School spirit recognized by commuting academy students


Delaney Brooks

Physical and occupational therapy teacher Lindsay Grilliot teaches senior Andrew Jung to apply an ice pack to Westfield senior Skylar Cowell in her 1st period Physical and occupational therapy 1 class.

Delaney Brooks, Staff Writer

Following the first period of her day, senior Ella Watt exits Herndon High School and makes for her car. She’s not skipping; on the contrary, Watt is on her way to class. As a physical and occupational therapy student at Chantilly Academy, Watt enjoys the opportunity to travel between schools every day. 

“I get to just listen to music or take a nap on the bus,” Watt said. “I also have a parking pass here so on some days, I can go home for the lunch period and kind of settle in, take a minute and then come back here, so the traveling period’s actually kind of nice.”

Physical and occupational therapy teacher Lindsay Grilliot says that traveling between schools mirrors the professional world outside of FCPS well. According to Grilliot, catching one of the daily shuttles at 9:40 am, 11 am or 1 pm is an experience that will prove helpful for students later in life. 

“It’s just giving them another life experience of walking into a place where ‘I don’t know anyone’ and then meeting them and forming relationships and that’s good for real life,” Grilliot said. “I think that just the whole experience of doing that affords them a great opportunity.”

According to veterinary science teacher Ashley Spinetto, recent changes in academy scheduling divide CHS students and feeder students into separate periods for most classes. Such changes, intended to alleviate scheduling difficulties, have changed overall classroom culture. It differs between classes consisting exclusively of CHS students and classes of feeder students. 

“We sometimes teach a Chantilly-only class and a lot of them have gone to middle school together and have known each other and have these relationships,” Spinetto said. “These kids, they don’t know each other; they’re coming from all over western Fairfax County and they forge these friendships.”

According to Watt and veterinary science senior Jazmine Campbell from Robinson Secondary School, both the academy and CHS as a whole are very diverse places with a strong sense of school spirit. 

“Whenever I come here and I’m wearing my Robinson lacrosse merch or anything that’s Robinson stuff people are looking like ‘why are you here,’ type of thing,” Campbell said. “I feel like we both have really big school spirit.”

Chantilly’s efforts to create a welcoming atmosphere have not gone unnoticed by Centreville High School Cyber Cisco senior Nate Olson. According to Olson, the Chantilly campus is more bright and colorful than his neighborhood school. Olson says the campus culture reminds him of his base school, however. 

“I walk in here and the colors are more vibrant, it stands out more than Centreville,” Olson said. “I think the student culture’s pretty relaxed. It’s similar to Centreville in a way. They’re both very supportive of their own schools but also not toxic to other people and are very welcoming to kids coming from other schools.”