The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


Fostering Leadership in International Academy


Zahra Rahimi

Staff Writer

The International Academy (IA) at Alexandria City High School is a program for students who migrate from their home country to the United States to receive an education. While adapting to a great change in the U.S., IA students are also learning English. IA Leadership was started 5 years ago by teachers Christal Jackson, Jacqueline Rice and Gabriel Elias. They attended a training called CivicTREK by ACPS which allows teachers to connect their curriculum to real-life problems. 

Five years ago, when Jackson and Rice were the advisory teachers, they introduced the 5 Cs: collaboration, critical thinking, communication, citizenship and creativity. This is what they applied to the IA Leadership committee. 

“By exploring this idea, we recognized the need for leadership in the IA student body,” said Rice.

Participants of IA Leadership have been offered opportunities by the community to have students engage in leadership. Some events that students participated in last year were: 

  • Back-to-school night
  • Student orientation in English, Dari and Spanish 
  • Participating in CivicTREK showcase Presentations
  • Tutoring in the library for IA students on Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Introduction of Abdel Elnoubi, current School Board member, with IA students
  • Visiting Francis C. Hammond middle school to showcase ACHS and answering students’ questions about leadership and high school

IA Leadership students have participated in outside-of-school events such as volunteering with St. Rita’s Catholic Church to prepare Thanksgiving pies for families in need and volunteering to work with the Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities (RCPA) Alexandria Children’s festival. 

“I am looking forward to students doing more collaboration at ACHS and the opportunity to guide and help other students to develop their leadership skills to use after high school,” Rice said.

Gabriel Elias coordinates the publicity of IA Leadership. He thinks that IA Leadership has given the students opportunities that they may not initially have compared to other students in the school. 

“There needs to be activities where International Academy students can advance their ideas and participation within the International Academy and connect it to the rest of the school. If we only had Leadership outside the International Academy, some students would get passed by, and we wouldn’t have a chance to be included as much in the outside activities. Without [IA] Leadership, you really feel the separation between the International Academy and the rest of the school,” Elias said.

Elias’ goal is to keep the team motivated despite conflicts and obstacles, “We made it through COVID and virtual. I think the key is how the International Academy Leadership offers something beyond the classroom with all the obstacles and negativity. In Leadership, students have a chance to shine and show what they can do. If they need a place for a positive, creative outlet, Leadership provides this.” Elias continued, “International Academy Leadership students are in roles like school board liaison and Student Government Association Vice President. We have cultural clubs with links to the International Academy Leadership that unite students from similar backgrounds and cultures. It’s a much more unified school in that sense, and Leadership was really at the forefront of showing what the students could do.”

IA Leadership has helped encourage IA students to get more involved, says Elias.

“[IA students] have a variety of paths they can take. But I think this is at least a first step towards reaching that upper echelon of students who go to elite schools and take the most difficult classes— who have all the internships and connections— students who often don’t have very much contact with the International Academy students other than the hallways,” said Elias. “Our leaders will most likely start to interact with them and challenge themselves, while seeing everything academic the school has to offer.”

In the future, Elias wants to expand IA Leadership.

“I think we can build on Leadership to include students who want to get involved in other ways,” said Elias, “but we also have to change the structure of school to do this and emphasize some other career and leadership paths other than the college-bound path.”

From left, counterclockwise: Hosai Rasuli, Zahra Rahimi, Mubara Mayar, Reem Abuzaid, Samia Mers, Marwa Naqshbandi, Fayaz Naqshbandi / Photo courtesy of Gabriel Elias

From left: Kellie Woodson, Abdel Elnoubi, Jacqueline Rice, Zahra Rahimi, Mubara Mayar, Ana Reyes Araujo, Mina Stanikzai / Photo courtesy of Gabriel Elias

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Fostering Leadership in International Academy