Welcome to another exciting school year in Alexandria. Our administrators, teachers and staff are eager to greet more than 10,000 students and begin a new year of challenging academics and stimulating activities.

Some of the many exciting changes awaiting students when they return include the continued construction of the new T.C. Williams High School; a modified school calendar at Mount Vernon Community School; the continued and expanded use of laptops by students; and new administrators in several buildings.

As the foundation is being laid for the new, environmentally friendly T.C Williams High School building, the foundation is also being laid for a redesigned educational program that will create small learning communities. These communities will link educators more directly with students and provide more effective support for students and their families. The new high school, coupled with state-of-the-art technology, will empower students to reach their full potential.

Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School began its second year on a modified instructional calendar and Mount Vernon Community School began its first when it opened its doors on Aug. 1. Under this schedule, the 183 days of instruction are interspersed with three two-week intersessions, during which enrichment and remedial programs are provided, offering 30 additional days of instructional time.

In Alexandria City public schools, we strive to do whatever it takes to ensure that all students succeed. Our mission states that the public schools, in partnership with our families and community, will effectively educate all learners to succeed in a changing world. Virginia's Standards of Learning and the federal No Child Left Behind Act have increased demands for accountability and testing. We are proud that all of our secondary schools (T.C. Williams, the Secondary Training and Education Program, Minnie Howard, George Washington and Hammond) and nine of our 13 elementary schools are fully accredited. Significant progress has been made, and we welcome the challenge to continue to move forward.

To ensure that every child in every classroom in Alexandria City public schools receives the highest- quality education, we continue to support small classes, focused school programs, English as a second language programs, dual language instruction, differentiated resources, summer school programs and kindergarten preparation programs at each elementary school. This year, math specialists were placed in every elementary school to assist teachers with improving the quality of math instruction.

A vigorous curriculum, a highly skilled staff and state-of-the-art facilities are integral to developing the culture of high expectations where all students will succeed. Also integral to student achievement are the involvement and support of parents and the community.

Thank you for your continued dedication and commitment as we begin another successful school year.