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Del. Ken Plum: Back to School

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit one of my grandsons’ school, and I was genuinely impressed. Parents were invited to come by last week to meet the teachers because his school started on August 15. It was one of the friendliest environments I have experienced–smiles everywhere, genuinely warm greetings for all, and an obvious feeling of caring for all children and parents and grandparents coming into the school. My grandson was clearly eager to get back to school and to see his teachers. He has some special needs that require additional understanding and assistance, and he is clearly getting it in his school setting.

The teachers and administrators wore the school’s special tee shirt and were giving high-fives all around. As one who taught in the classroom for several years, many old memories came back to me. I remember the need to always be “on” in the school day for students who needed help or attention. In most careers we can coast on a bad day and make up for it later; not so with teaching. You are always the center of attention and must be appropriately responsive to student needs whenever they occur. Students can learn as much about life from your body language and attitude as they can from the subject you are teaching them.

While teachers are assigned a grade level or a subject area, ultimately teachers are teaching children more than just content. I am convinced my son who teaches students in automotive technology is teaching as much about attitude, work habits, developing confidence and being a good citizen as he is about an automobile. Our daughter who teaches multiply challenged children at the elementary level is demonstrating for parents, the school, and the community the inherent value and potential for every student regardless of the challenges they might face. My wife who was a preschool teacher and director demonstrated how important it is that young children get off to a good start and is now teaching other teachers to do the same.

Increasingly school divisions are getting an exception to the “Kings Dominion Law” requiring that schools begin after Labor Day. Fairfax County Public Schools is one district now starting before Labor Day. I have always opposed the current law and have voted to repeal it many times. A bill carried over from the past session for further consideration would leave the decision of the starting date for schools up to the local school division based on the unique circumstances of the community.

The legislature can do much more to support the education of our children than dabble in the starting date for schools. Pay for Virginia teachers lags below the national average by about $4,000. Clearly, teachers do not stay in the profession for the money, but they should not have to suffer with low pay because they chose to educate our children. At least in the community, we can express appreciation and offer our thank you to our teachers for the important work they do!

File photo

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Thursday Morning Notes

Musical this weekend — NextStop Theatre Company is offering several shows this weekend of ‘Amour,’ a Broadway musical based on a classic French Fable. It follows the story of a simple working man who unexpectedly gains a new and mysterious power: walking through walls. [Maryland Theatre Guide]

Falling for fall — Reston Community Center has released its fall program guide, which offers a glimpse into upcoming events, aquatics, leisure and learning and other programs. [Reston Community Center]

‘Take a Break’ concert tonight — Enjoy Latin music by Mambo Combo at Lake Anne Plaza tonight from 7-9 p.m. The event is free and open to all ages. It will also include dance demonstrations and lessons. [Reston Community Center]

Nearby: Sketch of suspect who exposed himself released — Local police have released the sketch of a man they say exposed himself to a teenage girl in Fairfax County earlier this month. [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Hunter Mill Road Historical Tour Set for Late August

Want to learn more about the history behind Hunter Mill Road? Reston Association is offering a narrated bus tour conducted by local historian and tour guide Jim Lewis in late August.

The tour will take place on August 29 from 8:30-11:30 am. Attendees will get a chance to see locations of military forts, encampments, structures, cemeteries, mill sites and old roads. The tour will also stop by Confederate earthworks.

Attendees will get on and off the bus to check out local treasures up close. Registration is $35 for RA members and $42 for all others.

File photo 

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Reston Multicultural Festival

Join us for a celebration that brings together the people of Reston to celebrate our rich medley of cultures. Everyone is encouraged to dress in attire from their own cultural roots and share the stories that we gather on the…

Now Open: Inova Urgent Care in North Point Village Center

An Inova urgent care center is now open at 1488 North Point Village Center.

The newest Reston location is open seven days a week and offers pediatric emergency services. On-site exam rooms and x-ray and real-time interpretations by experts with the Association of Alexandria Radiologists are also offered.

The center takes up the former location of Ravel Dance Studio, which left its home of 20 years to relocate to a larger studio at 1763 Fountain Drive.

Other services include treatment for minor illness and injury, lab tests, sports physicals, and flu shots.

The center’s first day of business was on Monday (August 13).

An Inova emergency room center, which focuses primarily on emergency room services through a partnership with Inova Fairfax Hospital, is located just 1.2 miles away at 11901 Baron Cameron Avenue.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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Pet of the Week: Maxine

Meet Maxine, a domestic medium hair & tabby mix kitten available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society have to say about her:

Maxine is a delightful kitten. She loves to snuggle. She will cuddle up to you and sleep on top of you.

She also loves her playtime! She would be a perfect companion.

Maxine was about 8 weeks old the first part of July.

(Note: Little Buddies has adoption events every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Pet Valu in the North Point Village Shopping Center.)

Are you and Maxine a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Despite Appeals, Residents Voice Strong Support for Downtown Herndon Redevelopment

At a public hearing Tuesday night, local residents voiced strong support for the redevelopment of downtown Herndon as town officials work to address appeals against the project by local property owners.

Three property owners filed appeals against the project, citing concerns related to the development’s impact on traffic and inconsistencies with heritage preservation guidelines, including density increases above standards laid out by the town.

On Tuesday, a majority of Herndon residents testifying about the appeals reaffirmed their support for the project. Speaking on behalf of Neighbors for Downtown Herndon Redevelopment, a group supporting the project that has rapidly grown in the last several weeks, Donielle Scherff said that while the appeals raise “reasonable” concerns, they have put residents’ “dream for this downtown in jeopardy.”

“We stand to lose the vibrant, thriving small town of the future, one that exudes this Herndon exceptionalism that we all love so much,” Scherff said.

In November 2017, Town of Herndon officials entered into an agreement with Comstock to breathe new life into 4.7 acres of in the Historic Downtown District. Plans proposed in June include a parking garage, 274 residential units, an 18,000-square-foot arts center and 17,00 square feet of retail space.

Earlier this year, the town’s Heritage Preservation Board approved the project, despite staff’s recommendations to defer action on the overall project. Filed appeals following the board’s decision rendered the project’s Certificate of Appropriateness void. The town’s council will consider the appeals in the coming weeks. The agreement for the project is unaffected by the voided certificate, which delays the implementation of the project.

File photo

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Italian Restaurant to Open in Reston Town Center Next Year

Fox Restaurant Concepts plans to open its North Italia concept in Reston Town Center by early 2019.

The new restaurant, which offers a contemporarily Italian model, will take up space at 11898 Freedom Drive in the Fountain One building. The space was previously occupied by Neyla Mediterranean Bistro, which closed earlier this year.

The North Italia restaurant concept is the second in the D.C.-region. The restaurant offers pizza, salads and home-made pizzas.

Boston Properties issued the following statement about the opening on Tuesday (August 14):

“We are delighted that North Italia will become part of the Reston Town Center community this winter.  Their passion for handmade Italian cuisine and heartfelt customer engagement is unparalleled.  They will be a compelling addition to our vibrant tenant mix,” said Stephanie Friedman, director of retail leasing at Boston Properties.

Other new tenants expected to open by next year include lululemon, Muse Paintbar, and Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls.

File photo

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Out of the fire — Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon received first-time accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. Congrats on joining the list. [American Alliance of Museums]

Nearby: Two-year-old falls from apartment building — A child died in a fall from the 24th balcony of an apartment building in Fairfax County. The caregiver was in the apartment tending to another child at the time of the fall. [WTOP]

Off to college — Here’s some advice you can give to your kids before sending them off to college this year. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Wade Gilley, Sr. 

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San Diego-Based Big Data Firm Opens Reston Office

BigBear, Inc., a San Diego-based big data and analytics firm, has opened an office in Reston. The company signed a three-year lease for 2,600 square feet of office space at 12007 Sunrise Valley Drive. BigBear, Inc. has another office in Charlottesville and plans to keep its headquarters in San Diego, Ca.

In a statement, the company said its revenue grew by more than 220 percent last year and could gain an additional 50 percent by the end of the year.

“By having our senior technology experts and engineers located near our customers, it enables the kind of close collaboration that is required to provide the high-level mission-critical support we deliver,” wrote Frank Porcelli, the company’s CEO in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to bring the incredible cost savings and productivity-enhancing benefits of our platform and expert team to more customers throughout the defense and intelligence communities.”

The company creates private, secure cloud environments that help organizations complete big data computing, machine learning, and decisionmaking. It specializes in cloud computing, big data analytics, machine learning, biotech and life science, and data mining and systems engineering.

Photo via BigBear Inc.

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