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The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


School Board Issues March Proclamations, Presents Mid-Year Data, Hosts Rock Ridge Representative

On Feb. 28, the Loudoun County School Board met to discuss proclamations for March, view mid-year progress reports, and listen to Rock Ridge Representative senior Sanjana Rao.
Sitwat Mian
At their 4th Tuesday meeting, the LCPS School Board addressed a variety of topics – from small policy wording changes to big-picture progress on performance goals.

On Feb. 28, the Loudoun County School Board met for their fourth Tuesday meeting.

March Proclamations

The school board made three official proclamations regarding the upcoming month of March. First, they officially proclaimed March 2024 as Art in Our Schools Month, dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness about the impact of fine arts education. In 1985, March was also designated Music in Our Schools Month® by the National Association for Music Education. In 1961, it became Youth Art Month by the National Association for Art Education. And, it’s Theatre In Our Schools Month by the Educational Theatre Association.

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Second, the board recognized March 2024 as National Social Work Month and March 3 to 9, 2024 as National School Social Work Week. Both are dedicated to recognizing school social workers “for the vital role they play as catalysts” in creating effective learning environments for students.

Anne Donohue, School Board Member At-Large, made the motion to recognize National Social Work Month. “As someone who has had a lot of interaction with the social worker at my children’s school, I am particularly pleased to be able to present this proclamation to the board this evening,” Donohue said. “Because I do know firsthand how important their support of that position is in people’s lives and in the everyday lives of the students who need that support.”

This year, LCPS has at least 80 social workers across the county – covering elementary, middle, and high schools. At Rock Ridge, school social worker Kim-An Tran was treated with a butterfly-decorated door and gift basket, courtesy of the other counselors. Tran leads the Unified Mental Health Team along with school psychologist Dallas Swirchak and student assistance services specialist Fiona Brown. Together, they work with programs like PEER and Sources of Strength to help students. Tran, Swirchak, and Brown can all be found in the Counseling Office. 

Finally, the board also designated the second Friday of March (this year, March 8) as Social Emotional Learning Day. SEL involves developing skills like self-awareness, relationship maintenance, and responsible decision-making. Schools are encouraged to share their awareness-building activities on X/Twitter with #LCPSSELDAY. 

Mid-year Data and Future Goals

LCPS Chief of Staff Daniel Smith, Ed.D., and LCPS Chief Academic Officer Ashley Ellis, Ed.D. also presented the board with mid-year data regarding chronic absenteeism, transportation punctuality, non-academic class enrollment rates, and more.

Following the 22-23 school year, LCPS set performance goals for student attendance. In order to adequately analyze this metric, LCPS has deemed any student with an absence rate of over 10% to be chronically absent. In the 2021-22 SY, 13% of students were chronically absent. In the 2022-23 SY, this rose to 18.8% – more than the target of 12.5%. Now, as of Feb. 14, 2024, this is 15.8% – a full 2.8% over the 12% goal but still a 3% decrease from last year.

Sanjana Rao Student Representative

Senior Sanjana Rao also spoke on behalf of our school, after being given the chance by her SCA advisor Michelle Prince and Principal John Duellman. She gave an update on recent Rock Ridge events, highlighting the Boy’s Basketball senior night, senior Thandi Hart placing first in a gymnastics competition, and the sizable number of students (372) who tried out for a spring sport this year. The Esports Team was also mentioned for winning 2nd at the VHSL State Championships, while the Academic Team was mentioned for becoming district and regional runner-ups. The Future Business Leaders of America also had their regional conference and are heading to the State Leadership Conference in April. And, the Phoenix Motorsports club built a car from scratch. Rao also highlighted the creative ways Rock Ridge students celebrated Black History Month, such as their library display and other initiatives. She also noted that the Fifth Annual Rise to Women’s Summit was to be hosted at Rock Ridge on March 2. The Summit is organized by women and gender studies teacher Jessica Berg and is an event where politicians and other activists come together to speak about women’s rights.

The next school board meeting will be held on March 12. A link to the online live stream and other viewing information can be found on the LCPS website.

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About the Contributors
Diya Chand
Diya Chand, Staff Writer
Diya Chand is a senior this year, and a new staff writer to The Blaze. Her time in the Art and Lit Mag club here at Rock Ridge helped lead her to Newspaper. Now, she is looking forward to taking pictures, interviewing, and improving her graphic design. Diya also has interests in the medical field, hoping to join the Red Cross Club, potentially train to be an EMT, and maybe pursue veterinary science or dentistry. This year, Diya is looking forward to Capstone at the Loudoun County Animal Shelter. On any day, you can find her at Rock Ridge or at the Academies of Loudoun in the Academy of Science pathway. There, she’s a member of the STEM4Kids club. Outside of school, though, you can find her drawing, watching Netflix, or reading interesting research articles (one of which was about roundworms being able to detect cancer in dog pee).
Jackson Mitchell
Jackson Mitchell, Staff Writer
Jackson is a senior and this is his third year on staff. In his free time, he likes to wrestle and hang out with his friends. Jackson also loves music and his favorite artists are Bladee and Yung Lean. One thing Jackson loves to do is make people laugh and he is really funny and good looking.
Sydney Nguyen
Sydney Nguyen, Design Editor
Sydney Nguyen is a senior and the Design Editor for The Blaze. While creating and designing spreads for the newspaper is one of Sydney’s favorite parts, they also enjoy writing articles. This year, Syd is most looking forward to AP Literature. In the coming year, Sydney plans to go to college and major in computer science while still continuing her hobbies of journalism and graphic design. Sydney especially enjoys the Art and Literature Club and being in the marching band at Rock Ridge as a top bass and saxophone player. Sydney’s favorite activities to do in their free time include drawing, rollerblading, scootering, and biking with their family.
Sitwat Mian
Sitwat Mian, Graphic Editor
Sitwat is a junior, and the Graphics Editor for the Newspaper. She enjoys art and is excited to create graphics for the staff this year. When she’s not frantically worrying about school, you can find her listening to music, spending time with her family, and eating. She is probably the most unathletic person you will ever meet, and has the memory and attention span of an Ostrich. Ultimately, Sitwat hopes for another creative and successful year in Newspaper.

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