Langley School breaks ground for new building

Lara Ramsey, Supervisor John Foust, Cathy Bernasek, Head of School Elinor Scully, Alistair Miller and Zac Merriman pose with shovels June 18, 2021, at the ground-breaking for the new Crossroads Building at The Langley School in McLean. (Photo by Sharon Vipperman/The Langley School)

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The Langley School in McLean began its fall classes Sept. 8 with slightly more than 500 students, its highest enrollment in more than a decade, school officials said.

The private school, which serves students ranging from preschool through eighth grade, “received almost double the number of applications for this school year compared to a typical year,” said Head of School Michele Claeys.

Claeys began her tenure at the school’s helm July 1 after serving as associate head of school and middle-school head at Norwood School in Bethesda.

The Langley School will provide in-person learning for all students this year, but offer a “virtual”-learning option for students who must quarantine because of positive COVID-19 test results, school officials said.

Langley officials still are maintaining stringent health policies in response to the pandemic.

“The Langley School remains committed to the same risk-mitigation strategies we used successfully last year to control the spread of COVID-19, including mask-wearing for everyone on campus, hand-washing, weekly testing, physical distancing and ventilation,” Claeys said. “In addition, the school has required all faculty and staff to be vaccinated prior to the start of the school year with the exception of those with religious or medical exemptions.”

Officials said strict adherence to risk-mitigation strategies and the entire school community’s cooperation allowed The Langley School to keep its campus open for in-person learning during the previous school year.

“To that end, our theme for the 2021-2022 school year – Together We Thrive – highlights how the mutual commitment of every Langley student, parent and faculty/staff member drives our continued success,” Claeys said.

The pandemic-affected previous school year also underscored how robust academics and emotional acuity were vital to teaching, learning and developmental growth at the school, officials said. The school’s social-emotional learning (SEL) program, REACH, proved

its worth during that time, they said.

“We have always known that children’s social-emotional well-being is critical to their success, but the need for SEL has become more important than ever as children cope with and navigate these challenging times,” Claeys said. “We look forward to continuing to expand and deepen our SEL curriculum in the coming year.”

Sports also are on the agenda as the new school year begins. The Langley School’s varsity athletic teams, on which seventh- and eighth-graders participate, will return to interscholastic competition this fall following the cancellation of all team sports last year.

Fifth- and sixth-graders this year also will have the option to take part in on-campus intramural sports. Langley officials hope to introduce junior-varsity team sports later in the school year.

The Langley School now is constructing a new building on campus that will house its Primary School, fifth-grade classrooms and library when it opens in fall 2022.

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