Reston, VA

Although schools are closed, Aldrin Elementary School Principal Shane Wolfe said he is trying to help his students regain a sense of normalcy by bringing people together through a shared love for storytime and feeling of community.

Wolfe began hosting Facebook Live events on March 18, which he said quickly attracted the attraction of hundreds of kids from Aldrin Elementary and across the country.

During these half-hour sessions, Wolfe typically reads a short storybook that is hand-selected by Wolfe.

At 2 p.m. today, Wolfe announced he will be reading “And Heres to You” by David Elliott. Anyone interested can join the Facebook Live event to listen along.

“I was trying to find a way I could create a connection with the kids back to the school,” Wolfe said, adding that he thinks a sense of community is important to the digital learning environment.

Wolfe says that he does his best to ensure that he can respond to questions from kids that log on.

“The kids have a lot of really good questions that come in too,” he said, adding that they often ask about when the school may reopen and even inquire about their friends.

One of the major questions that Wolfe gets is kids asking when they will be able to return to school and play on the playground. Though Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam canceled all in-person school activities through the end of the semester, Wolfe told Reston Now that Fairfax County is in the midst of creating a distance learning plan for students.

When it comes to recreation, Wolfe said that kids should listen to their parents and respect county guidelines but are still able to enjoy things like soccer fields that allow students to practice the six-feet social distancing rule.

Although the Aldrin Elementary’s Facebook page only has about 250 followers, Wolfe said that sometimes his Facebook Live videos will sometimes end up with upwards of 1,000 views. Once, he even saw that kids from Tennessee and Phoenix, Arizona were following along with the story as well.

In the near future, students and community members can expect an upcoming “virtual teacher parade” that will replace the car parade, which was previously canceled, according to Wolfe.

“We are recording it now and teachers will record themselves singing, being silly and saying hello to the kids,” he said.

The final product will be sent out electronically to the community once complete, Wolfe said.

Photo via Aldrin Elementary/Facebook

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Aldrin Elementary School will unveil a new mosaic art piece in its lobby come April, to celebrate the school’s 25th anniversary.

The piece by international artist  Helen Marshall, will feature small mosaic tiles of students, teachers and community members at the school and make up a larger image of Buzz Aldrin’s iconic moon landing, according to Nicola Shelly, an Aldrin parent.

Shelley’s husband, Tom, is the President of Space Adventures and spearheaded fundraising efforts alongside the school’s principal, Nicola said.

Space Adventures is a company that opens up space travel opportunities to private citizens, according to its website.

Besides this upcoming project, Marshall commissioned other pieces for the Apollo 11 anniversary that were been displayed in London, New York and the Kennedy Space Center.

BBC recently featured Marshall’s work on another mosaic piece of Hilda Burkitt, an English suffragette.

Photo via Hellen Marshall/Facebook

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The Reston Rotary Rise Against Hunger fundraising event this Saturday will donate meals to kids and families in need.

People are invited to pack meals alongside Rotary members at Aldrin Elementary School (11375 Center Harbor Road) from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Anyone interested can sign up online for a shift or donate if they are unable to attend.

Once the goal of 10,000 meals is met, extra funds will ensure that kids in the area have the winter clothes they need, help the Reston Community Orchestra, assist kids with scholarships and send books to students in Nyeri, Kenya.

Tomorrow (Saturday)  

  • Make Shift Happen: The Storytellers Experience (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.) — This day-long event invites people to learn about themselves and become better storytellers. This event takes place at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Avenue) and includes meditation, guest speakers, trust workshops and more. General admission tickets are $200.
  • Jazz (6:30 p.m) — Watch a live performance by pianist Caleb Nei at the Lake Anne Coffee House and Wine Bar (1612 N. Washington Plaza). This event is free and open to the public.
  • Tween Dodgeball (5 to 9 p.m.) — Kids ages 9-12 are welcome to get some exercise at Life Time Athletic (1757 Business Center Drive). Everyone will be placed in a bracket and encouraged to compete.

Sunday (Jan. 12)

  • Kickstart your Sweatlife 2020 (8 to 10 a.m.) — Reston Town Center Lululemon is hosting workouts and goal setting events for patrons. People are welcome to gather and take a run with instructors Brian and Erica. This event is free and open to the public.
  • 2 Silos Brewing Co. Tasting (noon to 3 p.m.) — Try some beer from 2 Silos Brewing Co. at Safeway (11120 S. Lakes Drive) including Citralicious and Cream Ale brews. There will be giveaways available for attendees.
  • Sunday Afternoon Dance (2:30 to 4 p.m.) — The Reston Community Center welcomes people of all skill levels to enjoy an afternoon of cha-cha, swing, waltz or foxtrot dancing. Admission is $5 for Reston residents and $10 for others. Admission includes a short lesson, refreshments and door prizes.

Image via Rotary Club of Reston/Facebook

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The Reston Community Orchestra is putting on a family-friendly holiday sing-along this Saturday (Dec. 14).

Nuttin’ Like A Nutcracker” will take place at 4 p.m. in Aldrin Elementary School (11375 Center Harbor Road) and feature the elementary school’s ukelele ensemble. Everyone is welcome, regardless of vocal ability.

Attendees are invited to bring kazoos and other musical instruments. While the event is free, people are asked to donate $20 for adults or $10 per child or senior citizen.

This event is part of the orchestra’s 2019 Holiday Concert series.

Photo via Reston Community Orchestra/Facebook

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A registered sex offender has been arrested after he walked into Aldrin Elementary School on Thursday.

Police believe Benjamin Garrett, 29, followed someone into the school around 3:55 p.m. that day.

He was confronted by a staff member but remained on the property.

A short while later, police arrested Garrett as he was walking away from the school. He was arrested and charged with entering school property after a violent sex offense conviction.

He is currently being held without bond.

Photo via FCPD

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Several local schools were acknowledged by Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand and the Fairfax County School Board for bridging achievement gaps in English and math.

Aldrin and Armstrong Elementary School were among the top ten schools in the county to achieve the highest average increase across all reporting groups in English.

Armstrong Elementary School, Herndon Middle School and Herndon High School earned the excellence in equity award for the highest average increase in math.

Lake Anne Elementary School was one of the top schools in the county to achieve the greatest reduction in the English achievement gap.

Awards were given based on school performance in the 2018-2019 school year and revised accreditation standards approved by the Virginia Board of Education in 2017.

Photo via Facebook

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Several Reston schools will participate in the annual walk-to-school day tomorrow.

Kids across the country are encouraged to walk or bike to school on Wednesday, Oct. 2, in order to limit their carbon footprint, live healthier lives and learn safety procedures, according to the National Center for Safe Routes to School website.

“When families decide to lace up their sneakers or strap on their bike helmets to get to school instead of riding in a car, they help reduce the amount of air pollutants emitted by automobiles,” the center said, adding that the program began in 1997 and now has participants from all 50 states and more than 40 countries.

So far, six schools around the Reston area are signed up to participate and are listed below.

  • Aldrin Elementary
  • Dogwood Elementary
  • Forest Edge Elementary
  • Hunters Woods Elementary
  • Sunrise Valley Elementary
  • Terraset Elementary

For parents or guardians concerned about safety, the website says parents can accompany their children to school or see if there are any “walking school-buses” organized by fellow parents.

Contact phone numbers for adults leading walks to specific schools can be found online.

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Local Schools Receive “Common Sense Recognition” — Aldrin and Hunters Woods elementary schools in Reston and Clearview and Crossfield elementary schools and Carson Middle School in Herndon are a part of the 23 Fairfax County Public Schools recognized for their digital citizenship. [FCPS]

Fixing Up Reston Ball Field — The Reston Association recently uploaded a video about ball field maintenance. [YouTube]

Lights! Camera! Action! — People can watch “Jumanji” — a movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — at the Reston Community Center Hunters Woods today from 10 a.m.-noon. The movie is about four high school kids who become adult avatars in a video game’s jungle setting. The screening is free to attend and appropriate for all ages. [Reston Community Center]

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Bike to School Day returns to Fairfax County Public Schools tomorrow (Wednesday). The annual event aims to promote physical activity and put a dent into traffic congestion and pollution near schools.

As students bike or walk to school, parents are encouraged to accompany their kids to school and organize bike trains or walking groups.

The event is part of a series of events this month, which is National Bike Month. Bike to Work Day is set for May 17. FCPS provides guidance on the safest routes to and from schools in the county.

Reston schools participating in Bike to School Day include:

  • Aldrin Elementary School
  • Lake Anne Elementary School
  • Sunrise Valley Elementary School
  • Terraset Elementary School

For more information, visit the county’s website.

Photo courtesy of Steve Gurney

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An annual exhibit showcasing student art returns next week to ArtSpace Herndon.

The Herndon Pyramid Schools Exhibit will feature art created by students from the following schools:

  • Aldrin Elementary School
  • Armstrong Elementary School
  • Clearview Elementary School
  • Dranesville Elementary School
  • Herndon Elementary School
  • Hutchison Elementary School
  • Herndon Middle School
  • Herndon High School

The exhibit runs from Tuesday, April 9, to Monday, May 20, at ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center Street).

An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, April 10, from 6-8 p.m.

Some of the art will be available for purchase.

Image via Google Maps

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An Aldrin Elementary School student received a surprise celebration in front of her classmates today (March 21) for her artwork.

Shortly before 2:30 p.m., Aldrin students assembled in the lobby of the school for an announcement by Principal Shane Wolfe. The Virginia Lottery then surprised fifth-grader Elizaveta G. with the news that she is one of three winners statewide in the “Thank a Teacher Art Contest.”

Jennifer Mullen, the public affairs and community relations manager at Virginia Lottery, told the students that the lottery started the artwork contest last year as an addition to its notecard writing to thank teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. Three students’ pieces were selected from 700 entries, Mullen said.

The Virginia Lottery presented Elizaveta with a $150 gift card along with $1,000 for Aldrin’s art department.

Elizaveta’s original design will be used on thousands of thank you notes that will be distributed to public school teachers in Virginia during National Teacher Appreciation Week in May.

Wolfe facilitated a Q&A between Elizaveta and her classmates, who asked questions about her favorite color (“blazer blue and red”), how long it took to make the art (“one to two hours”) and who told her about the contest (her mom).

The other two winners have not been announced yet.

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Diners at Not Your Average Joe’s on select days in March can help raise money for a nonprofit that combats student hunger.

On the four Tuesdays in March, the restaurant (1845 Fountain Drive) will donate 15 percent of bills for diners who ask to have their meals support Helping Hungry Kids.

The nonprofit gives food packages to more than 400 elementary school students in Northern Virginia who don’t have enough food on the weekends.

Most of the 12 elementary schools that receive the packs are ones in Reston and Herndon, which include:

  • Clearview
  • Coates
  • Dogwood
  • Terraset
  • Aldrin
  • Armstrong
  • Forest Edge
  • Lake Anne
  • Hunters Woods

Each pack, which contains non-perishable food for two breakfasts, two dinners and several snacks, costs about $6, according to the nonprofit’s website.

File photo

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Woman arrested for intent to distribute narcotics — Police found marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, and THC wax during a search of the woman’s car. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Local walkouts at schools planned today — Students at Langston Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School plan to leave class around 10 a.m. today to call for gun control legislation. Participants at SLHS will be marked for cutting class. [South Lakes High School]

Kindness rocks, coming to a place near you — Students at Aldrin Elementary School are spreading rocks they’ve designed throughout Reston. Keep an eye out for special handmade treasures. [Aldrin Elementary School]

A meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Advanced students at South Lakes High School met briefly with Netanyahu during a visit to Capitol Hill. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

If you’re concerned about issues in Reston — The Reston Citizens Association, a civic, non-profit organization, is still looking for volunteers for various committees. [Reston Citizens Association]

Flickr pool photo by  vantagehill.

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Northam, Gillespie Win Governor Nominations — Virginia’s lieutenant governor will face the former Republican National Committee chairman in November’s general election to fill the Governor’s Mansion. Their running mates will be Justin Fairfax (D) and Jill Vogel (R). [WTOP]

Herndon PD Establishes Drug Collection Station — The new unit at the Herndon Police Department (397 Herndon Parkway) will provide residents with a safe and environmentally responsible way to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired medication, including controlled substances. [Herndon Police]

Former Phys-Ed Teacher Gets Principal Job — Nick Napolitano, who was a physical-education teacher at Aldrin Elementary School from 2011-2014, has been named the principal of W.C. Taylor Middle School in Warrenton. [Fauquier Now]

Diversion First Info Session Tonight — Interested in learning more about the county’s Diversion First program, which was developed to limit the number of mentally ill and disabled people in jail? A presentation is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne (1609-A Washington Plaza N.). [Reston Now]

Farmers Market, Church Have Strong Partnership — Smart Markets operates out of the parking lot at St. John Neumann Catholic Community (11900 Lawyers Road) from 3-7 p.m. each Wednesday. [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Photo courtesy Radhika Murari/RSTA

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Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon in July 1969.

Now, 48 years later, he again has walked the halls of a school bearing his name in Reston.

The 87-year-old visited Buzz Aldrin Elementary School last week while he was in the area to attend the annual Humans to Mars Summit. At the school, Aldrin presented for students his thoughts and hopes for future travel to the Red Planet. He also gave them a large map of the planet.

Aldrin last visited the school for its 20th anniversary in 2015. In the school’s early years, he visited each year. He now comes more sporadically, maybe every two or three years, school representative Lesley Aschenbach said.

“Hopefully, kids get to see him twice in their career here,” she said.

After the recent presentation, Aldrin gathered on the Mars map with representatives from each grade level while a videographer recorded testimonials from the students on their thoughts about space exploration and what travel to Mars would mean for mankind. The students’ discussion will be used as part of an emerging program for Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation.

In addition, Aldrin Elementary School STEAM resource teacher Jackie Wheeler, school-based technology specialist Eve Davies and Principal Shane Wolfe printed a special bracelet for Aldrin on a 3D printer during his visit.

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