PTSO Honors Student, Discusses Future Actions to Improve Mental Health of School Community

On Feb. 2, the PTSO and community members met in the library to discuss future actions to address mental health and recent school incidents.


Muhammad Reda

Sitting around a table, the PTSO, Student Activities and Engagement Coordinator Annamika Hacikyan, and Principal John Duellman convene to review and devise a plan to move forward from recent incidents.

On Feb. 2,  the PTSO met to brainstorm how to improve mental health within the Phoenix community in response to recent events.

They began their meeting with a moment of silence for the passing of Rock Ridge sophomore Myles Lytle-Gabbin.

The board then moved on to discuss IEP goals to meet the needs of IEP students. IEP stands for the Individualized Education Program, which is a “written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs.” Students who are in the special education program must have an IEP to help set individualized “learning  goals that the school district will provide for the child.”

PTSO President Tiffany Ahmed proposed recognizing those who demonstrate meaningful inclusion within the Phoenix community and suggested for Student Activities and Engagement Coordinator Annamika Hacikyan to help make the final decision, as she has championed an inclusive culture. 

During the principal’s report, Duellman expressed his disappointment and sadness in response to the events in the last couple of weeks, which included an increased amount of physical violence from fights that have broken out and a student’s death.

Duellman and the board spent a significant portion of the meeting pinpointing possible reasons for the events, as well as devising resources and student safety measures that could be provided and put in place to support the community. The PTSO board discussed conducting more mental health surveys and communicating mental health concerns with parents. “We are sitting on top of a volcano, and I’m not comfortable with this at all,” Duellman said.

The PTSO Board also discussed the possibility that the competition, high student academic achievement in Northern Virginia, and pressure being placed upon the students by the predominantly first generation immigrant families could have influenced such events. Duellman said that this topic is going to be the main focus of his upcoming parent breakfast. 

The next PTSO meeting will take place on March 2.