Making the transition into kindergarten was an easy one for Vincent, who has been at Merritt Academy since age 3. In addition to enjoying a small class and lots of exciting, hands-on learning opportunities, like Tall Tale Tuesday where he swung a lasso like Pecos Bill and laid railroad tracks like John Henry, Vincent also participates in the highest level of Merritt Academy’s Gifted Program, going up to first grade for both reading and math lessons, where he read Olivia Sharp and the Sly Spy by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Mitchell Sharmat, and is learning about Venn diagrams and how to solve 3 + __ = 7. Even as one of the youngest elementary students, Vincent will learn leadership as he becomes a role model and mentor during “Kindergarten Connection” activities, helping a K4 buddy get ready for kindergarten during Hallmarks like the 100th Day of School and Dr. Seuss’s Birthday. Most of all though, Vincent enjoys playing on the expansive playground with his friends!
Although new to Merritt Academy at the beginning of the school year, Ayah has smoothly transitioned into first grade, and was even recognized as the Student of the Month for September for best exemplifying the value of Attentiveness in her daily life! Some of Ayah’s favorite experiences at Merritt so far have been the fun, engaging Hallmark activities- special days unique to first grade- like Bat Day (the culmination of first grade’s study of the life cycle, habitat, and nocturnal behaviors of bats,) and exciting field trips, like visiting the White House on Election Day! In math, Ayah is mastering subtraction, and moving on to graphic representations of data, which will be handy as she graphs the pickle preferences of her classmates during the upcoming Pickle Day Hallmark. In addition to the classroom activities, Ayah and her friends have been learning TWO foreign languages at the same time! By studying both French and Spanish in parallel this year, she will be fully prepared to choose one of the languages to focus on next year.
A busy second grader, Maggie loves the variety of opportunities available to her at Merritt Academy, both in the classroom and beyond- even to outer space! As part of Merritt’s Design and Technology initiative, Maggie and her classmates utilize the principles of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), to design and construct model rockets for launch in the spring. For inspiration, Maggie’s teacher planned field trips to the Air and Space Museum in Washington, and the Udvar-Hazy Center to get up-close and personal with the real thing! After school, Maggie joined the Art Club, where she explores different artistic mediums like clay, oil pastels, collage, and her favorite- paint! In class, Maggie is engaged and challenged by an accelerated curriculum- a hallmark of Merritt Academy’s commitment to academic excellence. She is already learning place value and rounding, and her mastery of phonetic principles has ensured a strong foundation in reading and spelling. In fact, Maggie is reading books that her friends in other schools won’t be starting until next year, like Esio Trot, by Roald Dahl. When asked about her favorite Merritt Academy memory, Maggie said emphatically “I really liked learning about butterflies last year in first grade. We watched the caterpillars grow into butterflies, and at the end we set them free!”
Nicolas, or “Nico” to his friends, loves everything about Merritt Academy- his friends, his kindergarten project pal, and the out-of-the-box activities his teacher plans to bring lessons to life. For instance, after researching “Great Americans” Nico assumed the identity of Frederick Douglass and assembled a time capsule with artifacts from his life to teach classmates about the famous abolitionist’s contributions to American history. When talking about ways to enhance their writing, Nico’s teacher planned an “Adjective Fashion Show,” where each third-grader’s “wacky”, “colorful” and “goofy” ensemble inspired a brainstorm of descriptive words- a fun and educational way to enhance vocabulary and expressive language! In math, Nico has been continuing to refine and practice inverse operations (addition/subtraction and multiplication/division), which will allow him to solve for variables in equations- the basis of Algebra. In science, Nico journals in his “Launch Log” with observations and illustrations of rockets and space shuttles observed at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center, preparing him to build his own rocket later this year!
Fourth grader Ashlyn is always eager to help. Whether by serving as a mentor to new students in her class, or by spearheading the collection of over 300 pairs of shoes and socks for children in Kenya as part of Project Humanity’s Bright Ideas Campaign last year, Ashlyn is ready and willing to extend the hand of friendship to others- a true example of the Merritt Academy spirit. Closer to home, Ashlyn brings cheer to her “grandfriend” at the Sunrise Assisted Living Community of Arlington during her monthly visits with her class- a 4th grade tradition and part of Merritt’s Intergenerational Program. A natural leader, Ashlyn was selected by her peers to represent her class in Student Council Association, where she contributes ideas for how to build school spirit and give back to the community. Academically, Ashlyn enjoys diverse on- and off-campus learning opportunities, including travelling “back in time” while visiting the historic Jamestown settlement, and hiking the River Trail at Great Falls National Park to view erosion, weathering, and biology in a natural setting. She is also an active member of Merritt’s Girls on the Run club, which creates empowerment and promotes positive self-image for adolescent girls nationwide.
Maintaining a balance between school work and extracurricular activities is especially important to Victoria, a Merritt Academy fifth grader, who also happens to be an accomplished and gifted golfer! Victoria defended her championship for the second year in a row at the Virginia State Golf Association Junior Girls’ Championship in Richmond this past July, and she spends time each week practicing and refining her game. In the classroom, Victoria is similarly dedicated to her studies, as she manipulates decimals and fractions in algebraic expressions and learns about properties of variables and constants. In social studies, Victoria is engaged in the study of Native American Indian tribes and cultures. After visiting the Powhatan Indian village at Jamestown, she selected the Northwest Coast Indians to study in-depth, and gathered information from primary sources during her class’s field trip to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Inspired by the novel Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen, Vicky and her classmates wrote essays about their own spirit animals, which they shared at their culminating Native American feast, where they ate and enjoyed traditional Native American foods and crafts.
During his sixth grade year at Merritt Academy, Thomas has found many opportunities to explore his diverse interests and talents. A baseball player for nine years, Thomas enjoyed getting to show off his pitching and fielding skills during the whiffle ball unit three times a week in Physical Education. Thomas also enjoys music, and plays handbells in the Merritt Academy Ringers select handbell choir, which performs at numerous school functions and events. For the past two years, the Merritt Academy Ringers even performed at the National Christmas Tree during the holiday season! In class, Thomas and his friends enjoy their small class size, which allows them to benefit from numerous one-on-one learning experiences and instructional differentiation. The small class size also enables Thomas and his classmates to participate in some cool field trips, including a visit to the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Thomas’s teachers also try to develop cross-curricular activities and projects that develop critical thinking and strong writing skills. For example, while exploring the school-wide theme of Design and Technology, Thomas and his classmates wrote and developed a “Jeopardy” style trivia game to play with the senior residents of The Virginian during one of their Intergenerational visits, creating an opportunity for both students and seniors to learn and have fun together.
Demonstrating leadership in and out of the classroom, Wesley balances his accelerated eighth grade curriculum with a number of extracurricular activities, including starting for the Merritt Academy boys’ basketball team and serving as Student Council President. A highly motivated and ambitious student, Wesley completed algebra as a seventh grader, and is currently taking geometry, where he is learning about logic and conditional statements that will soon lead to the study of proofs. In science, Wesley and his classmates are learning about elements, compounds and mixtures, and about the different states of matter through exciting experiments. Once, his teacher illustrated Charles’s Law (which states that given constant pressure, gas expands as the temperature increases) with aluminum cans that imploded when their internal temperature changed! After winning awards for best science fair display in 6th grade and first place project in 7th grade, Wesley is hoping for another accolade with an experiment on boiling water using ice! Last year, Wesley was inducted into Merritt’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society, and was honored as the recipient of the Erin Peterson Sportsmanship Award, a prestigious school-wide recognition bestowed to a student who has exemplified good sportsmanship in their academics and extracurricular activities. As an eighth grader, Wesley also serves on the school leadership council, where he and his classmates raise money and support for Food for Others, a local food bank helping families in and around Fairfax. They even visited the Food for Others warehouse to sort and organize donations to see firsthand how their altruism benefits those in need. Of his experience at Merritt, Wesley says “I have had a lot of fun at Merritt. I’ve learned to adapt over the years, and how important it is to always help out kids younger than me. I am definitely going to come back and visit.”
The teachers make learning fun.