The GMHS Hitching Post

George Mason High School Newsletter - April 3, 2020

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Dear Mustang Families,

We hope everyone continues to remain healthy and safe during this challenging time. We recognize how hard this has been for our students to adjust to these changes and we commend them on their ability to continue to collaborate and work as a team. Your children are incredibly resilient.

Below, you will find how we plan to calculate a Semester 2 grade for all of our students as well as the new learning block schedule beginning on April 14. We applaud our Instructional Leadership Team, the Collaborative Team Leaders and several faculty members for contributing to the dialogue around student learning. From the beginning, these conversations have focused on affording students every possible opportunity to achieve at the highest level while maintaining their mental health. As information from external sources (Virginia Department of Education, Governor Northam, CDC, etc.) is constantly changing, we appreciate the flexibility of our community as we make necessary adjustments during this trying time.

We have had the pleasure of meeting with several student leadership groups to discuss a variety of topics. Our Mustangs continue to amaze us during this trying time. During a global crisis, their biggest concern was how to show their teachers how thankful they are for each of them! Earlier this morning, we also met with the Class of 2020 to discuss Graduation and end of the year Senior Activities. We are committed to celebrating our incredible Seniors and will work collaboratively to ensure a memorable experience for everyone.

On Tuesday night, the school board approved the revised FCCPS Learning Plan. This means students' last day of school will now be Thursday, June 4th while Friday, June 5th will be a teacher workday. Recognizing that teachers will need time to continue collaborative planning for online instruction, Friday, April 24th will now be a teacher workday. Monday, April 13th remains a teacher workday.

● Monday, April 6th: Summer Academy Registration opens

● Monday, April 13th: Teacher Workday to prepare for the remainder of the school year

● Tuesday, April 14th: Students begin new instruction online for 4th quarter

● Friday, April 24th: Additional teacher workday & 3rd quarter grades due

● Thursday, May 21st: Summer Academy Registrations Due

● Monday, May 25th: Memorial Day Holiday
● Thursday, May 28th: Summer Academy Orientation via Schoology at 1:00 p.m.

● Friday, May 29th: Last day for new instruction and last day for seniors

● Monday, June 1st: Virtual Summer Academy Begins

● June 1st - 4th: Last week for students in grades 9-11 (end of year activities with classes online, final project presentations, etc.)

● Friday, June 5th: Last day for teachers - grading day and final closeout of school year 2019-20

● Monday, July 6th: Summer Academy Face to Face Begins

● Friday, July 31st: Last day of Summer Academy

● Monday, August 24th: School begins for school year 2020-21



  • Teachers will hold either AM or PM office hours Monday-Thursday. Office Hours for all teachers are 10am-12pm on Friday. Individual teachers will note their hours on their Schoology page.

  • World Language Teachers will always hold office hours from 9:00 -10:00am to align with Henderson Office Hours.

  • Office Hours include School Counselors.

  • The designated Blocks in the schedule will be instructional time with teachers. Instruction may be synchronous (live) or asynchronous (recorded) in nature.

Quarter 3 Grade - We will issue a 3rd quarter (Q3) grade based on the work completed between January 27th - March 12th. A student’s grade cannot go down as a result of any missing work that was not submitted during this window. However, students are expected to turn in missing work that was assigned during the 3rd quarter (January 27th - March 12th) prior to the launch of the “continuity of learning” which began on March 19th. We recognize that in some courses there were a minimal number of grades/assessments. Consequently, if a student wishes to improve upon the grades from prior assignments from January 27th - March 12th they will have that opportunity. To ensure the highest level of learning and mastery of prior content, the deadline for when students need to submit and/or resubmit missing Q3 work has been extended through the end of the year.

Students participating in our standards-based grading (SBG) courses have demonstrated mastery of several criterion to date. In January, your student received a S1 converted score which is located in PowerSchool. Your students current overall score in Schoology consists of all summative assessments though March 12th. The score from March 12th will be converted to a letter grade using our official FCCPS overall IB MYP conversion chart, and issued as a Q3 grade.

Students have the ability to retake summative assessments delivered from January 27th - March 12th to improve their Q3 grade. Teachers in SBG courses will continue to deliver instruction and provide feedback on assessed criterion as we embark on new learning and will issue a pass/fail (P/F) in Q4 to align with our secondary grading plan.

George Mason New Learning (April 14th - May 29th)

For the fourth quarter (Q4), we will issue a universal P/F based on the student's level of mastery of learning, work completion, active participation, and engagement in online learning. Students’ semester two (S2) grade will be determined based on their quarter three (Q3) grade plus participation in online new learning in Q4. If a student is satisfied with their Q3 grade they still must engage in the new learning during Q4 in order to earn a pass “P.”

Failure to earn a “P” in Q4 will result in academic counseling and conferencing at the school level to identify curriculum and skill gaps that require closing via an individualized student learning plan in Summer/Fall of 2020.

The following graphic describes how an S2 grade will be determined.

Q3 plus Q4 Equal S2 Grade Image

  • Q3: Students will receive a Q3 grade on April 24th

    • Students will continue to have an opportunity to improve Q3 based on content prior to March 12.

  • Q4: Students will receive a Pass or Fail (P/F) for Q4

    • Lack of participation during Q4 would result in an impact to a students’ overall Semester 2 grade.

  • S2: Q3 final grade and the Q4 P/F

    • A grade cannot go down prior to school closure unless a student earns an “F” for Q4 (lack of participation), and the Q3 grade combined with successfully earning a “P” for Q4, will result in a final Semester letter grade.

Transcript and School Profile

Semesters 1 & 2 grades for high school courses will be calculated into a student’s overall GPA and recorded on the transcript (not quarter grades). Colleges and Universities will receive our GMHS transcript along with our School Profile which will indicate S2 in 2020 was impacted by COVID-19.

The chart below provides guidance on how a P or F will be determined for Q4 at Mason.

Pass Fail Image

AP and IB Grades

The College Board (AP exams) and the IB is still awarding grades based on modified assessments. AP exams will be occurring in the coming weeks, as a 45 minute, online, at-home exam of free response questions. The schedule and specifics about these exams will be released by the College Board sometime today.

IB is still awarding grades based on IB-required assessments that have always been required by IB for scoring. Although the sit-down exams in May have been cancelled, the assessments that occur prior to May are still required and will be scored to determine final IB grades in all subjects.

We wish our students well as they prepare/complete these assessments offered by the respective governing bodies.

Grading Considerations for Students with Disabilities (IEP & 504 Plans)

  • Students who receive Special Education and 504 services should be afforded the same opportunities as all other students to complete and turn in work from the current grading period.

  • If a student has an Incomplete from the previous grading period/semester, that student should be provided the opportunity to resubmit the work.

  • They should further be provided with their accommodations/supports as needed to complete any missing work. Examples include, but are not limited to, extended time, resubmission of work, and shortened assignments.

  • Students should also be given the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in alternate ways such as through a conference/chat or alternate assignments with their teacher about the content. The Special Education teacher can then give the grade to the student for that activity/assignment.

  • Any missing assignment that could have been completed if school would have been in session but is not possible to complete in an online/virtual situation should be removed so as not to penalize the student due to the closure. Special Education Teachers should make the recommendation to the Regular Education Teacher and the two work together to make final determinations for the student.

  • It will be critical that Special Education Case Managers work closely with Regular Education Teachers to help determine grades for students with IEPs for both individual assignments and the final grade for the quarter/semester.

  • Students should not be penalized or grades lowered due to the educational situation created by this public health crisis and school closure.

  • As new learning opportunities are offered it is critical that Special Education Administrators and Special Education Teachers are a part of the grading process for students with disabilities in order to mitigate the impact of the closure.

  • Students with disabilities, both IEP and 504, should have access to their accommodations and any additional support needed to engage in any new learning opportunities during this non-traditional instructional period in order to ensure equity.


Coaches are using Schoology to provide at home workouts, to send encouragement and motivational videos, and to conduct team conferencing. For our senior athletes, we have been presenting Senior Spotlights through social media and we will also try to organize virtual senior nights within teams.

The process of returning uniforms and equipment is still being worked out. All athletes should wash their uniforms (hang to dry) and put them in a bag with their name on it. We will give more information about the collection process once we know more.

Counselor Support

Student Mental Health and well being are a top priority while we navigate this expected time in our lives. School Counselors are holding open chats three times a week in their counselor groups through Schoology. They are also always available to schedule meetings individually with students. While this isn’t the typical way we support students, we will do our best remotely to connect.

Thank you for your continued support.

The GM Admin Team


Students will have the opportunity to select from a variety of Hybrid (Hy-C) courses for new credit, credit recovery or continuation. Parents can register students for new credit courses using the 2020 Summer Academy Registration form linked below by Thursday, May 21st, 2020. (Economics & Personal Finance course will be available starting on April 14th). Parents will be sent an email to confirm your student’s registration once registration closes.

2020 Summer Academy Registration

Registration opens Monday, April 6th

Register by Thursday, May 21st

Summer Academy Orientation - Thursday, May 28 at 1:00 p.m. via Schoology

2020 Summer Academy Handbook (Covid-19 Revisions)

Orientation and Start Date

A Summer Academy Orientation will be held virtually on Thursday, May 28th, at 1 p.m. At this time, students will receive instructions for how to access the course in which they are enrolled. This will allow students to begin the class on Monday, June 1st. Please note, it is not a requirement to begin on this date. However, it is a requirement to complete the selected course by July 31st.

Summer Academy Information

Face-to-face Summer Academy at GMHS will run from Monday, July 6, through Friday, July 31st. Classes will meet five days a week - Monday through Friday. The summer academy day will be from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. There is no school on July 4th. The flexibility of the Hy-C program allows students to work independently; this will be required if your child intends to earn a full credit. Transportation will be provided from July 6th to July 31st.

Course Expectations

A student who is attempting to earn a full credit is permitted to begin the course on June 1st and continue until July 31st. Students may NOT continue working on a course after July 31st. Any student who has not completed their course by July 31st will be enrolled to restart that course in Hy-C during the fall of 2020 or will be dropped from the course. Partially completed work from a summer course will not transfer to the new school year.

Courses Available

In Hybrid Courses (Hy-C), content is presented via computer-based lessons, activities and assessments AND students are supported by classroom teachers for additional content support, monitoring, and guidance. Hy-C courses are aligned with the Virginia SOLs and serve to meet the basic requirements of credit for graduation. Summer Hy-C courses are offered in:

English: Gr9, Gr10, Gr11, Gr12

Math: Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II

Science: Biology, Earth Science, Astronomy, Earth Science II/Astronomy

Social Studies: World Civ I, World Civ II, US Government, US/VA History

Interdisciplinary: Personal Finance and Economics 9 (Available beginning April 14)

Health and Physical Education: PE/Health 9, PE/Health 10


A bus is available for transportation ONLY from July 6 to July 31. Students who choose to attend Summer Academy in-person should arrive on time (8:30 a.m.) and stay until at least 12:00 p.m. The afternoon bus will leave at 12:00 p.m. The bus schedule will be available online the last week of June/first week of July.

A snack break will be scheduled at a regular time during the day and a light snack will be provided free of charge. Please note that students will NOT be allowed to leave campus during the school day.



Schoology remains our main platform for teacher to student communication and instructional delivery. Schoology can never replicate the entire school-day in the virtual setting. Instead, students will experience some synchronous (live) instruction as well as asynchronous (recorded) lessons with assignments and tasks between sessions along with access to their teachers via office hours. Each of the synchronous lessons will be recorded in Schoology. This is important to note because, if you do not want your student recorded for the session, please encourage your child to disable their camera but not your sound. The lessons will be online and available to watch via Schoology for seven (7) days following instruction. The nice part about the recording is that there may be some students who aren't available for the synchronous session but are able to come back later to see what they missed.

Schoology addresses recent outages:

Please contact Steven Knight at for Schoology account issues.



The school district’s IT team is available to support all teachers and students. This includes support via email, online conferencing, and limited physical office hours at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School.

Please submit a support ticket here on behalf of your child.* -

*If the IT Team can provide support virtually by remoting into the computer, the team must have the consent of the parent.



Please visit our FCCPS Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information page for the latest information and links to resources.



The Virginia Department of Education was granted a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education.




A letter to parents of IB students can be found here: IB Letter to Parents

Click on this link for the latest communication from IB: Latest Communication from IB



AP exams will not be administered in the long-established, face-to-face manner. Please read the latest updates here AP UPDATES FROM THE COLLEGE BOARD.


Over the course of this school year, local artwork found in the hallways of GM will be published in our GMHS Hitching Post. Artist names will be acknowledged if available.
Open-Mindedness Image


Ivy Renner and Eliza Bonilla -- Class of 2018


Keep Calm and Check Parent University

Did you know that FCCPS has a resource for parents that pulls together all of the parent education opportunities across the schools? Anything that helps parents get smarter about school and parenting is included in Parent University.



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You can find current and past issues of the GMHS Hitching Posts from Principal Hills on the GMHS website at the link below:

Principal's Newsletter