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 .
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.
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.