Central HS Advances Toward a $10 Million Prize

Central High School Advances Toward a $10 Million Dollar Prize
Students work on XQ Super School Project

Central High School Advances Toward a $10 Million Prize

XQ: The Super School Project Promotes CHS Community to the Third Phase of Competition.


Photo:  “The greatest part about working on the grant is working with the student representatives--hearing their ideas and their passion," said Ms. Hensley 
Story posted:  April 26, 2016

Central High School is one of 348 schools entering the Semi-Final Round of the XQ Super Schools Grant.  Principal Melissa D. Hensley first became aware of the grant when English Teacher Tara Mason sent her an email regarding the grant and asking if Central High School could apply for the grant after her husband Ken Mason, a social studies teacher, saw an ad for the grant on television.  In a collaborative effort with faculty and staff and liaisons from the community, and businesses and specialists from around the nation, CHS prepared an initial grant submission that was one of 700 grant submissions from 45 states and from among over 10,000 applicants.  Following a review of the grant proposals, XQ Super Schools named Central High School as one of 348 applications to move on to the next phase in the $10 million school reinvention grant challenge issued by XQ Super Schools.    


According to Principal Hensley, “The process of applying for the XQ Super Schools grant is extensive and has required hundreds of hours of work on behalf of over 120 students, faculty, staff, business representatives, and community members.”  This effort is led by the school’s Senior Instructional Leadership Team (SILT), which is comprised of the building principal, Ms. Mason, Kristina Zaccaria, Special Education Teacher and CLM Coach; and Tripp Ennis, Library Media Specialist.  Hensley noted, “The greatest part about working on the grant is working with the student representatives--hearing their ideas and their passion for redesigning what we teach, how we teach the information, and the physical environment in which it is taught.  Seeing students working side by side with our SILT is refreshing and validating in the ideas and concepts that our team has designed.”

Tara Mason, Tripp Ennis, Melissa Hensley
Members of SILT (Senior Instructional Leadership Team) reimagine Central High School.  SILT
is leading Central's drive in the Project XQ Super School's Grant Challenge.   
From left:  Tara Mason, English teacher; Tripp Ennis, Library Media Specialist; and Melissa Hensley, Principal.  Not pictured:  Kristina  Zaccaria. Special Education teacher and CLM coach.  


In an interview with the Northern Virginia Daily, senior Jacob Pearson said that if Central received the grant they would like to see both structural and programmatic changes made within the school.  These changes include becoming better users of technology and creating more collaboration between teachers and students.  He added that students are really excited about the potential changes because they are having their voices heard about the way they want to be taught.

 Tripp Ennis (left) and student Jacob Pearson
Jacob Pearson (right), senior at Central High School, explains his ideas for
reinventing Central High School to Tripp
Ennis and other members of SILT.

Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, has embarked on an ambitious project to challenge schools around the country to reimagine education for the 21st LOGOcentury. XQ:The Super Schools Project is a grant challenge that will ultimately provide five winning schools with a dedicated $2 million a year for five years, a grand total of $10 million per school. Through the dedication of Central High School’s students, teachers, administrators, alumni, and the Shenandoah Valley community and specialists throughout the nation, Central High School will be among those schools who continue on to the third phase of the Super Schools project.

During the next phase, called the Development Phase, Central’s team will collaborate with XQ: Super Schools’ consultants to push their imaginations and fine-tune their design ideas. This process is designed to help Central’s teachers and students reimagine what education could become, to transition from outdated, industrialized modelsIm Inof education to tested and innovative methods of instruction and design that will meet the needs of all students and prepare Shenandoah Valley students to be the local, national, and international leaders that we will need to face the challenges of the 21st century.


According to Hensley, “A lot of what we really want to do is provide a much more authentic learning experience for students.”  The students want classes and programs that will allow them to be more successful when they graduate and find a job that suits their passions.  “A lot of what happens is going to be about student choice and comfort in this building. If we got the grant you would see a massive redesign of this building, which would be geared towards student comfort, but then the choice of how they learn and personalizing the learning opportunities that they have.” Because of these programmatic changes they want to make, they have looked at an academy model of teaching where students can focus on a field of study, such as agriculture, engineering, coding and cyber security, and receive a more personalized learning experience. Mason added, “We want that idea of integrated learning more than anything. No longer studying science in isolation from math and isolation from English. It’s not the way you do it. Once you move to the next phase of your life, that’s what we do. It all gets pieced together, and yet we all still sit in these classrooms isolated from one another.”  

Students contribute to Project XQ
     "Seeing students working with our SILT is  refreshing and validating
in the ideas and concepts that our team has designed.” said Ms. Hensley.  
Central students from left:  Nakayla Irvin, Daniel George, Casey Rubenstein, Bekah Ansboro

A radio announcer recently reported that Central has a chance to win the lottery.   Like the lottery, there are millions of dollars at stake.  Unlike the lottery, the XQ Super School Challenge is not a matter of luck.  Rather, the Challenge involves hard work, creative ideas, collaboration, and vision.  Being awarded this Grant is not an impossible dream. Central High School students, faculty, staff, and the Woodstock community can make the new Central High School a dream come true.    


Hensley noted her appreciation for “those who have dedicated time to helping Central High School’Tripp and Karen Whetzels faculty and staff submit
the proposal that would take CHS from being a strong school to an extraordinary academic institute with cutting edge facilities and access to resources that would provide students with endless possibilities in their educational endeavors for years to come.  
Photo:  Karen Whetzel, School Board member, participates in Project XQ discussions. 

"This announcement is an honor and demonstrates the dedication, ingenuity, and hard work of our students, faculty, and staff at Central High School,” said Hensley.

 We are Central High School
We are Central High School!



XQ Super Schools News Links: https://xqsuperschool.org/news

XQ Super Schools Main Page: https://xqsuperschool.org/