakefield Parents Believe Loss of WFES From AHS Could Impact Funds, Volunteers

Some parents in the Wakefield Chapel area of Annandale believe Annandale High School could lose part of its support system if they're moved from AHS to Woodson High School

This is part three of a series of articles about the Wakefield Chapel community in Annandale and the Annandale Regional Study recommendation from Fairfax County Public Schools. Read parts and .

Parental Involvement

One of the biggest areas of impacts in the chart [see part two or the photo of the chart to the right] is the loss of parent leaders. Although the School Board will not consider parental involvement in their decision, many of the parents in the Wakefield community said they volunteer their time to the AHS community and are concerned about the school losing a huge share of their active parents. Parents said this could be similar to what happened during the last boundary change, when Ravensworth neighborhoods and others were removed from the AHS pyramid.

“We get that someone has to move, and we don’t make a big enough difference one way or another, but we do make an impact with our volunteers and our time,” said Kaplan. Kaplan said she and her family chose to stay in the Wakefield area because they wanted their children to attend AHS. One of her kids recently graduated from AHS and is going to Clemson, while the other is a rising sophomore.

There is also concern about a possible loss of funding for AHS programs supported by the Wakefield community. Kaplan said the AHS marching band lost a lot of funds raised on Tag Day when students from Ravensworth were redistricted, because there were fewer doors to knock on in neighborhoods with AHS kids. If the Wakefield students are redistricted, Kaplan fears the same thing may happen.

The Wakefield community also has an annual Annandale Halloween Parade, which has been a tradition for the past 40 years and features the AHS Marching Atoms. If those students to Woodson, Curran said he’s concerned the tradition may die.

Outside of the high school community, the parents also oppose the move because they don’t want to leave the Annandale community. Many Wakefield kids participate in the Annandale-North Springfield Little League and and the parents said Annandale is their home. In a letter a group of parents against the move sent to School Board members to keep Wakefield Chapel at AHS [See PDF], they said: “We live in Annandale. Annandale is where we shop, bank, dine and seek professional services. Our orientation will shift west if our children are moved, as we will follow our children.”

Curran said he understands that by speaking out, some people will think the Wakefield community feels like they’re special, but McLean stressed that parents at Wakefield just want to stay and be part of the AHS community. 

Socioeconomics

Despite their desire to remain in the community, several parents understand they could potentially benefit economically from such a change. Woodson’s academic reputation (it was ranked #90 by U.S. News & World Report in 1998) and high test scores would make the Wakefield neighborhood more attractive to potential residents. But high property values aren’t the issue. “The happiness of our kids and their education is more important,” said Ryan.

On the other hand, the parents also argue that moving Wakefield Chapel to the Frost/Woodson pyramid would also essentially create a virtual wall ending at the Beltway, dividing middle-class neighborhoods from working-class areas.

Regardless of what happens, McLean said it won’t change what they push their kids to do and accomplish, but they’d prefer to push their kids to make a difference in Annandale.

“The Annandale community inside the Beltway is paying the price because FCPS made TJHSST a magnet school and they just keep making it worse,” said Rolen. “With this recommendation from FCPS, we know we have a fight,” said Rolen.

A group of parents will hold an "I Believe in Annandale High School" rally on Monday, July 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Luther Jackson Middle School, prior to the FCPS public hearings on the boundary change recommendation. 

Joe Lazar July 08, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Thank you Sherell for your articles presenting both sides of this difficult and divisive issue.We have lived in Chapel Square for almost 14 years. Ironically, a previous owner of our house moved in 1973 due to the fact that Chapel Square was redistricted from Woodson to Annandale and the family moved because they wanted to remain Woodson, not Annandale.We have had two kids thrive in the AHS Experience.One is in college; the other a rising junior at AHS, so we are not directly affected by the boundary fight.Both kids would not trade their experiences at AHS with any other school, and I seriously doubt they would have grown as academically, artistically, and socially had they gone to Woodson.To be frank, they would have faded in the background of a very homogenized environment. To me, the split feeder is not a major issue. My son was among only 10 kids who went to Poe and made new/diverse friends in the process.The FCPS recommendations are too drastic at this time.We are not hearing much from the Bren Mar community so it appears that the movement of Bren Mar to Edison makes sense, as it reduces the AHS population by an average of 250 students, and at the same time, does not change the demographics of Edison. Based on the rancor of the debate within the Wakefield community, it would make more sense to be measured at this time, and just move Bren Mar. As an alternative, the Board should allow those in Wakefield who wish to go to AHS and provide their own transportation, to do so.
Sherell Williams July 08, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Hello Joe, thank your your comment! It's been great to read all of the comments on the articles and in my inbox and hear the different perspectives from each of the parents. I am starting to work on a similar set of articles focused on Bren Mar community.
Mark July 11, 2011 at 02:06 AM
I appreciate the perspectives of WFES parents, and would not presume to speak for what is best for them and their community. To be clear, the movement of Bren Mar Park to Edison does *not* make sense and we have made our opposition to the proposed changes clear to FCPS and the School Board. We have objected to BMP's exclusion from the Ad Hoc Committee process; exposed representations made to BMP's principal that BMP would not be affected by any changes; identified FCPS' extraordinary enrollment projection errors for BMP; illuminated how FCPS’s decisions to close Edsall Park Elementary School and Thomas Jefferson High School have directly led to overcrowding at BMP and Annandale High School; explained how FCPS' proposals “stacked the deck” against BMP; and exposed how FCPS intends to spend 84 million dollars on renovating Thomas Jefferson, our old neighborhood high school, while busing our kids out of our neighborhood and across the Beltway We have revealed that FCPS admitted they did not consider BRAC in their enrollment, transportation, or busing analyses; dismissed parents’ safety and traffic concerns by saying, “Accidents happen;” and made the stunning admission that BMP was targeted in their proposals due to BMP's ESOL/FRL populations. Again, I appreciate the perspectives of WFES parents. But please be aware that we at BMP have grave concerns regarding what's been proposed for our children.
alem biset July 12, 2011 at 07:24 PM
Alem parents of students at BMP, we are concered about traffic flow & of our children safety. non of the options is solving our problem we still going to be overcrowded, as Mark mention BMP targeted due to ESOL/FRL population. I was their in meeting that day I was broken on to tears. Isn't what make this country beautiful b/c we all came from a different back ground.

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