The GMHS Hitching Post

George Mason High School Newsletter - July 24, 2020


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A Message from Principal Matt Hills

Dear Mustang Family,

I hope this finds you all well and healthy. I know it has been an unprecedented past couple of months and I hope you have found time to take part in some relaxation and recharge for the upcoming school year.

As this edition of The Hitching Post is rich with information and logistical items, we want to acknowledge what’s on the forefront of all of our minds. As we all are continuing to process this unique transition to online learning, we know that our current reality is raising some valid questions and concerns. Please know that we are working with our instructional leadership team to address the unknown. This includes but is not limited to attendance, assessment, grading and reporting (using our Standards Based Learning Model), consistent parent communication, and more. Please be on the lookout for future communications from me as we iron out many of these logistical details alongside our staff over the coming weeks and months ahead. We could not be doing this without you and your support.

Our Admin team have been working diligently, coming together to ensure that we as a Mason community have the resources to make this upcoming year a success for our students. We have recently announced that Mr. Peter Laub was selected to serve as our Assistant Principal, Ms. Sarah Snyder as our Director of Counseling, and Mr. Marvin Wooten as our Athletic Director. With their knowledge and leadership, we are excited to make this year a great one.

Our Administrative Team

Principal - Mr. Matt Hills
Assistant Principal - Mr. Peter Laub
Assistant Principal - Mr. David Serensits
Special Education Administrator - Ms. Sia Knight
Director of Counseling - Ms. Sarah Snyder
Athletic Director: Mr. Marvin Wooten
Director of Educational Technology: Mr. Steve Knight


Matt Hills

Henderson and Mason Schedules

As Dr. Noonan shared in his email on Wednesday (7/22/20), the decision to start school online was not made lightly. Health and safety are the primary drivers for this decision given the risks we face due to COVID-19. This is not the scenario any of us had hoped for, but recognize that it is temporary. We all want to be back in school with face to face learning for our students, unfortunately conditions do not allow for that right now.

Our combined Henderson & Mason school teams are working hard to develop an engaging and developmentally appropriate instructional program to support the comprehensive needs of our students. Recognizing the need for strong alignment due to our shared students and staff, we have developed a schedule to support the academic, social-emotional, and online learning support needs of our students. We learned a lot from our transition to online learning in the spring and our commitment to you is that our 6-12 secondary program will be more than what we offered in the spring.

Below are our respective school schedules and sample student schedules. A few highlights worth noting about our virtual schedule:

  • Our schedule is designed such that students engage with live and interactive instruction for their full course load of classes. We supplement this learning by offering flexible opportunities for educational support & enrichment from teachers throughout the day.

  • We will provide five days of instruction each week with teacher planning time allotted on Monday and Friday afternoons.

  • Rotating A/B schedule offers students the ability to engage in a full academic course load to include encore & elective courses.

  • Live teacher-directed instruction consisting of whole class instruction, small group instruction, student group work, and independent student work.

  • Teacher teams and departments will work together to align instruction

  • Recognizing that engaging students online from 8-3 daily does not align with online instructional best practices, out of class practice and preparation (homework) will be aligned to teacher provided live instruction.

  • Embedded intervention, enrichment, and extension time to support the learning needs of all students.

  • Live Intervention & Enrichment is supplemental time dedicated for our learning extensions as well as opportunities for targeted interventions.

  • A new Learning Support & Activity hour to provide time for students to individually access teachers & specialists for additional support, receive navigational online support as well as offering time for school clubs and school counseling groups to meet.

PACK/Advisory is a safe and inclusive space to build relationships and community.
Mary Ellen Henderson Online Schedule
George Mason High School Online Schedule

Laptop Exchange - Locker Clean Out - Yearbook Pick up for Rising 9th Grade Students

This event will take place on August 3rd from 9-3 at Mary Ellen Henderson and George Mason High School. Due to the construction, the Henderson parking lot in front of the building will not be accessible so we are asking parents to use the George Mason HS parking lot adjacent to route 7. Please drop off your student so they can walk over to Henderson to turn in their laptop/charger and retrieve items from their locker. Note that prepaid yearbooks will be available for rising 9th graders during this event.

Students will then report to George Mason High School’s front lobby to pick up a laptop/charger and test account logins.

We are requiring all students to wear masks and physically distance while in the buildings. Note that we will be limiting the amount of students allowed in the building at one time. If you are unable to attend on the 3rd, you can exchange laptops/chargers between 10-1 at Henderson on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but we ask that you complete this process by August 15th. If you cannot complete this process before August 15th please email Adam White ( to coordinate your visit to Mary Ellen Henderson and Steven Knight ( for your visit to George Mason High School.



Mustang Community-

Thank you for your patience and thoughtful dialogue regarding the Fall 2020 sports season.

At this time, we are waiting for the VHSL (Virginia High School League) to make a final decision about fall sports, as they are the principal sanctioning organization for interscholastic athletic competition among public high schools in Virginia. The VHSL guides our decisions and those of athletic programs throughout the state. They are to reconvene on July 27th.

At the VHSL Executive Committee meeting on July 15th, they announced 3 possible models regarding the "traditional fall sports": Cheer, Cross Country, Field Hockey, Football, Golf and Volleyball.

The three models presented to the Executive Committee for the opening of sports/activities are as follows:

Model 1 – Leave all sports in current season. Low and moderate contact risks sports that would be allowed to play are golf and cross country. High risk sports that would not be played are field hockey, football, volleyball, and cheer. Fall activities that would be allowed is theatre.

Model 2 – Switch Fall and Spring seasons. Low and moderate contact risk sports that would be allowed to play in the fall are track and field, tennis, soccer, baseball, and softball. High risk sports that would not be played are boys/girls lacrosse. Spring activities that would be allowed are theatre, forensics/debate, and film festival

Model 3 – Delay all VHSL sports and adopt the Condensed Interscholastic Plan. Leave all sports in the season where they are currently aligned.

  • Season 1 (Winter) December 14 – February 20 (First Contest Date – December 28)
  • Season 2 (Fall) February 15 – May 1 (First Contest Date – March 1)
  • Season 3 (Spring) April 12 – June 26 (First Contest Date – April 26)

We will update our student athletes and their families as we have more information. Right now we are collaborating with our coaches and regional colleagues to make sure we can safely and successfully act on the model the VHSL chooses to implement.


Yearbooks have arrived at Mason!

You can pick up your student's yearbooks starting Tuesday July 21, 2020 from 10-2 Tuesdays through Thursdays in the Main Office at GM. You must check-in with the Security Desk and practice social distancing, including wearing a mask.

If you have additional questions, please reach out to Ms. Kirk (



Dear Mustangs,

I am delighted to join the George Mason High School community for the 2020-2021 school year to help students and families navigate college and career options. In this newsletter, I want to help you get ahead by pointing out many things you can do before school begins, especially for the college application process because materials are available to get started. I hope you are enjoying summer and I look forward to meeting you in August.


Sheri Mural



Friday, July 31

Last day of Summer Academy

Monday, August 24

First Day of School



SENIOR PORTRAITS: Thursday, August 6 and Friday, August 7

SENIOR MAKE-UP PORTRAITS: Thursday, October 29 and Friday, October 30



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

Please read the latest updates here AP UPDATES FROM THE COLLEGE BOARD.


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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


Returning Student Enrollment

Returning student enrollment instructions for the 2020-21 school year was emailed to all families on or after July 6, 2020. It is extremely important this data be updated no later than August 1 to ensure the Student Health Information (Form D Regulation 9.60.1) is received. If a computer is needed to complete this registration, please contact Ms. Kemp in the Counseling office at

Withdrawing Students

If your student will not be returning to George Mason High School for the 2020-2021 school year, you must notify the GMHS Registrar by completing the attached online Withdrawal Form GMHS Withdrawal Form, or returning this completed form via email to, fax (703-248-5556), or by mail to the Counseling Office. Please note that if this form is not completed, the student's academic records may not be released to the parent or the new school. This form also notifies the registrar to send your student's final transcript to their new school and removes them officially from our Returning Student registration in Powerschool. Please make sure the school-issued laptop, textbooks, library books and athletic uniforms have been returned. Also, pay any fines/fees incurred over the school year before completing the withdrawal process. If you are unsure of any outstanding items or fines/fees owed, please contact the registrar at 703-248-5526.