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MVHS Paints a Portrait of a Graduate

Ayana Nunn, Staff Writer

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“I’m not going to get somewhere and say ‘ok, I’m done.’ Success is never final; I’ll just keep on going. The same way as failure never being fatal. Just keep going. I’m going to the stars and then past them.” -Conor McGregor
Portrait of a Graduate was put into place in 2014 as part of the mission of Fairfax County public schools. According to the FCPS website, “FCPS adopted the Portrait of a Graduate to answer this question: What are the skills necessary for success for all children in this rapidly changing, increasingly diverse, and interconnected world?” They believe that this program “moves FCPS students and staff members to look beyond the high-stakes testing environment and to help students develop skills so they can be successful in the workforce of the future.”

This guideline aids in reflecting Mount Vernon High School’s core beliefs, competitive marketplace stance, and overall mission. There are five categories within The Portrait of a Graduate: Communicator, Collaborator, Ethical and Globalization, Creative and Critical thinker, Goal Directed and Resilient Individual. The program emphasizes the responsibility of students to embody these characteristics
All IB teachers and coordinators are familiar with the Portrait of a Graduate. Nicholas Short was an IB teacher before and is now in charge of the IB program at MVHS.

“When we talk about the Portrait of a Graduate, it is not new to Mount Vernon High School because we have been emphasizing the Portrait of a Graduate for a long time,” said Short.

Furthermore, the Portrait of a graduate benefits those who go to college and those who do not go to college. Those who embody the characteristics of the Portrait of a Graduate will be able to become strong members of their community, they will be provided with numerous job opportunities, and they will be able to become excellent role models.

In addition to the Portrait of a Graduate, MVHS has a International Baccalaureate program that works alongside the POG and contains Learner Profile characteristics. There are ten of these characteristics: Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-Takers, Balanced, and Reflective. Each of these characteristics work together to help students be internationally open minded people, help them recognize common humanity, and create a more suitable world.
Adding on to that, the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program was created to aid students from sixth grade through tenth grade. This is a program that benefits young students because it tries to change and improve the teaching style of teachers and aims to help increase the learning of students. With this program, students are more centered, curious, and become directors of their own learning.

Short explained,“While the IB program is more selective, the middle years program is not. It’s more about the methodology of teaching and how we get kids to force on their skill and how we get them to think about the material. If teachers make it more meaningful and more valuable, then students are more likely to remember it.”
The middle years program focuses to help students become active learners and internationally minded people who are able to understand others and teaches students how to relate to the material they learn in a classroom and how to apply this in the outside world.

Students involved in the IB program will have to take IB courses. Most IB courses require that students take the course for two years in order to take the IB exam and earn credit for that course. The exam covers the material students have learned in the previous years. Students who earn a high enough score on the exam earn a college credit in that course and therefore are exempt from taking it once they reach a participating college or university.

IB courses can be very difficult, so it’s very hard to achieve a 7, which is the highest score. Students who have achieved a “7” will be placed on Mount Vernon’s “Wall of Seven.” The purpose of this wall is to highlight the achievements and the hard work of students, as well as emphasize the academic capabilities of the students of Mount Vernon High School.

In addition to these programs, The Passion Project was created to help students figure out what they are passionate about, what they know, and what they can do as a student. It is a personal project that begins at the end of 9th grade and ends with a presentation in the Spring of students’ sophomore year. This is currently happening in English 10 Honors classes, but will be expanded throughout all the grades and levels in coming years.

The Passion Project encourages students to push themselves, helps them discover their potential and capabilities, and increases their desire to learn more. Students also acquire the skills necessary for success during the IB program.Also, it improves research skills, communication skills, and presentation skills.
“Teachers are going to put students on a particular path and then the students are going to move forward from that path. The Passion Project is more student directed. For example, it asks “What do you want to do” and “How are you going to get there?” said Mr. Short

Short continued, “

Because it is something about what the students care about and what they are passionate about, it opens the door to let those two worlds collide. It allows the world of the student and the world of the teacher to meet.”

— Nicholas Short


The IB Learner Profile and the Portrait of a Graduate were created to help keep students on the right track for their rigorous journey through life. The programs also help students understand the importance of each characteristics that will help them evolve in the community and help make it a better place for others.
The end goal is that all students will be able to see that school is more than a place to gain more knowledge, it’s apart of who each individual is and what he or she will become.

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MVHS Paints a Portrait of a Graduate