​​​James Madison High School PTSA

Vienna, VA

Everyday Tips and Tricks (and things to consider) for Madison Parents

This is not a complete list – but a few things parents have learned by trial as our children have walked the halls of Madison!  If you have a resource or suggestion you would like to share, contact our webmaster at webmaster@JMHSPTSA.org.

  • What is the best way to learn about Student Programs, Activities and deadlines for participation at Madison High School?

Subscribe to the Hawk Talk Newspaper.  Subcription form.
Read Mad Memos newsletter that is emailed each month, and posted on this website.

  • How do I meet the Principal, members of Administration and teachers?

Come to a PTSA meeting usually held the second Monday of the month 7:30 pm in the Library

  • I have concerns about a grade my student made in a class.  How do I address these concerns with the teacher?

Ask your student to meet with the teacher during Warhawk Time or after school.  Usually this will resolve any conflict.
If you still have concerns, contact the teacher by email for assistance.  A return email or phone call often answers all questions.
If there are still concerns, the next step, would be to conference with the teacher and your student to determine what the student needs to do to be successful in that teacher’s classroom.    Often teachers will ask a student to visit them weekly during Warhawk Time, or contact an Honor Society tutor.
If the concerns continue, contact your student’s Counselor for advice.
The final step to resolve conflicts is to contact the Assistant Principal who oversees the department, share your concerns and determine next steps. 

Driver Education Certificate Completion

The state of Virginia requires all 10th grade students and their parent/guardian to attend a 90-minute traffic safety program entitled Partners for Safe Teen Driving as part of the classroom driver education instruction. This condition must be met before a student will receive a Driver Education Certificate of Completion (DEC-1 card).

The dates for this year's presentations are:
Tues. Oct 10
Thurs. Nov 16
Mon. Feb 12
Tues. May 15

Sessions will begin promptly at 7pm in the Auditorium.

Attendance for all current 10th grade health & PE students is MANDATORY at one of these presentations in order to obtain their completion card for Driver Education.  Students must attend with a parent or guardian.  (Parents/guardians, please bring a photo ID with you to the presentation.)  The doors are shut and locked at 7 pm, so please plan to arrive early so that you are not locked out of presentation.


  • Attendance 101

The Attendance Office is located past the Main Office at Entrance 1.  There is an I Forgot Shelf in the Attendance office for lunch or paperwork from red/black day forgotten at home.
If your student is going to be tardy or absent, call the Attendance line at 703-319-2319 before 9am.
You will receive a robo-call and email from Madison if they are not notified of your child’s absence.
Encourage your student to be on-time to class.  Madison requires detention from students with multiple unexcused tardiness or absences.  Specific information is on their web site.

  • What is a Student Activity Pass?

It is a SEASON PASS that entitles Madison HS Students admission to all regular season home athletic contests throughout the year.  They are for sale at Fall Kick Off or in the Activities Office.  Cost is $70 good for the entire year.  Individual game tickets are $5/game. You will receive a temporary paper pass until student IDs are issued.  Once you have your student ID you must bring your temporary pass to the Activities Office to receive an “official” stamp on your student ID.

  • What are AP Classes?

The College Board's Advanced Placement (AP) courses are college-level classes in a wide variety of subjects that offer challenging course work and a taste of what college classes are like.  AP standardized testing is done in May, during school hours.  Scores are on a scale of 1-5.  Students earning a 3, 4 or 5 will often receive 3 credit hours towards an entry level class in college (requirements vary per college).  More Information can be found here:  AP Experience  Your student’s counselor will talk to them about potential AP classes for their Madison schedule, and if they want to take an AP exam (i.e. native foreign language) without taking the AP class.  Listing of classes is on the Madison Website.

  • What are SAT II Subject Tests?

Some colleges require an additional test score on their college application – the SAT II Subject Test.  College Board offers three tests per morning session.  These are subject tests specific to a subject, usually corresponding with an AP class.  Some students begin with AP World History as sophomores.  It is best to have your student take the SAT II Subject Test on a date in May or June of the year they take their AP class (i.e. Sophomore year for World History).  The material is fresh after studying for AP Exam at Madison in May during the school day. 

  • Why take the PSAT Junior Year?  

The Preliminary SAT serves as the initial screen of program entrants for National Merit Scholarships.  Madison traditionally has 3-5 National Merit Scholarship Semi-finalists who are notified this status by direct mail from the College Board. Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in spring.  Along with National Merit Semi-finalists, there are National Merit Commended Scholars. The PSAT organization notifies Madison Counseling students who are Commended Scholars and students learn their status at the Academic Award Ceremony in early November.   (In the past, Students have not received notification by mail directly.) A student is a Commended Scholar if they score 201 or higher on their junior year PSAT. This is not a monetary scholarship, but a nice honor to list on a college application. 

  • What are FCPS Academies?

Students enrolling in Academy elective courses will be provided with opportunities to participate in a variety of career experiences including shadowing, mentoring, and/or internships with local businesses. The Academies are located at the following 6 schools:  Chantilly Academy: A Governor’s STEM Academy; Edison Academy: International Studies and Business; Engineering and Scientific Technology; Fairfax Academy: Communication and the Arts;Falls Church Academy: Health and Human Services; Marshall Academy: International Studies and Business; Engineering and Scientific Technology: West Potomac: Communications & The Arts and Health & Human Services .  Students can apply the spring of their sophomore year.  Buses are offered from Madison, contact your counselor to discuss travel time.

Also:  In addition to courses offered at the six Academies, specialized programs for students with particular interests are available at community-based locations and at single school sites as follows: Classroom-on-the-Mall:  Classroom-on-the-Mall programs are located at Fair Oaks and Tysons Corner r and provide instructional marketing and fashion marketing experiences; Hotel Marketing: Hotel Marketing classes are offered at the Comfort Inn Springfield, Hampton Inn Springfield, Hilton Springfield, Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner, Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner, and Tysons Corner Marriott; Auto Dealership Program - The Auto Dealership Program, now available at 13 high schools, introduces students to operating a licensed auto dealership; The Fairfax County School of Practical Nursing - The Fairfax County School of Practical Nursing is located at Plum Center for Lifelong Learning and offers nursing classes to both secondary and post-secondary students; Spring Village Residential Construction Site - Spring Village Residential Construction Site offers students an opportunity to construct single-family homes while earning an hourly wage.

  • My student has Academy Classes first period . . . what do I need to know?

Most Academy students do not make it back to Madison for Warhawk Time.  You and your student must make the effort to check daily announcements for administrative tasks they missed during that period.

Contact the assigned Warhawk Time teacher and discuss your student’s travel schedule to Madison each day.  They can also assist to keep your student up to date with paperwork done in Warhawk Time.

Check with your Academy and Madison Attendance Office for best practices on reporting absences.  Confirm with your Academy snow delay situations, especially transportation to and from Academy.

  • What is Governor's School?

Virginia Governor's School Program is summer residential programs for students from across the commonwealth.  There are several options including Foreign Language Governor's Schools, academic and visual and performing arts opportunities beyond those normally available in the students' home schools.   Each requires a different application. Sophomores and juniors can apply.   Check out these websites for more information.  http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/governors_school_programs and http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/foreign_language/language_academies/index.shtml 

Are there other Summer Study Abroad programs for High School Students?
AFS-Intercultural Programs USA presented information about unique opportunities for students at our November PTSA meeting.  In addition to the traditional exchange student program, this group coordinates Summer Abroad experiences, 2-8 week programs for language acquisition, community service and cultural immersion.  Early Action applications are due December 4.  Scholarships are available.

  • College Applications 101

Common Application is available on-line early August.  Students should try to complete as much as possible in August, before school starts.  The on-line process takes time, and be sure to click save at the bottom of EVERY page.  It is much easier to edit in October or November than it is to start fresh!  If it is hard to motivate at home, JMHS Student Services offers an APP LAB for students after school.

Many colleges are part of the Common App system.

Some students begin their common app essay in English class at Madison spring of Junior year or fall of Senior year.  English teachers are happy to look over essays and offer suggestions.

Try to schedule college visits when students are on campus.  A long FCPS weekend and Spring Break are both great options.

Keep paper awards and recognitions for your student in a file starting Freshman year.  This makes filling out HONORS AND RECOGNITIONS super easy.

Most colleges will super score SAT’s.  That means they take the best score from each test to create the highest combo score possible.  Many students take their first SAT test fall or winter of Junior year.  Academic Boosters offers JMHS students fall and spring sessions on SAT and ACT assessments.

If you child has an interview at a college, conduct a Mock Interview at home with a neighbor or ask their counselor for assistance.

Apply to a variety of colleges and universities.  An early application to a rolling admission school takes the pressure off of waiting until April 1 for at least one acceptance!  As instructed by JMHS counselors, always apply for a reach school that my not accept your student, a safe school that your student is likely to be accepted and then those in-between.  The Common Application makes this process not so daunting.

Meet with your student’s counselor Spring of Junior year. They will provide you with a timeline with due dates for Recommendation Letters and release of Transcripts.

Most colleges require at least one Teacher Recommendation.  Have your student consider which JHMS teacher knows them best to write a recommendation during their Junior year and ask either spring of Junior year or early Senior year.  Teachers put a lot of time into each recommendation letter and appreciate the advance request.

Some students begin a Resume in high school.  Headings can include Academics listing advance classes, honor societies and special distinctions,Community Service and Extracurricular Activities.  This can be provided to a person writing their Recommendation. 

  • How do I pay for college?

JMHS PTSA hosts The College Funding Coach, a parent program each year.  Also suggested reading 1001 Ways to Pay for College.