During this season of JOY, we celebrate the everyday miracles of a family coming together after almost a year-long deployment...
FAIRFAX, Va. (WJLA) - Friday's awards ceremony at Fairfax County's Merritt Academy started off routine, but by the end, it was anything but.
As Anthony and Joshua Smith were being recognized for their strength and hard work during their father's year-long deployment, they got an early Christmas gift.
During the ceremony, Cmdr. Anthony Smith, who had been serving in Djibouti since January, got ready to step in.
"I think I'm trying to keep myself emotionally stable," Cmdr. Smith said as he prepared to see his wife and sons for the first time since this past summer.
It was Anthony, the older of the two brothers, who first realized that their father was home.
"I'm just really happy he's here right now," he said. "(It's) the greatest Christmas gift ever."
It took 26 hours and four layovers to get back to Virginia, and for a time, Smith didn’t know whether or not he'd spend Christmas Day with his family. He's been granted leave, though, before having to return to Norfolk to formally end his deployment.
"My heart just leaped - it just almost stopped beating," his wife, Janeifer, said. "It was just beautiful. It was just really, really beautiful."
View the news clip here.
Another treasured tradition at Merritt Academy is the annual celebration of Kindertown- a "working" city where Kindergarten students explore and role-play a variety of "grown-up" jobs, like writing checks at the bank, using real working tools at the Home Depot, testing iPad apps at the "Apple Store" and patching up pets at the veterinarian's clinic. Students also had the opportunity to model costumes at the photography studio, shop for groceries at the supermarket, decorate cookies at the bakery, and enjoy a healthy snack and a good book at the library. It's hard to say who had more fun - the students who buzzed around the city with excitment and wonder, or the parents who volunteered to guide the students through their day on the town!
Be sure to browse the photos from this fun Merritt hallmark on the "Take a Look" page!
As far as I can tell, Merritt Academy has the only juniper, pine and cherry trees that bear apples precisely one day a year, and for the lucky K4 students who just happen to be in the right place at the right time, it has become a treasured tradition to celebrate K4 Apple Orchard Day every September.
All this past week, our K4 students have been learning all about apples- they have learned the names of different kinds of apples, they have tasted different varieties and graphed their favorite flavors, one class even proved that one single apple peel can be longer than their teacher is tall! The culmination of these apple-icious activities is the Apple Orchard, where each student picks two apples right off the trees... just in time for afternoon snack!
Hot temperatures don't put a damper on our fun during the summer months at Merritt Academy! Whether enjoying our new Splash and Sprinkle equipment on the playgrounds or swimming around in our in-ground pool, our preschoolers and summer campers are excited to dive into summer fun.
Merritt Academy's Party Rock Camp got off to a stellar start with a giant waterslide and lots of tropi-cool fun. Our campers and counselors have been criss-crossing the DC/Metro area embarking on some fun and exciting field trips, including Medieval Times, Rebounderz and the Volcano Water Park. This week, our 2nd-6th grade Bengal and Siberian campers can't wait to hit the rides at Six Flags Amusement Park! On-campus, campers constructed cardboard pirate ships, made mini-beaches and learned to hula during their first two weeks... we can't wait to see all the adventures yet to come! It's not too late to register if you still want to join in the fun... Visit the Merritt Academy homepage for more information.
Not to be left out of the fun, our Preschool has undergone an amazing summer transformation into Happy Habitats- the theme for the Preschool Summer Program 2013! Classrooms have been re-decorated to resemble the arctic, savannah, swamps, woodlands, city and even outer space! Every other week, our adventurous students will travel to a new habitat to learn all about the environment and animals that call that habitat home.
In the administration building, we are already starting to get ready for the new school year... We still have limited availability in certain grades, so there's never been a better time to call and inquire. Feel free to call the Admissions Office directly at 703-539-8394 and schedule a personal tour today- I can't wait to meet you and show you everything Merritt Academy has to offer your family.
As you walk around campus, our halls are filled with song as students prepare their songs and choreography for the upcoming Spring Musicals. Our K2 students will take the stage first on Friday, performing their Spring Show, “In the Sea of Music”. Shortly after, the Kindergarten-8th graders will wow the audience with their musical numbers at their “Blasting Through the Decades” Spring Performance, and finally our K3 and K4 students wrap up the musical season with their annual Spring Recital, celebrating “Water, Water Everywhere”.
This week, our preschool students celebrate the “Week of the Young Child”, an annual recognition of the needs of young children and the early childhood programs that support their learning and growth. To commemorate this national event, each preschool student crafted a special pin for their parents to proudly wear all week in their honor.
Our Kg-8th grade students have entered the 4th quarter of the year, and are diligently preparing for the upcoming Design and Technology Rocket Fair on April 24th. Each class in Kg-8th grade has prepared a special project, performance or demonstration to share with their schoolmates. The Rocket Fair the culmination of a year-long focus on Design and Technology where principles of S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have been integrated across the curriculum. This past Monday, we were fortunate to host a special guest speaker, retired NASA astronaut Kenneth D. Cameron, who spoke to our Kg-8th grade students about his exciting mission aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, during which he rendezvoused with the Russian space station, Mir- very fun stuff!!!
February is another festive month, filled with red and pink hearts on Valentine's day, and presidential pride as we celebrate the birthdays of some of our Nation's most prominent Presidents.
In the preschool, students enjoyed making Valentine's themed crafts to show their LOVE for classmates and families, and learning about the famous presidents honored on President's day. They thought about what they would do if they were president, and how important HONESTY is in making good decisions.
In the school, students in 1st through 4th grade prepared mini-musical performances of classic stories like the Little Red Hen, the Ugly Duckling and Jack and the Beanstalk. Practicing for weeks, the student performers not only perservered through learning lines and songs, they also took away a deeper understanding of the values taught by each tale.
Although a short month, February is always a cheerful and busy one around Merritt's campus!
In the hallways and classrooms of Merritt Academy, the cold weather outside is celebrated as our students engage in fun activities relating to the winter season.
For our littlest students, winter weather offers many sensory opportunities- playing with ice at a sensory table, painting with fluffy "snow" and learning about the different animals that live in the arctic. Our preschool children spent the past week learning about hibernation, enjoying a pajama day as they snuggle in to wait for spring!
Our elementary and middle school students also spent time learning about the arctic region, along with other areas around the world as they prepared for January's school-wide Geography Bee. Congratulations to Thomas F., who won first place at the Geography Bee for the second year in a row! Speaking of impressive wins, we are celebrating our Merritt Academy boys basketball team's decisive 52-11 victory over neighboring Green Hedges School. It may be cold outside but our team is ON FIRE!
The students of three lucky elementary school classes are busy learning the ins-and-outs of their new iPads! These classes are piloting our newest technology initiative- a 1-to-1 iPad program, where each student is assigned their own iPad device for use across the curriculum. There is no additional cost to parents whose children participate in the program, and the students and teachers are excited to use this new technology in fun and innovative ways in the coming months. We hope to expand the program to additional classes in the coming year.
In the admissions office, I am preparing for the upcoming enrollment season, with re-enrollment kicking off on February 1st, and new student enrollment beginning on February 21st. If you are planning for your child to join Merritt Academy and have been putting off your visit, now is the time to call! We expect that spaces, particularly those in our early childhood and preschool programs will go quickly.
Until next month, think *snow!*
December is my favorite month at Merritt Academy, because wherever you go on campus, you are surrounded by holiday spirit. In the preschool, students decorate candy cottages, paint evergreen wreathes with glitten and prepare for a special visitor from the North Pole... In fact, Papa Noel himself paid an extra-special visit to our infants, toddlers and K2 students who greeted him with smiles and hugs as he passed out candy canes and a hearty "Ho Ho Ho!"
Our K3 and K4 students were excited to have their own audience with WISE Saint Nick, who temporarily took up residence in the train Caboose. As each student took a turn telling Santa their Christmas wish, their faces lit up with wonder- a beautiful picture of innocence and JOY.
As for our elementary and middle school students, they know Santa's sleigh won't be the only thing flying through the sky this December, as they make last-minute preparations for our first Design and Technology student rocket launch, scheduled for the morning of December 12th. After studying the history and desing Each class has designed and built their own rockets based on sketches of actual spacecraft observed during field trips this fall. The observations made from the upcoming launch will help students make revisions to improving performances before the final rocket launch in spring!
In early November, elementary and middle school classes discussed the Presidential election, and it's impact on government at the National, State and local levels. Students even got excerise civic RESPONSIBILITY by casting their own vote in the Presidential race during lunch!
In honor of Veterans Day, our Fifth Grade students celebrated by writing special poems to commemorate and thank Veterans for their service to our country. The students then shared their special poems with the residents at the Virginian. One poem said "I would like to tell you when we meet in person, I am proud of your sacrifice- your life that you gave to save my freedom."
In the preschool, Election Day was celebrated with our annual contest between Chocolate and Vanilla in the Great Ice Cream Election. The incumbant flavor, Chocolate, was re-elected for yet another year! As the month went on, our thoughts turned to Turkey as our K3 and K4 students prepared special Thanksgiving performances to share with their parents, before tucking into feasts of traditional thanksgiving foods and desserts.
As we prepare for our feasts later this week, Merritt Academy wishes each of you and your families the very happiest of Thanksgivings!!!
October at Merritt Academy is full of fun traditions- Fall Festival, our Halloween Parade, and other exciting events give students, staff and families opportunities to come together and celebrate the season.
After reviewing material during the month of September, our 2nd-8th grade students take the IOWA test, giving us a baseline of their individual and group performance and allowing us to custom-tailor our curriculum to best fit their learning profiles. For the first time, our 1st grade students took Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test-Second Edition (NNAT2), a non-verbal general ability test that is given to 1st and 2ndgrade FCPS students as one of the screening criteria for the Advanced Academic Program (AAP).
Our Infants, Toddlers and Preschool-aged children have been learning all about autumn, their communities and safety- we were even visited by a real-life fire truck! Soon it will be time to put on our costumes for some not-so-scary Halloween fun.
The autumn is a beautiful time on our campus and I'd love to show you around- please contact me directly if you are interested in taking a tour: Amy Pernick, firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-539-8394.
Until next month...
On Tuesday, August 28th, Merritt Academy students in Kindergarten through 8th grade gathered outside to witness a first in Merrritt's 50 year history- a rocket launching before their eyes! The blast-off commemorated the start of a year-long exploration of Rockets, which will incorporate design, analytics and principles of S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), as well as creativity, and innovation.
By studying the historical significance of space exploration, how shape and design can influence performance, and analyzing quantitative data collected during a series of test launches, students of all ages will build a greater understanding of design, technology and an appreciation for the world of engineering- developing real skills that can be applied in the 21st century.
Rounding out a summer of sun and adventure, our summer campers and preschool students celebrated the spirit of COOPERATION and SPORTSMANSHIP of the Olympics with sport and friendly competition, with races and games that brought forth the importance of being a team player and always having FUN! As we now turn our attention to last-minute preparations for the upcoming school year, we reflect on the friendships we've made, and look forward to learning new things and making new memories this next year. For the over 100 new students getting ready to join the Merritt Academy family on August 28th- WELCOME! To those returning, WELCOME BACK! We can't wait to see what 2012-2013 has to offer.... beginning with a very special milestone celebration.... 50 years!!!
The summer sun might be hot Hot HOT, but our preschoolers and summer campers are keeping it cool with lots of special fun!
During our annual Fourth of July Parade and Picnic, students showcased their patriotic pride by wearing red, white, and blue and parading around the campus and through the adjacent Sunrise community, proudly displaying their smiles, CITIZENSHIP and LOYALTY- HOORAY FOR USA!
July is also a time for celebrating campus traditions, both new and old. One of our favorite summer traditions, the Bike Rodeo, gave preschool students the chance to rally their bicycles (and tricycles) around the ring in loops and figure-eights. Preschool students also went "Camping" for a week, where they made yummy, sticky s'mores, set up tents and cuddled up in sleeping bags listening to stories around the "campfire". What adventures they've had!!!
Our reality-tv themed Merritt TV summer camp has already become the "NEW HIT SHOW OF THE SUMMER SEASON" featuring fun field trips like Six Flags, Sandy Point Beach, Heidelberg Bakery and fabulous on campus events like the Giant Water Slide, Invention Convention and Campus Olympics. With the addition of brand-new electives (like Gooey Science, Lego Time, and Wonderful Wood Crafts)- 2012 is turning out to be a MUST-SEE summer to remember!
The summer fun doesn't stop here- we've still got plenty more adventures coming up in August... Until next time!
Summer is finally here and we couldn't be more excited! Soon, our preschool students will be packing their travel bags to go "Dancing Around the World"- visiting new and exciting countries like Thailand, Romania, Brazil, Israel, Mexico and more! In preparation, students NEATLY assembled their passports, and are anxiously awaiting the start of this new adventure.
Our K-8th graders may have POLITELY said their goodbyes for the summer, but come next week many will be tuning in for this summer's M(erritt)TV Camp, with weekly events and trips inspired by all the hottest reality television shows and competitions- "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?", "Project Runway", "Survivor", "Minute to Win It" and many more.... With trips planned to Kings Dominion, Six Flags and Water Parks, summer for these campers will be off to a cool start!
Merritt's campus is alive with song this April, as classes prepare for various performances coming in May- COURAGEOUSLY singing out and TOLERANTLY practicing over and over to make sure each note is pitch-perfect!
Our Kindergarten through Eighth grade students will be performing "Merritt On Broadway!", a collection of songs from various Broadway shows, including a medley of tunes from "The Music Man" presented by the Middle School. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, our K3 and K4 students will be starring on the big stage in shows of their own, entitled "Sing-A-Long Songs." For our very youngest performers, our K2 students are stepping into the spotlight for the very first time, and loving every minute of it. They will be performing "Favorite Songs from Favorite Stories", including Bingo, Baby Beluga, Shake your Sillies Out and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
The unseasonably warm weather has been enjoyed by all, and out brand new outdoor classroom, located in a clearing of the woods behind the school is getting plenty of use. Soon it will be time to plant the garden with all the flowers and vegetables to be enjoyed all summer long. Before we know it, the school year will begin to wrap up, but we still have lots more fun before we say "so long" for the summer....
Until next month...
With all the crazy weather we've been having this March, it's hard to tell what season it is, but the bright crocuses and daffodils poking up around campus are a sure sign that spring has sprung!
March at Merritt means special hallmarks for our students, incluing a St. Patrick's day visit from some playful Leprechauns. If we aren't careful, they'll work magic and mischief (and leave behind little green footprints) all over the windows, doors and floors of the classrooms and hallways. We know they don't mean any harm, so we are always quick to show our magical Irish friends FORGIVENESS for the mess they make!
Early in the month, Merritt celebrated "Dr. Seuss Day" on March 2nd- the 100th birthday of Dr. Seuss! The preschool students enjoyed reading Seuss favorites such as "Green Eggs and Ham" and "The Cat in the Hat", while parading around in handmade red and white hats. At snack time, they even got to see if they like to eat green eggs and ham, just like Sam I Am!
Our K-8th grade teachers and students dressed up as "Things" and spent the day rotating between fun stations like Gameville, Snackville and Musicville. In the afternoon, everyone brought pillows and cushions to the gym to read together with their teachers and friends. Watching some of the middle school students reading to their little project pals was the absolute picture of KINDNESS... just part of the Dr. Seuss legacy!
Another special day was our K2 Supermarket Dash, where our K2 classes got to shop til they dropped in a make-believe supermarket set up especially for them. Be sure to check out the pictures on the Photos and Videos tab!
So much fun during the month of March- Can't wait to tell you about all the fun "hopping" onto campus next month...
The month of February conjurs images of red roses and pink hearts in the minds of romantics, LOVE is in the air...and HONESTLY, at Merritt Academy we are no exception!
But Valentines Day isn't the only exciting thing happening during the month of February- our Kindergarten and First Grade students have been counting up to the 100th and 101st days of school, which happen to fall during first week of February. To celebrate, the students will be doing fun, math-related all day long. Our Middle School students are being given an opportunity participate in a new service-learning overnight trip to Morgantown, West Virginia (home of West Virginia University), where they will join with local middle school students in service projects at an Assisted Living Community and attend a special seminar hosted by the WVU students. We are very excited for this unique opportunity for our middle schoolers to broaden their horizons and serve the community. Later in the month, our Preschool K2s, K3s and K4s learned how to protect their smiles during Dental Health Awareness month, including a special visit from the dentist!
With all the fun packed into February, I'm so glad we have an EXTRA DAY on the calendar this year. Happy Leap Year, everyone!
Happy New Year from Merritt Academy! 2012 has gotten off to a stellar start, with lots of frosty winter fun for our preschoolers and engaging projects underway in our K-8th classrooms. After school, the Merritt Tigers boys' and girls' basketball seasons are underway, supported by the cheerleaders who take extra CARE when tumbling, jumping and performing their stunts before the crowd. Although snow has been light this winter, there has been no shortage of cold weather- an inspiration for the Winter Wonderland and Arctic Animals themes in our Infant through K3 classrooms. Our 1st, 4th, 6th and 8th grade students have been spending time in our Nation's Capital, with field trips to the Freer Gallery of Art, National Museum of the American Indian and the National Archives. We are so fortunate to have such ready access to these national treasures- but just wait untill you hear about the fun coming up in February...!
The holidays are a special time at Merritt Academy with lights and decorations creating a merry mood campus-wide!
One look at the preschool bulletin boards show the JOYFULNESS of our students (and the WISDOM of their very creative teachers!) In the classrooms, the preschool children are working diligently to make special gifts for their parents, while our K4-8th grade students have the opportunity to do a little christmas shopping at our PTO's annual Holiday House gift shop.
Out in the community, our Fourth Grade students spread some holiday cheer for the residents of Sunrise of Arlington by singing carols and passing out cocoa and candy canes, while the Student Council Association (SCA) sponsored the "Lamb Tree" to collect gifts and supplies to benefit the Lamb Center of Fairfax. The Lamb Center provides hot meals, showers, laundry and counseling services to homless adults, and the center's location just minutes from the school provides our older students the opportunity to hand-deliver the special gifts and supplies, which the center and its' guests so desperately need.
My personal Christmas wish is for everyone to have a happy holiday filled with family and fun. May 2012 bring prosperity and peace to you and your loved ones!
Until next "year"....
The leaves may be falling, but our students spirits are soaring now that November is here. Preparations for Thanksgiving are happening all over the preschool as students prepare for the annual Thanksgiving Feast and Dessert Feast in K3 and K4 respectively. Prior to tucking into the delicious food, they entertain the guests with songs of THANKFULNESS.
In the school, our first grade students enjoy Pickle Day and Stone Soup Day and Kindergarteners fill their horns of plenty on Cornucopia Day; while Second Grade gobbles up their Heritage Feast- all examples of the special Merritt Academy hallmarks that make learning come alive.
Our Middle School Handbell Ringers received news that they have been invited to perform downtown at the National Christmas Tree for the second year in a row. The RESPONSIBILITY of such an important performance means lots of practice to perfect old favorites and learn a few new songs. We are so proud of these gifted musicians, and look forward to cheering for them on December 20th at 7pm.
Until next month... stay warm!
With the first few weeks of school under our belts, October sees Merritt Academy students and teachers settling into routines and getting into the groove of the academic year. For our infants and toddlers, this means frequent walks and buggy rides around campus, trying all kinds of new activities like painting, sign language and sensory tables and enjoying the care and comfort of their dedicated teachers.
For the K2s and K3s, exploring letters of the week help them to expand their understanding of language, while show and share offers opportunities to confidently stand and present to their class. Many hallmarks like our Halloween round robin parties and the costume parade allow students to opportunity to practice SELF CONTROL and SHARING, which happen to be the focus values for the month.
Our 2nd through 8th grade students participated in IOWA testing during early October, which enables our teachers to gauge comprehension across subjects and give us a baseline from which to begin new instruction. Our 4th and 5th grade students celebrated Colonial Day by stepping back in time to live a day as 18th century colonial American children- writing with quills, dipping candles and dressing in the costume of the period.
With all of the activity on campus, it's no wonder that October flies by so quickly! Until next month....
As the weather turns cooler, the students and staff at Merritt Academy are sailing into autumn. While discussing the SEPTEMBER values of Respect and Attentiveness in their classrooms, students are practice respect and attentiveness around campus and with their families at home.
Pencils are sharpened and textbooks open to new chapters as our older students (2nd grade through 8th grade) begin to prepare for the early October IOWA testing, and all K-8 students enjoyed special Constitution Day activities, studying the preamble all the way through the Bill of Rights.
This Friday, September 23, our Kindergartners will dive into the legend of American folk hero Johnny Appleseed by donning cooking pots and parading around the campus, while our K4 students will be reading apple-themed stories and picking apples off our "apple trees" on the recreation field.
In our Infant and Toddler classes, children and teachers are getting to know all about one another, talking about ourselves, our families, and the adventure of going off to school. Some classes even got the special treat of getting to visit and tour a real school bus!
Our K2, K3 and K4 preschool students are searching high and low for adventures all over campus-discoving the new basketball hoops and cafe-style picnic tables on the playground, planting their pots of grass for their classrooms, caring for their classroom pet fish or hermit crab and finding other unique ways to "bring the outdoors indoors"- our theme for the year!
Watch out for spooky fun coming to campus, as October will soon be bringing treats for everyone!
During the month of AUGUST....our friends in Preschool are kickin' through the August sun, playing soccer in the Preschool World Cup and dancing to the Hip Hop stylings of Mr. Ricardo. Students practice good SPORTSMANSHIP, because whether win or lose- we all had a great time!
Summer Campers have been working their creative juices this month, performing Lip Synchs to hit music and "making it work" on the runway, creating fashions out of recycled materials for their counselors to model. Off campus, campers are blasting off to visit spaceships and the IMAX theater at the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum, and dodging their opposition during a few rounds of Laser Tag. Of course, there's always fun to be had closer to home with swimming in the pool, making arts and crafts and playing games in the gym.
While Summer Camp and Preschool are beginning to wind down for the summer, a new energy is slowly building on our campus- We are gaining momentum for an awesome start to the new school year, and we can't wait to share it with you and your family!
On-campus preparations for August 30th are in full swing! Our facilities team has been working seven days a week to paint rooms, clean floors, hang bulletin boards and move furniture to ensure everything will be fresh and clean for the new school year. In the classrooms, teachers have carefully selected room themes, and are gathering decorations for the annual transformation. It has taken a lot of COOPERATION to get everything done in such a short time, but when our teachers and staff work together, there's nothing we can't accomplish! U
ntil next time, friends....
Summer at Merritt is always busy, but this JULY has been especially packed with fun as preschoolers and campers alike celebrated America's birthday with a red, white, and blue parade, and campus-wide picnic.
In Preschool, our students continue their travels around the world, learning about the cultures, languages, art and geography of the countries they visit every week. Additionally, they have enjoyed special events like the Bob Brown Puppet Show, and International Food Crawl, and even a visit from some very special furry and feathery friends from the Squeals on Wheels petting zoo!
While learning about the values of CITIZENSHIP and LOYALTY this July, campers participated in a service project designed to provide comfort and aid to wounded soldiers. Supplies were collected for the Soldiers' Angels First Response Backpack project, which provides toiletries, warm clothes and a blanket to soldiers at military hospitals abroad. The students enjoyed collecting items and making cards to give back to these brave men and women.
Summer may be halfway finished, but the fun is still going strong! Stay tuned for next month as we start gearing up for another school year in August!
In the month of JUNE we focus on politeness and neatness as we wrap up the school year and transition into summer fun! We celebrate Graduation Day for our Preschool K4 and 8th grade students with ceremonies and special luncheons, and all students enjoy some wet and wild field day action.
In Preschool, our younger students (infants through age 5) will be "Travelling Around the World" this summer, visiting a new "country" each week to learn about the cultures of Taiwan, Somalia, India, France, Ireland Bolivia, the Bahamas and Russia. They will enjoy a summer kick-off Luau, and the beginning of the Splash and Sprinkle fun, which takes place every Tuesday throughout the summer.
Campers ages 6 through 14 will be doing a time-warp with summer with the Adventures in Time Travel at Merritt Academy Summer Camp 2011. Starting back in the prehistoric era, the first week of camp features Cavemen and Dinosaurs, along with field trips to the Natural History Museum in Washington, DC and an indoor rock-climbing excursion!
In the office we are already getting paperwork in order for this coming fall. We have extremely limited availability in select grades and age groups, so please contact me today if you are interested in joining our school for the 2011-2012 school year.
Until next month....