School News Blog
  • Former BOOTS student leaves permanent mark

    Posted by SCPS Communication on 1/13/2020

    Jennifer, a former Bringing Occupational Opportunities to Students (BOOTS) program drafting student and 2018 graduate of Stafford High School, recently left her mark on an outdoor pavilion located at the SkillsUSA headquarters in Leesburg, VA.

    A stellar student, Jennifer earned gold in both the 2017 and 2018 SkillsUSA Architectural Drafting competitions. That success allowed her to provide design ideas for the organization's Championship Circle.

    Jennifer used the initial CAD drawings provided by Matthew Thomas, a student from Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater, OK, to prepare the final architectural drawings.  From those sketches, Jennifer also provided insight into improving traffic flow around the circle.

    Her drafting ability was not the only lesson Jennifer drew from when working on the Champions Circle.  Students from all five Stafford County Public High Schools collaborate in the BOOTS program to build homes from the initial sketches through the full construction of single-story structures. The Champions Circle was an extension of those lessons in collaboration. More than 80 SkillsUSA advisors and students from four schools nationwide donated labor and time, while industry partners contributed materials, equipment, and labor in excess of $100,000 to complete the Champions Circle.

    To learn more about Jennifer’s contribution and the Champion’s circle, read the article featured in the Winter 2020 edition of SkillsUSA Champions magazine. 

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  • Building relationships through art

    Posted by SCPS Communication on 12/18/2019 8:30:00 AM

    Stafford County Public School’s (SCPS) Coordinator of Fine and Performing Arts, Annamarie Bollino, has made considerable progress in bridging the gap between those at the Alvin York Bandy Administrative Complex (Bandy) and the SCPS community of students, parents, and teachers.

    Her success in building relationships stems from her background as an educator. While receiving her Bachelors in Music Education from West Virginia University, she realized she wanted not just to be a teacher, but to eventually become an administrator.

    “I wanted to be able to make a bigger impact. I also really enjoy what we call the Arts Management side; kind of the behind the scenes work… for me, it sounds silly, but I don’t mind the paperwork,” Bollino said while laughing. “Somebody has to do that, so a lot of what I do is manage big events and oversee programs.”

    While she initially pursued training in education, she eventually became the Coordinator of Fine and Performing Arts because of her experience and passion for the Arts. To support this, she received an Administration and Supervision license from Virginia Commonwealth University. Bollino has been involved with the Fine Arts, specifically Dance and Music, since she was five years old taking dance classes and organ lessons at her church. In high school, she was involved with the school band. 

    “I started to see the value and the fun in playing the organ at my church. I’m a marching band kid, so I had that sense of community,” says Bollino. 

    Her efforts and passion combined seamlessly at The Eighteenth Annual School Board Office Art Exhibition. As she became more aware of the gap between the public and SCPS administration, she wanted to find a way to bring the two together beyond the annual exhibition. 

    Bollino noted that in the year following a showcase before the art was updated for the next year, people would stop her and tell her how moved they were by certain art pieces and how much the pieces improved the conditions of Bandy.

    “When we change up the show every year, we have so many colleagues and coworkers in Bandy who come up to me and say ‘Oh my gosh, we love this new picture you put up in the hallway,’”says Bollino. 

    She quickly realized she was receiving praise for artists work and they had no way of knowing how important their work had become to the people who saw it daily. Her solution to this problem? Letters. 

    “The art has such an impact on people who work with me, and so we decided, this year, on a large scale, to actually invite all of the people who work in the complex to write notes to the artists,” says Bollino.

    During this year’s showcase, next to every piece of artwork there was a little yellow envelope. The purpose of the envelope was to allow those who saw pieces and wanted to articulate their appreciation to write notes to the artists. Seeing the impact this had on students was emotional to Bollino. 

    “The students and the parents were just so moved by the letters and the memento that they received… it was a way for us to engage with the community in a way that we often don’t, and so I just enjoyed that part of the evening because it was something we hadn’t really tried before and it was really well received,” says Bollino.

    student painting of paintbrushes with color splatter  

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  • SCPS Participates in Take Your Legislator to School Month

    Posted by SCPS Communication on 12/5/2019

    The Virginia Schools Boards Association (VSBA) created Take Your Legislator to School Month to build stronger relationships between public education and the Virginia General Assembly. Stafford County Public Schools (SCPS) recently welcomed Delegate-Elect Joshua Cole, along with Stafford County School Board member Pamela Yeung and SCPS Superintendent Dr. Scott Kizner, to visit Hampton Oaks and Anne E. Moncure Elementary Schools.

    “Every school has its culture; Hampton Oaks is one of community, partnership, and friendship while I observed that Anne E. Moncure is full of expression and innovation,” said Cole.

    The core of the school division’s strategic plan is C5W, which instills important communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, citizenship, and wellness abilities into every SCPS student. Cole walked through the kindergarten through fifth grade hallways at both elementary schools, impressed by the school division’s devotion to this philosophy.

    “As we were walking through Anne E. Moncure Elementary School, some of the students knew who I was,” said Cole. “It was amazing that at such a young age the students were so involved in government and knew what was going on around them.”

    VSBA’s Take Your Legislator to School Month is an annual celebration in November, during which legislators come into schools to observe the many positive interactions taking place each day.  Students also benefit from this interaction by meeting and speaking with elected officials.

    Delegate Cole and SCPS Staff

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  • Elementary Activity Hallways help students get "the wiggles" out

    Posted by SCPS Communication on 12/4/2019 2:00:00 PM

    When administrators of Conway Elementary School approached Graphic Imaging/Printing Teacher Susan Caldwell of North Stafford High School about implementing an activity hallway in the school, they had a feeling they were dealing with something bigger than a simple playspace. They were right. 

    While the hallways were initially the school administrator’s idea, they would be impossible without Susan Caldwell and her team of talented students. Although Caldwell is the link between the principals and the implementation of the hallways, her students are crucial to the design, planning, and final placement. 

    “It [a project] usually starts with an email; we’ll have a little pow-wow and come up with our ideas for the client, using what they envision seeing on their floor,” Caldwell said. “We’ll create from there.”

    Over the summer, Caldwell hired a team of these spectacular students to make sure that Conway Elementary’s hallway was ready for the students in time for the new year. They worked tirelessly to design and place the hallway, getting paid for their specialized work. 

    Having these hallways initially seemed like a simple thing, meant to engage and entertain students when they get disruptive or antsy and need some time to get their energy out in an educational way. However, the individuals working on putting the hallway together quickly learned that there’s much more to space than a simple indoor play area.

    Caldwell recounts an experience she had when working over the summer where autistic children immediately formed a bond with the hallway. While the graphic imaging/printing students were in the process of putting up the first hallway over the summer, they had a very special experience with the students there for summer activities. There are little handprints on the wall for one of the exercises and as the children tried to engage, they found that, at one height level, the prints were too short and too tall for some students. To solve the issue, those placing the brick wraps (what the wall section of the hallways are made of) adjusted the prints to the heights of the various children trying to engage. 

    “I went over to Conway when they [the design students] were installing it [the hallway]; They had a little summer camp for autistic kids, and we were trying to finish the installation and the kids wanted to play on it right then and there. We actually had them come out and help us install it by showing us how high their hands were when we were putting the handprints on the wall,” Caldwell said. 

    The hallways are not uniform. Conway Elementary’s is split into sections following the Virginia regions, Rockhill Elementary’s plan is based on Bus Safety and Outer Space, and Hampton Oaks Elementary’s plan is focused on sea creatures. Planning is underway for the other schools as well. 

    This is not the first time the North Stafford design program has completed work for Stafford County schools. A majority of the printed media throughout the schools (laminate decals on floors, brick wraps, window wraps, door wraps, etc.) was completed by this team. 

    “All the elementary schools will get a floor wrap, a couple of middle schools have expressed interest in getting a floor wrap (for anti-bullying, etc.) and we are currently working on one here at North Stafford,” Caldwell said. “Every school we’ve hit and we’ve done something”. 

    Currently, there are plans for four more hallways planned for Rockhill, Grafton Village, Hampton Oaks, and Hartwood. The county hopes to have these hallways in all 17 elementary schools.

    Frog and log activity hallway decals

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  • High School Students Build Homes

    Posted by SCPS Communication on 11/1/2019

    Students at all five Stafford County Public School high schools are taking vocational education to greater heights by building single-family homes in the county.  The Bringing Occupational Opportunities to Students (BOOTS) program consists of drafting, masonry, electrical, and construction classes led by teachers at Stafford High School.  The BOOTS program is the only program of its kind in the local area.

    Together, nearly 2,000 students have completed the full construction cycle, building 25 homes from the initial drafting plan, through construction, and finally, to the sale of the home.  Students are supervised and taught by four dedicated faculty members: Bobby Jett (Drafting), along with Dan Harding (Carpentry), Robby Phipps (Masonry), and Jack Huffstickler (Electricity) oversee the students in the classroom and at the construction site.  Mr. Huffstickler also participated in the BOOTS program as an Electricity student.

    “The success of the program depends on devoted teachers with a passion for developing the next generation of vocational technicians,” said SCPS Superintendent Dr. Scott Kizner. “Stafford County Public Schools is fortunate to have these four gentleman who are willing to give so much of themselves to their students and the BOOTS program.”

    Under the supervision of the BOOTS leadership team, students build homes from the ground-up.

     “BOOTS homes are built nearly 100% by students and teachers in our program,” said Jett.  “Carpentry students provide framing, cabinetry, and trim.  The masonry students complete the brickwork.  All of the lighting, wiring, and appliance connections are the work of the electrical students.  We do not have HVAC or plumbing classes, so those are the two major aspects of the homes our students do not complete.” 

    The goal of BOOTS is to prepare students for careers in construction trades.  Founders Wendell Latham, Jimmy Carver, and Charlie Loving, wanted a real life building program that allowed students to experience actual construction activity on a real job site.  Together with the school board in 1988, the Stafford County Vocational Education Foundation oversaw the new construction education program.

    Seed money allowed for the purchase of lots in the Hickory Ridge subdivision in Stafford County.  Drafting students in 1990 manually drafted plans for the first BOOTS home, located on Cherry Laurel Drive.

    “The first house was a simple ranch house with a one car garage,” said Jett.  “At the time, we drew the house plans manually; today we use the latest 3D modeling software.  That’s how far the program has come.”

    A typical contracted home can be completed in three-to-six months according to Jett.  BOOTS students travel to the construction site (weather permitting) up to five times per week during their regularly scheduled class time.  There, students spend one to three hours working on the home.

    “It takes a full two years to complete one of our homes,” explained Jett.  “The drafting students begin drawing plans and obtaining permits while the previous year’s design is under construction.”

    The Stafford County Vocational Education Foundation and its Board of Directors oversee the BOOTS program.  Among board members are a real estate agent, two builders, and a former building maintenance engineer and electricity teacher, who help to find affordable construction lots for the program within 20 minutes of Stafford High School.

    “Seed money was provided with the understanding that the BOOTS program would become self-sufficient,” said Jett. “And that has been the case for the last 20 years.”

    Since 1991, students have completed 25 BOOTS homes.  Proceeds from the sale of each home provide further funding for the BOOTS program. 

    “Most of the money generated through selling a house goes back into a building lot,” explained Jett.  “The proceeds also provide scholarships for the students.  This can be a financial scholarship, but we also provide students with a set of tools that they can take into the working world.  We really want to set our students up for success.”

    “This program really allows for students with an interest in vocations to succeed in the future,” said Kizner.  “We are providing an excellent opportunity for them.”

    Masonry, carpentry, and electrical students are hard at work on home 26, with the hopes of selling the house in April.  Located on Deacon Road, the home is a one-story bungalow-style ranch with a brick front, 3 bedrooms, 2 ½ baths, 2-car garage, an open floor plan and a full basement, according to Karen Zink, the real estate agent and Board of Directors member responsible for selling the BOOTS homes.

    “I am so proud of the quality and craftsmanship of these students,” said Zink.

    Drafting students are working on plans for BOOTS house 27, however, there is concern. 

    “After this year, we have one more lot,” said Jett.  “Finding affordable lots within 20 minutes travel time of Stafford High School is not easy in a growing county.”

    BOOTS student in House 25

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