The GMHS Hitching Post

George Mason High School Newsletter - May 22, 2020


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Dear Mustang Families,

We have hit the homestretch to what can only be characterized as the most unique school year in the history of George Mason High School. As always, we appreciate your endless support during these difficult times.

It is with great pleasure that I would like to introduce several new members of the George Mason High School team.

Peter Laub -- Assistant Principal

Sarah Snyder -- Director of Counseling

Rory Dippold -- Acting IB MYP Coordinator

Peter Laub has served the community of Falls Church as a teacher at George Mason for nine years, where he has taught English, Journalism and Creative Writing and served as advisor to the Lasso and Student Council. He previously taught overseas in Istanbul, Turkey. He is a National Board Certified Teacher who holds a Master’s of Education from The Ohio State University and a Master’s in Administration & Supervision from the University of Virginia.

Mr. Laub grew up in Falls Church, graduated from George Mason High School, and is very excited to continue his professional career in the community he loves.

Sarah Snyder Photo Image

Sarah Snyder studied psychology and women’s studies at The College of William and Mary before earning her MS in rehabilitation counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University. At the beginning of her career, she worked as a substance abuse counselor at a residential treatment facility in Fairfax. Sarah then went on to earn a post-master’s degree in school counseling from VCU.

She spent five years in Arlington Public Schools as a counselor at Wakefield High School and the last three years as Coordinator of Counseling for APS. A life-long Falls Churchian and proud George Mason High School graduate, Sarah is excited to be returning to the Mustang Nation!

Sarah spends her free time taking care of her two dogs—Claddagh and Doolin, singing, playing volleyball, hiking, and enjoying yard/board games with her husband, Mike Cummings, also a GMHS graduate and former lacrosse/wrestling coach.


Congratulations to Ilana Reyes on her new position as Director of Counseling at Flint Hill School in Oakton, VA. We will miss Ilana's leadership on the Counseling and Student Services team. We will miss her willingness to always lend a helping hand, regardless of the situation. One of Ilana's strongest traits is to always put others before herself. Her selfless approach is why she is a great leader and will have ultimate success in her next endeavor.


Dr. Dippold currently serves as Assistant Principal at Mary Ellen Henderson and will be assuming the role of Acting IB MYP Coordinator serving both Henderson and Mason students through June 2022 and the IB evaluation process. Rory has been a member of the FCCPS community for over 14 years and is looking forward to his new leadership role.


The Admin Team


Distance Learning Engagement Chart Image

View the entire infographic here



Please read this important message from Jostens regarding yearbook delivery.

Customer Delivery Date Communication



There will be no face-to-face Summer Academy.

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.



Returning Student Enrollment

Returning student enrollment instructions for the 2020-21 school year will be emailed to all families on or after July 1, 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. Kirk 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.



Due to the Memorial Day Holiday on Monday, May 25th, instruction time will be held on Friday, May 29th.

9:00 -- 10:00 a.m. Office Hours

10:00 -- 10:30 a.m. Block 1

10:40 -- 11:10 a.m. Block 3

11:20 -- 11:50 a.m. Block 5

12:00 -- 12:30 p.m. Block 7

1:00 -- 2:00 p.m. Office Hours



This class time is an opportunity for teachers to connect with students one last time and provide some extra time for culminating activities.

Big picture


Click on the link below for complete drop off procedures.

Drop Off Procedures

At George Mason, the weekend of June 6 and 7 will be student drop off days. Student pick up will happen in early August.

    • Tables will be placed outside in the loop on the Rt. 7 side. The contactless process will be for families to drive up in cars and place items in orange moving bins and leave.

    • Staff will roll the bins back to tables where the items will be wiped off prior to staff bringing them into the building. Items being returned include:

      • Textbooks

      • Library Books

      • Band instruments

      • Athletic Uniforms (parents will be asked to wash them prior to returning them)

    • Students and staff will be assigned drop off times in order to maintain physical distancing.

    • Medication will also be reviewed by the School Health Aide and will remain at school. FCCPS will move medication for any students transitioning to the next level. If parents need the medication returned, please contact Assistant Principal, Mr. Dave Serensits -

    • For technology, current seniors will return their MacBook and charger on June 11. Students in all other grades will keep their computers to support summer school enrollment and ongoing instruction. MacBook software will be updated remotely, and incoming freshmen will complete a laptop exchange in early August when they return their Henderson laptop and are issued a Mason laptop.

    • All fines/fees will be invoiced and sent on May 22 to students electronically.


Underclass Drop off and Pick up Schedule Image


We are excited to share that our graduates will participate in a professional graduation video production created with the expertise of Molly Hermann and her team at The Biscuit Factory - a local business. The video will be aired at 7:00 p.m. on June 10th in lieu of an in-person graduation. Seniors will return to Mason High School on June 11th to pick up their diplomas, stoles, medallions, cords, etc. and turn in their laptops. We will continue to meet with the students to discuss and plan a face-to-face ceremony in the late summer or fall when it is safe to do so.

Our graduation production is a collective effort from the entire senior class, where individual student videos will be combined to create a seamless streaming production. The video will include student and staff speeches along with the action of students moving their tassels and throwing their caps. We would like to send a special thanks out to our senior class leaders who have remained dedicated to planning a graduation event for the entire Falls Church City Community to enjoy, where we can honor and recognize the incredible accomplishments of the George Mason High School Class of 2020.



Items to be returned from seniors are:

MacBook Laptop



Library books

Band Instruments

Athletic Uniforms (please wash uniforms prior to returning them)

All of the items mentioned above will be returned in exchange for senior diplomas. Seniors will also pick up their stoles, medallions, cords, yearbooks, etc. All fines/fees will be invoiced on May 22 and sent to students electronically.



A separate email will be sent to senior families detailing the schedule for June 11th.



Thursday, May 21

Summer Academy Registrations Due

Friday, May 22

AP Exams End

Monday, May 25

Memorial Day Holiday

Thursday, May 28

Summer Academy Orientation via Schoology at 1:00 p.m.

Friday, May 29

Last Day for New Instruction

Last Day for Seniors

Monday, June 1

Virtual Summer Academy Begins

Monday - Thursday, June 1-4

Last Week of School for Students in Grades 9-11

(End-of-year activities with classes online, final presentations, etc.)

Friday, June 5

Last Day for Teachers

Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7

Underclass Drop-Off Days

Wednesday, June 10

Semester 2 Grades

Available in PowerSchool/Schoology

Wednesday, June 10

Official Graduation Day Video

7:00 p.m.

Thursday, June 11

Senior Drop Off and Pick Up Day

Friday, July 31

Last day of Summer Academy



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

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



Any student wishing to participate in a fall sport (pre-season, practice, tryout) must have a completed VHSL Athletic Participation/Parental Consent/Physical Examination Form dated after May 1, 2020. This form is different from the school entry physical and the school entry physical is not sufficient for athletic participation - even for tryouts and practices.


The Form is available on-line at:

Tryouts are held regardless of holidays or vacations, and candidates are expected to be present for all sessions.

Varsity Cheer Coach (Fall) -- Allison Cray

Varsity Cross Country Coach -- Jeff Buck

Varsity Field Hockey Coach -- Kali Vicars

Varsity Football Coach -- Adam Amerine

Varsity Golf Coach -- Mike Wolfe

Varsity Volleyball Coach -- Derek Baxter

NEW STUDENTS - Please check with the Counseling Office to be sure you are ELIGIBLE and ask them to contact Coach Bravin at when you register!



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.



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.


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.
Identity Font Design Image


Ms. Gurgo's Computer Graphics Class I: Gayle Lobaton, Meike Van Der Steen, Anna Comenetz,

Colleen Romps, Ella Petree, Mena Hailemariam, Caroline "Cece" Walker,

Katherine Valerio Chavez, Dean Wisemiller, Max Saaty, Eliza Gibb and Henry de Vignier-Awad.


Big picture


Postponement of the Falls Church Education Foundation’s (FCEF) Gala & Auction, combined with the immediate need for funds to respond to the current crisis, will leave FCEF short on funds for critical teacher grants, programs and operations. To raise these funds and ensure FCEF is able to provide needed dollars to teachers in this unprecedented time, we are launching an “Orange A-Peel” fundraising campaign with a community twist.

Please consider donating to the Falls Church Education Foundation through this fundraising campaign at the GoFundMe page. Learn more about individual prizes and fundraising milestone celebrations here.


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


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.



Click here to subscribe to the PTSA Newsletter


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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