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Superintendent announces new regional assistant superintendents

Superintendent Karen Garza announced new regional assistant superintendents Wednesday as part of a major reorganization to the Fairfax County school system she unveiled last month.

County schools, currently grouped in eight clusters, will be resorted into five regions headed by the five new superintendents. The new administrative structure will take effect July 1.

All five new regional assistant superintendents were pulled from the pool of current cluster assistant superintendents. The regions, like the current cluster system, were organized geographically, but they were also designed to place high achieving schools with wealthier student populations alongside schools that typically fall on the flip side of that spectrum.

Douglas Tyson, now with Cluster 3, has been named assistant superintendent for Region 1, which will include the Herndon, Langley, Madison, Oakton and South Lakes pyramids.

Fabio Zuluaga, currently in Cluster 8, will be the top administrator for Region 2, overseeing the Annandale, Falls Church, Marshall and McLean pyramids, as well as Thomas Jefferson magnet school

Debi Tyler, from Cluster 4, will serve as the new assistant superintendent for Region 3, taking responsibility for the Edison, Hayfield, Lee, Mount Vernon and West Potomac pyramids.

Angela Atwater, from Cluster 6, will be the new assistant superintendent for Region 4, which will encompass the Centreville, Lake Braddock, Robinson, South County and West Springfield pyramids.

Frances Ivey, from Cluster 5, will be the top administrator for Region 5, taking charge of the Chantilly, Fairfax, Woodson and Westfield pyramids.

Another of the current cluster administrators, Linda Burke from Cluster 7, will take on the new role of assistant superintendent for region leadership support. Burke will help the regional superintendents with their duties, working closely with new Deputy Superintendent Steven Lockard to smooth the transition to the new system.

Woodson and Langley emergency texting

The Fairfax County school system kicked off a pilot program June 1 for an emergency response text messaging service serving students in mental health crises.

The pilot program is starting at Woodson and Langley high schools, with plans to expand the service to all schools with the start of the next school year in September. Students from Woodson and Langley will be able to use the service throughout the summer.

Students can text 703-997-5444 if they need help with depression, thoughts of suicide or other mental health issues. Parents or friends worried about a student can also use the service.

Posters throughout both Langley and Woodson will promote the service. Trained counselors from CrisisLink mental health service will monitor the incoming messages and respond to them.

Film festival to be newest state academic championship

A film festival will be the latest event to join the Virginia High School League slate of athletic and academic state championships next year, VHSL officials announced Tuesday.

High school students will be able to submit narrative films, documentaries, animations and more for consideration in the festival, which will take place May 29-30, 2015, in Richmond.

Alan Weintraut, who teaches film production and serves as chair of the English Department at Annandale High School, was one of three teachers from across the state to help fine-tune the rules and procedures for the new festival.

The film festival is the first new academic championship for the VHSL since the introduction of the Scholastic Bowl in 1998. Virginia becomes just the third state association to offer a film festival as a championship, joining Iowa and Texas.

“Almost every student has [a smartphone], and almost every student is already experimenting with amateur filmmaking,” said Lisa Giles, VHSL director of activities. “What we aim to do with our festival is encourage participation, support filmmaking education, and recognize student achievement in filmmaking.”