About 1,146 students are expected in Falls Church classrooms this fall, and some new programs and changes await them.
The New Horizons program, an alternative education program piloted last year at the middle-school level, will be expanded to include high school students who, because of family problems or other personal crises, disrupt class and perform poorly.
"We had tremendous success with the program at the middle-school level," said Nancy Sprague, director of instruction for Falls Church schools. At that level, the program was aimed at helping "work-inhibited" students, those who did not have learning disabilities but were unable to complete assignments.
"At the high school level we found kids are work-inhibited for different reasons -- either a crisis at home or trouble with a girlfriend or boyfriend. These kids tend to carry their traumas and dramas into the classroom, where they often disrupt classes."
The program emphasizes smaller classes and more individual attention, Sprague said.
Students would remain in the program from a month to a year, depending on the extent of their problems.
Family life, sex education and AIDS classes have been refined and expanded to include fourth and fifth graders in addition to middle and high school students, Sprague said.
"We're modifying the curriculum to make it more explicit, and we are evaluating what else we need to do in terms of AIDS education," she said.
A redesigned gifted-student program will be implemented this fall at the middle-school level, Sprague said. The Idea Program will focus on specific subject areas where students need enrichment or experiences beyond that offered in the regular classroom. The program will be phased in over two years, and about one-fourth of the middle school students are expected to be involved with it.
Enrollments at the elementary school level increased significantly this year, school officials said. As a result, the School Board had to move its offices out of the Mount Daniel Elementary School to make room for an extra section of kindergarten pupils expected this fall. Plans are in the works to renovate the school to handle increasing enrollments.
Five exchange students from Valencia, Spain, will study at George Mason Junior-Senior High School this year -- one for the entire year and four for periods of about five weeks. During the summer, eight Falls Church students studied in Spain.