Reston Students to Participate in ‘Walk to School Day’

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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Free and Reduced-Price Meal Options Available for Students in Need

With schools officially in session, students in need of free or reduced-price meals have several options at Fairfax County Public Schools.

More than a dozen county schools — including Dogwood Elementary School — will offer breakfast and lunch daily through the Community Eligibility Provision program.

Students at other schools can have access to free or reduced-price meals depending on their household size and where they fall in the maximum household income bracket. Households that receive benefits from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program may also be eligible, along with children who are homeless, migrant or runaways. Applications are available at schools and online.

Afterschool meal and snack options are available for students at Dogwood Elementary School, Herndon Elementary School, Herndon Middle School, Hutchison Elementary School

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Reston Association’s Design Review Board to Consider Colts Neck Underpass Project

The Reston Association’s Design Review Board will consider tomorrow (June 18) artist Ben Volta’s vision for public art at the Colts Neck Underpass.

Volta hopes to combine hundreds of drawings inspired by the concept of pathways to transform the underpass into a work of art.

His work draws from the following statement by Henry David Thoreau: “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

Seniors form the Hunters Woods Fellowship House and more than 800 students from Hunters Woods and Dogwood elementary schools, as well as Southgate Community Center, are working together to create the artwork.

Volta expects to use between 600 and 1,000 designs to construct the final project.

The complete proposal, which contains draft conceptual renderings of the project, is available online.

If the DRB approves the project, installation could be complete as early as September, Anne Delaney, executive director of Public Art Reston, told Reston Now.

Photo via Public Art Reston

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Thursday Morning Notes

Teens Rob Student Walking from Dogwood Elementary — “One teen has been arrested and authorities are searching for two others after police say they robbed a student walking home from school in Reston on Monday. The incident happened at around 1:07 p.m. on June 10 in the 12300 block of Glade Drive.” [Reston Patch]

Reston Hospital Center Recognized for Patient Safety Practices — “Reston Hospital Center (RHC) is being recognized by Healthgrades as a 2019 Patient Safety Excellence Award recipient. This award recognizes the nation’s top hospitals for patient safety, those hospitals providing excellent performance in safeguarding patients from serious, potentially preventable complications during their hospital stay.[The Connection]

Take a Break Concert Series Tonight — Enjoy a mix of a capella Motown, doo-wop and soul at this weekly summer concert, which takes place at Lake Anne Plaza from 7-9 p.m. [Reston Community Center]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Public Art Reston Picks Artist to Transform Colts Neck Road Underpass

The Colts Neck Road underpass will soon get its long-awaited makeover.

Public Art Reston recently awarded a contract to Philadelphia-based artist Ben Volta to create permanent public artwork for the underpass.

When selecting the artist, Public Art Reston sought someone who could “address the spirit of the Hunters Woods Neighborhood; respond to the cultural diversity of the community; and develop an artwork that identifies the underpass as a civic facility within the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood,” according to a Public Art Reston press release.

Public Art Reston’s Executive Director Anne Delaney said that Volta stood out because of his previous community engagement coupled with his powerful and colorful art.

“The project is an opportunity for infrastructure beautification, engagement, education and inspiration,” Delaney said. “It will promote active use of the underpass that links residential areas, Hunters Woods Village Center, two schools, two senior facilities and two community centers.”

Known for his public murals and sculptures, Volta will work on the project with the Dogwood and Hunters Woods elementary schools, in addition to partnering with Hunters Woods at Trails Edge, a soon-to-open senior living facility.

Volta, who is familiar with working with students in participatory art creation, told Reston Now that he plans to engage with kids in the classrooms with the hope of brainstorming an idea, color or shape that will then get incorporated into the art.

Right now, he is working to get the design done before summer break starts for the kids.

He has started making several planned site visits, where he also meets with students, teachers and administrators at the two schools. “I like to start with the site,” Volta said about his artistic process.

While the Colts Neck underpass was “dark with lots of mud everywhere” on his first visit, Volta said he’s been thinking about how the tunnel’s purpose as a passageway between the two schools can lead to a transformative experience for people who enter and exit it.

“Really, the site has a lot to say because of the way people experience it,” Volta said.

Volta said he didn’t know much about the Hunters Woods area before he was chosen for the project, but said he was struck on his first visit by the area’s connection to nature. “I really fell in love with Reston.”

The project has an anticipated installation in the summer so that the artwork will be ready for when students return to classes in the fall, he said.

Photo of Ben Volta courtesy of Public Art Reston

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GRACE Student Art Exhibit Debuts This Weekend

(Updated at 5:05 p.m. on March 4) Starting Saturday (March 2), a student art exhibition will be on display at the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE).

The exhibit features art by students at Fairfax County public schools, who are participating in GRACE’s education program called “Emerging Visions.”

GRACE reworked the program to include grades K-12, inviting elementary and middle schools to participate for the first time, according to a press release from the arts center.

“We are now able to take the best parts of our existing programs, expand those in close conversation with FCPS and make a greater impact on more young artists,” Executive Director and Curator Lily Siegel said in the press release.

In addition to the three longstanding participating FCPS high school schools — Herndon, Oakton and South Lakes high schools — the exhibit includes student art from Dogwood, Hunters Woods and Hutchinson elementary schools and Rachel Carson Middle School.

The exhibit is based on Caitlin Teal Price’ exhibit last year titled “Green is the Secret Color To Make Gold.”

GRACE worked with art educators at the schools to develop content and concepts to include into the curriculum, according to the press release. After educators, students and their families had the chance to view the exhibition and meet the curator and artist, students were able to respond to the theme by creating their own artwork.

FCPS released additional information about the students and their art on March 4:

One student, who is non-verbal, experiences art and, primarily painting, as a ritual or routine, according to this teacher. He makes repetitive marks with varying color and layers them to refer to different subject matter, such as a landscape. Another student has made at least one artwork a day for multiple years on topics from space-like environments to designs that involve flags of the world. South Lakes students shared their artist statements, explaining the process for creating their works.

[Another] student described the artwork as expressive of the mental illness she has been diagnosed with and says her work shows “that I’m locked inside myself and can’t get out of the emotions in my head.” She uses symbols indicative of psychological and emotional states. A team of two students uses found objects to which they apply paint, glue, and other materials, embracing their sense of humor and love of experimentation to provoke a sense of play and curiosity in their audience.

A third student uses her art to define herself through her own values and beliefs, not through the culture of her home country. She uses layering as a metaphor for memory and experience relevant to her life today. One student used a found piece of wood to which she responded with color and brush strokes ranging from tumultuous to more gentle; another uses her responses to daily events, observations, and feelings to create her paintings. One student submitted a photography display using a camera from a bin of broken cameras, kept by his teacher for spare parts, and fabricated a pinhole lens for the camera. Using a 30-second exposure, he took a series of photos that didn’t meet his expectations but he came to like for their abstract quality and colorful texture that “had a kind of painterly approach.”

Several free events are based around the exhibit.

The opening reception for the exhibit is set for tomorrow from 5-7 p.m. GRACE plans to host an open mic for kids on March 16.

The exhibition will be on display until March 30 at the gallery located at the Reston Town Center (12001 Market Street #103).

Photo via FCPS

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Not Your Average Joe’s to Host March Fundraiser for Hungry Kids

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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Reston, Herndon Schools Join Program Giving Students Free Snacks

Four schools in the Reston and Herndon areas are part of 39 Fairfax County public schools taking part in a new after-school food program that provides free meals or snacks to any student.

Fairfax County Public Schools’ Office of Food and Nutrition Services announced the sponsorship of the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program yesterday (Feb. 4).

One school in Reston and three in Herndon requested that the program provide them with meals. They include:

  • Herndon Elementary School (630 Dranesville Road)
  • Herndon Middle School (901 Locust Street)
  • Hutchison Elementary School (13209 Parcher Avenue)
  • Dogwood Elementary School (12300 Glade Drive)

Alexandria topped the list with the most requests from 16 schools, followed by 10 in Falls Church.

The program is part of the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which is backed by the United States Department of Agriculture. It is managed by the Virginia Department of Health’s Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Photo via @fcpsnews/Twitter

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New Salad Bar Adds Leafy Greens at Dogwood ES

Dogwood Elementary School is set to have a salad bar — the third public school in Reston to recently add leafy greens to their cafeterias.

Dogwood Elementary School (12300 Glade Drive) joins 18 other public schools in the county slated this year to open a Real Food for Kids Salad Bar by May. In the fall, Terraset and Sunrise Valley elementary schools added the salad bar along with 11 other schools.

Principal Mie Devers said that the salad bar stemmed from the Office of Foods and Nutrition Services, which creates healthy programs that get implemented by Fairfax County Public Schools.

“Dogwood worked collaboratively with Food and Nutrition Services to plan the addition of this program,” Devers said. “Based on the conversation with staff and families, the continued focus around nutrition and healthy eating is so important!”

Dogwood Elementary School is adding the Real Food for Kids Salad Bar and Summer F.E.E.D.S (Food for Every Child to Eat During Summer) to its current list of program offerings, including Breakfast in the Classroom and Super Snack.

The salad bar will offer fruits, vegetables and protein such as eggs and hummus to top off the salads, Devers said.

Students will receive a salad bar lesson next week, which is meant to help them understand the procedures and food selection, Devers said.

“Working with the teachers and FNS, we are able to provide lessons around the excitement and importance of fresh foods and explain how it works.”

Image via Google Maps

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Dogwood Elementary School Under Consideration for International Curriculum

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, which offers a trans-disciplinary framework could come to Dogwood Elementary School (12300 State Route 4721) soon.

The school has been named a candidate for the program, effective March 1 2018, according to a new release issued by the school system. According to the program’s website, IB classes aim to nurture and develop students between 3 and 12 into “caring, active participants in a lifelong journey of learning.”

Two years ago, Belvedere Elementary School (6540 Columbia Pike) was the first Fairfax County public school authorized as an IB PYP school.

According to the school system, schools selected to participate in the program are driven by a common vision: a commitment to high-quality, challenging and international education.

The school will receive on-and-off-site consultation from the program. Teachers will have access to IB’s online curriculum center, which includes teaching materials and participation in online forums. Since its introduction in 1997, the program is taught in over 109 countries around the world. Students are encouraged to strengthen their knowledge and skills across and beyond subject areas. Studies are guided by six themes of global significance.

For more information, contact the school’s principal, Mie Devers.

File photo.

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Dogwood Elementary Teacher Will Take Part in Library of Congress Institute

Melissa Green, a sixth-grade teacher at Dogwood Elementary School, has been selected to participate in a Library of Congress teacher institute this summer.

Green, who was one of over 300 educators to apply for the program, will attend the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute from July 31 to Aug. 4. She was one of about 20 applicants chosen for the session, one of five that will take place over the summer.

According to a Library of Congress press release, participants will “work with Library education specialists and subject-matter experts to learn effective practices for using primary sources in the classroom, while exploring some of the millions of digitized historical artifacts and documents available on the Library’s website.”

Primary sources are firsthand materials from history such as journals, letters and artifacts. This year’s program will look at primary sources from World War I.

“Students working with primary sources become engaged learners while building critical-thinking skills and constructing new knowledge,” according to the press release. “Teachers working in the Library’s collections will explore the largest online collection of historical artifacts with access to millions of unique primary sources for use in instruction.”

In addition to classroom teachers, school library media specialists and school administrators from across the country were also selected to participate.

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Reston 20/20 Slams Fairfax County — In a detailed report examining Fairfax County’s proposal to allow a substantial increase in population density in Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) zoning area, the Reston 20/20 Committee critiques the County’s motivation for the accelerated passage of the amendment. [Reston 20/20]

FCPS Free Lunch Program Underway — The Food for Every Child to Eat During Summer (FEEDS) program provides picnic-style summer lunches each day from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for all. Locally, they are available at Dogwood Elementary School (12300 Glade Drive). [Fairfax County Public Schools]

91 Metro Stations, 91 Songs — An Alexandria man has worked for over six years to compile a series of songs about the stops on the Metro. His completed work, which includes a song about Wiehle-Reston East, spans eight albums. [Washington Post]

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Dogwood Principal Brings Books to the Students

Dogwood students and their books/Credit: FCPSIt’s called “the summer slide,” and one Reston elementary school has found a new way to try and prevent it.

According to nonprofit Reading is Fundamental, some children can lose as much as three months of reading achievement over the summer.

RIF adds that that loss is cumulative and by fifth grade some at-risk students will be several grade levels behind.

The solution: Keep reading, of course.

Dogwood Elementary School principal Mie Devers recently loaded up the trunk of her Prius and went from neighborhood to neighborhood to pass out books to Dogwood students. Several teachers joined her as they passed out more than 50 books to students at apartment complexes and Southgate Community Center in weekly trips in July.

Books were donated by the school’s partner organizations, said Devers.

Dogwood is a Title I school, which means it has a high number of low-income and English as a Second Language students who are most at risk of falling behind.

“I feel this is a really important thing,” Devers told Reston Now. “Yes, it has to do with academics — we want the kids to come back to us in the fall where they were before. But I also want them to enjoy reading.”

Dogwood is also opening its library on Wednesday afternoons (1:30 to 5:30 p.m.) so students can check out books and enjoy read-aloud time with the school librarian, along with a craft project, said Devers.

Photo: Dogwood students and some of their new books/Credit: FCPS

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Dogwood’s Attanasio Named FCPS’ Outstanding First-Year Teacher

Christie Attanasio/Credit: Christie Attanasio Christie Attanasio, a first-grade teacher at Reston’s Dogwood Elementary School, has been named Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) 2014 Outstanding First-Year Teacher.

“The Dogwood administration, my co-workers, mentors, and everyone at Dogwood has truly become part of my family and has made this year so wonderful,” said Attanasio. “There hasn’t been a day that I have been in school where I haven’t felt encouraged and supported. I am so grateful and am looking forward to everything that is to come.”

Dogwood administrators say Attanasio comes to school knowing who each child is – individually, culturally, and developmentally.

Dogwood principal Terry Dade says Attanasio begins the day with a morning meeting that allows students to connect with each other and lets Attanasio determine if the students have any problems or issues that need to be addressed.  Student transitions from one lesson to another are seamless, says Dade.

“One of my favorite observations … was the ‘silent dance party’ that she has students perform before they transition to their next center or activity, ” says Dade.

Dade said that Attanasio is able to help her students meet challenges. More than 75 percent of her students receive free or reduced lunch, an indicator of poverty.

“Dogwood students come to school every day with baggage that many other students across the county do not carry,” Dade said. “For the vast majority, poverty is a way of life, English is a second language, and post-secondary education is a mystery.”

One of the strategies Attanasio uses is quality communications with parents, meeting with 100 percent of parents during parent-teacher conferences twice a year and sending home notes to the parents of each student, highlighting something they did well that month.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from the University of Connecticut, Attanasio came to Dogwood in September 2013. She said she had a “metaphorical backpack” that she felt was full of everything she needed.

But after meeting her class of 16 students and feeling the responsibility of having to meet their social, emotional, and academic needs, Attanasio said that suddenly her backpack felt empty.

“It became clear to me that I would need a much bigger backpack to hold all of the things I wanted to teach my students this year,” she says. “I discovered that I didn’t have to fill my backpack alone. Administrators, colleagues, mentors, parents, and even my students helped me figure out what I needed to get the job done.

“My typical day is filled with small moments of joy and unexpected surprises: a kind note from a parent, two thumbs up from a colleague, or a student who was once reluctant but is now proud to share his writing with his classmates. These are the things that I celebrate and remember — the reasons I can hardly wait to come to school each morning.”

Photo: Courtesy of Christie Attanasio

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