Reston, VA

Herndon High band Tag Day (Image courtesy Herndon High School)

The Herndon High School marching band is reaching out to the community as it renews its annual fundraising effort.

The band, dubbed the “Pride of Herndon,” has launched its Tag Day campaign to help fund music instruction, uniforms, sheet music, instruments and instrument repair.

The fundraising effort is typically done in-person as band students go door-to-door handing out flyers about the band and tags for the concert schedule while asking for donations. Tag Day is the largest fundraising event for the band.

Due to the pandemic, the band is hosting its fundraising effort virtually through the end of February. The band’s target is to raise $25,000.

As of Friday morning, the fundraising site shows the Pride of Herndon has raised just over a quarter of its goal.

Contributions to the band may be made directly on the band’s site via PayPal, on the fundraising site for this year’s Tag Day, or checks may be mailed to PO Box 1293, Herndon, VA 20172-1293.

“With all the learning being virtual this year due to COVID, we are trying creative ways to keep our students engaged and excited to continue making music together,” Kathleen Jacoby, Director of Herndon High School bands, said in a video promoting the fundraiser.

“To perform at the high level we do, we need instruments and other equipment, plus instrument specialist to come help out, and that costs money. Instead of knocking at your doors this year, we have created this online Tag Day site. Your contributions mean a lot to us, for the band means a lot to our students.”

Image courtesy Herndon High School

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Herndon Graduate Continues Cancer Treatment — “Chelsea Proctor, the Herndon resident diagnosed last year with a rare and painful form of cancer, is continuing chemotherapy treatment.” [Reston Patch] 

Local Company Pivots to New Target — “Parabon NanoLabs, the small Reston company helping law enforcement crack cold cases across the country, has big priorities for 2021: Cancer therapeutics, VR software, diagnostics and more. [Washington Business Journal]

Herndon Tech Company to Buy Reston Contractor — “Herndon-based tech company Serco Inc. (a subsidiary of United Kingdom-based Serco Group plc) announced Tuesday it will acquire Reston-based H.I.G. Capital affiliate Whitney, Bradley & Brown for $295 million.” [Virginia Business]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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With Herndon High School’s phase two renovations now completed, the school has moved to phase three. This includes renovations to the auditorium, music, performing, and fine arts rooms, auxiliary gym, and wrestling and gymnastics room.

All of the work should be completed this summer and be ready for students when they are back in the building full-time next school year, assistant principal Jim Hannon tells Reston Now.

The main gym was part of phase two renovations and that was finished late last year, complete with new bleachers. December, when a limited crowd was allowed to attend a basketball game, was the first time they were used.

Work has moved at a decent clip with students and full staff not in the building due to COVID-19 restrictions.

However, Hannon says it’s been “a little bit of a wash” in terms of construction moving any faster. He says that many of the areas being renovated are in isolated areas anyway and the number of construction workers are more limited to social distancing requirements.

After phase three, renovations will begin on the tennis courts, adding additional parking, stadium press box and concession stand, and the food prep area of the cafeteria. That’s the final phase of renovations that first began more than two years ago.

In all, the renovation project is adding more than 138,000 square feet to the more than five-decade old high school building, expanding it by about a third. It will have a capacity of 2,500 students.

Hannon says that all of that work should be done by summer 2022.

Photo courtesy of Jim Hannon

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The Fairfax County School Board’s proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for Fairfax County Public Schools will not include any major adjustments or immediate big-ticket spending.

Released on Dec. 17, the proposed CIP – which sets short-term priorities for school renovations, capacity enhancements, and other infrastructure projects – remains largely the same as last year’s plan, as the uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic made FCPS officials wary of making any significant new commitments.

A virtual public hearing is planned for 7 p.m. today.

FCPS Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Transportation Services Jeff Platenberg said described the current times as “daunting.”

“We don’t want to do anything that’ll impact our facilities or our staffing, especially with the inoculation coming, the vaccines, and then, next year, [we want to] put ourselves in a position to get back to whatever the new normal might be.”

The ongoing renovation at Langstone Hughes Middle School, which was fully funded by voter-approved bonds in 2015 and 2017, is expected to be completed in $FY2022. Once completed, the school, which first opened in 1980, will include modern amenities and an addition of 53,900 square feet. The project is expected to cost roughly $52 million.

The CIP includes $39 million for a school to manage additional growth expected to be brought on by phase two of the Silver Line. A location has not yet been determined, but the project is fully funded for planning-related costs.

Roughly $42 million is proposed for Herndon Elementary School, 52 million for Hughes Elementary School, and 106 million for the ongoing renovation of and Herndon High School, which will be completed this year.

Because students have mostly been learning virtually, FCPS staff were unable to include data on the capacity utilization of individual facilities for this school year in the CIP. Fluctuating attendance also precluded staff from making five-year projections for future student enrollment.

According to a presentation that Platenberg gave to the school board on Tuesday (Jan. 5), FCPS shed 8,338 students between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. The losses predominately came at the elementary school level, which saw a drop in membership of 7,729 students.

Because FCPS is not adding any new projects with the proposed CIP, the school system will be able to focus on the many needs that it has already identified, Platenberg says.

Overall, the proposed CIP carries a five-year requirement of $1.1 billion. While only $314.8 million of that is currently covered, Platenberg says the unfunded commitment should be addressed by future bond referendums.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the CIP on Feb. 4.

Images via FCPS

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Thursday Morning Notes

Virtual Job Fair Set for Job-seekers Age 50+ — The county is hosting a free virtual employment expo. On Friday (Dec. 4) between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Registration is open online.  [Fairfax County Government]

Herndon High School’s NJROTC Donates Holiday Meals — “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing need for food in the area, the Herndon High School NJROTC donated 11 family meals for Thanksgiving and pledged another ten meals for Christmas, for a total of 21 in honor of the Class of 2021, to families in need via Food for Neighbors.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

70,000 Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine Expected in Virginia — “Gov. Ralph Northam said in a Wednesday news conference in Richmond that an estimated 70,000 doses would be in the first wave of Pfizer vaccines sent to Virginia. Should the FDA give approval to Pfizer’s vaccine, doses would go to states immediately, which Northam expected would happen as early as mid-December.” [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Following months of opposition from local residents, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the addition of a cell tower at Herndon High School on Tuesday.

In response to concerns about the location and size of the facility, Milestone reduced the monopole’s height from 124 to 114 feet and the facility’s size from 2,590 to 1,175 square feet. The latest plan also shifts most of the ground equipment under the visitor’s bleachers and away from a more central location on the football field.

Still, residents said concerns about the use of the field for the facility remained unaddressed.

“We have consistently opposed the monopole because it is taking valuable land from our schools. It is a hazard to our children and is inconsistent with the school,” said Heather Metz, a Herndon High School parent who helped launched an online petition to oppose the facility.

Others said they were concerned the pole and facility was placed between in the middle of the football field.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said it was misleading to suggest the facility was located in the middle of the field.

“The reality is, that’s not where the pole and the compound are,” Foust said, adding that the revised proposal addresses many of the community’s concerns.

“I think everybody has done their best to minimize the impact of this proposal.”

Other board supervisors expressed dismay that a representative from Fairfax County Public Schools was not present at the meeting to allay concerns.

Vernon Miles contributed reporting to this story.

Photo via Milestone

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As Fairfax County Public Schools students are learning virtually during the 2020-2021 academic year, renovations are moving forward at Herndon High School.

The renovation’s second phase was mostly completed during the summer, according to Herndon High School assistant principal Jim Hannon. The school’s main gym was expanded by roughly a third, while the renovation of the auxiliary gym was completed alongside the construction of new locker rooms, a weight room and art rooms.

“To start this school year, if we weren’t in the virtual world we are in right now, we’d have students in the new areas that were completed in phase two,” Hannon said. “Those areas include both upstairs and downstairs, first floor and second floor, the completion of the wings that were for math, ESOL, social studies and English.”

Very few outstanding items remain from phase two of the renovation before its final completion. Among these is the installation of the main gym’s new bleachers, due to supply line issues caused by some vendors temporarily shutting down as a result of COVID-19.

Despite a few hang-ups in the supply chain, the renovation process has progressed into phase three. This includes an opportunity to begin work early on the student’s dining portion of the cafeteria that otherwise would have been relegated to weekend and evening work during phase four due to the presence of students in the halls. The renovation of the kitchens for the cafeteria, however, will be included in phase four of the renovation process.

The completion of the second phase follows the introduction of a new wing to the back and front of the building, as well as a new library, main office, and administrative and counseling office. The first phase, which was completed in the fall of 2019, also included a new entrance, 65 classrooms, a gourmet foods room, science labs and additional classroom spaces.

The progress of the renovation has also allowed the school to move approximately 60-65 school personnel from outdoor trailers into the freshly renovated or constructed spaces, according to Hannon.

Following the removal of the trailers, the renovation process will begin on the parking lots as well as the school’s tennis courts as a part of phase three.

Other plans during this phase include a new wrestling and gymnastics room and renovating the school’s performing arts area, which includes the auditorium, and rooms for the orchestra, band and chorus.

Phase three will take place during the majority of this school year, Hannon said. The exact completion date of the project has not yet been determined.

The final phase of the project will include renovating the existing cafeteria to feature a food court design, as well as updates to the tennis courts, the stadium press box and concession stands.

As part of the project, the school will undergo a complete renovation with new plumbing, HVAC, fire alarm and protection systems. Also, the campus will include a new bus loop, more parking, bike racks and improved stormwater management. The renovation project in total includes 138,558 square feet of additions and modifications to expand the school to 431,000 square feet, according to the webpage for Grunley Construction Company, Inc.

“Hopefully when we move back in the building, we’ll have very few classes still outside in the trailers. And the majority of those are going to start being removed in September and October,” Hannon said.

Photo via Jim Hannon

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Herndon High School third-place finishers in Real Food for Kids’ annual culinary contest were given the opportunity to replicate their winning recipe for community members in need. 

The team consisted of Liam Owens, Eli Shifflett, Alex Chang and Ivonne Claros-Vigil. Their recipe, Carne Asada Tacos with Asian Slaw, was replicated for the Chefs Feeding Families’ Mighty Meals Program to feed those in need, according to a statement from Fairfax County Public Schools. 

The four students were invited to help with the distribution of meals at Harvey Hall Apartments in Arlington earlier this summer, according to the statement. 

“When I found out that our recipe was going to help out with people in need, it made it more exciting and more nerve-racking because it’s a really good feeling knowing that you’re helping people and you’re helping the community,” said Claros-Vigil in the statement.

Claros-Vigil credits her Gourmet Foods class with her success because of the wide variety of spices, foods and traditions they learned. Her background also includes lots of cooking with her mom, which gave her experience cooking new things.

The competition gave students the opportunity to experience how they can create change in a community while innovating in the kitchen, according to Mary Porter of RFFK in the statement. Connecting the competition to Chefs Feeding Families and helping families in need allowed the students to see their work come “full circle,” said Porter. 

“You ever want to grow a relationship with someone? Cook, bake etc., just hop into the kitchen and let your maker mind go to work,” said Owens in the statement. “The goal and challenge of the meal is what was fun.”

Photo via Fairfax County Public Schools website 

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After several deferrals, a proposal for a new cell tower at Herndon High School cleared the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

At a meeting Wednesday night, the commission unanimously voted in favor of the project. Milestone Tower Limited Partnership plans to build a 114-foot monopole and other equipment for the facility, which could be blocked off by an eight-foot-tall fence. The facility is expected to improve cell phone coverage for Sprint customers.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Ulfelder said that Milestone’s latest proposal addresses some concerns raised by residents at public hearings earlier this year.

Ulfelder said he believes the changes, which were reviewed by staff last month, are adequate. He added that he was unsure critics would be happy with project unless it was completely withdrawn.

Milestone submitted several revisions earlier this year, which the county’s staff recommended for approval in an addendum to their initial report.

The project heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote later this month.

Photo via Sprint

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The Fairfax County Planning Commission deferred a decision on a proposed telecommunications facility on the grounds of Herndon High School last night (Wednesday).

Milestone Tower Limited Partnership hopes to build a 114-foot monopoly and other equipment for the facility, which would be blocked off by an eight-foot-tall, chain-link fence.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Ulfelder said the applicant submitted several revisions earlier this year, which the county’s staff recommended for approval in an addendum to their initial report.

“I would like to give a little more time for people to review the staff addendum and provide comments,” he said.

Ulfelder also noted the Fairfax County Public Schools met with residents who were concerned about the plan earlier this month.

Milestone reduced the height of the tallest monopole by 10 feet. The company also plans to install a sand filter for water quality treatment purposes.

Initially, Milestrone proposed purchasing off-site nutrient credits to make up for water quality control requirements. The facility would be located on the north side of the existing football field between two existing stadium light poles with heights of 70 and 85 feet.

The proposal has been deferred, but a date on the planning commission’s docket has not yet been announced.

Once approved by the commission, the proposal will head to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a final vote.

Photo via Sprint

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The Closet of the Greater Herndon Area, Inc. has awarded 22 local high school students $45,000 worth of college scholarships. The students span across five high schools in the community, according to a statement released by the organization. 

“We are so proud of these youth and their families and are happy to continue supporting this important educational need in our community,”  said Gene Wiley, The Closet’s board president

According to the statement, The Closet thrift shop has awarded more than $500,000 in college scholarships to more than 500 students since 1974. They have also distributed almost $3 million in direct cash grants to local service groups.

A breakdown of the awardees is below:

  • From Herndon High School, the recipients are Lucilla Antwie, Karen Ayala-Bonilla, Caleb Calderwood, Sean Frias, Maryum Khan and Judith Velasquez.
  • From Mountain View High School, the recipients are Doris Alvarado, Abonesh Tadese and Tenzin Tsering.
  • From Oakton High School, the recipients are Olohi Anteyi, Monica Alexandra Castellanos and Maria S. Rivera.
  • From Park View High School, the recipients are Ebanneh Atabe, Charlotte Edwards, Kimberly Fuentes-Galvez, Kimberly Molina Rivas, Kaitlyn Smith, and Melana Washington.
  • From South Lakes High School, the recipients are Rhema Ebna Konadu, Nicol Katherin Salinas Perez, Daniel Mebratu Tolessa and Nia Jordan Winston.

 

The thrift shop is a non-profit group based on faith-based congregations. They hold a small staff, with volunteers helping out the store as well.

Those looking to donate can drop off clothing and small household items on Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Additionally, those interested in volunteering can contact the store owner, Patricia Rhodes, at 703-437-7652.

Photo courtesy of The Closet of the Greater Herndon Area, Inc. 

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors plans to defer a decision on a cellphone communications facility at Herndon High School to later this year.

At a meeting this afternoon, the board is expected to defer the vote to September 15, according to county documents. The proposal has been deferred five times since the public hearing crossing the board’s desk on Feb. 25.

The county’s planning commission voted to defer a decision to yesterday (Monday) following concerns from the public. Commission members encouraged Fairfax County Public Schools to address issues flagged by residents.

Milestrone Communications is seeking to install a 124-foot monopole and associated equipment in a compound on the north side of the school’s football field. The tower is expected to help improve service for Spring customers.

The 3,185-square-foot compound, which will be enclosed by a chain-link fence, will be roughly 35 feet by 91 feet in size, according to the proposal.

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Over the weekend, parents, students and community members gathered to say goodbye to Herndon High School‘s gym with a silent disco and auction.

The gym is now closed off as the renovation project begins. The project — which will expand the gym by roughly one-third — will be completed over the summer. It will also include new boys and girls locker rooms, a new weight room, team rooms, training rooms, and storage areas.

The goodbye event included a moment of silence to “remember the good times” as the school celebrates the beginning of the construction project, according to the school. All proceeds from the event will be used to outfit the newly-renovated athletic facilities once they are completed. Around 250 people attended the event, according to the school’s assistant principal Jim Hannon.

The school has been an active construction area for more than a year. A new wing was added to the back and front of the building, including a new library, main office, and administrative and counseling offices.

Future phrases include a new wrestling and gymnastics room, renovated music rooms, an expanded auditorium, and new baseball and softball structures.

In the final phase of the project, the cafeteria will be modified into a food court design and the stadium press box and tennis courts will be renovated.

Photo via Jim Hannon

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Friday Morning Notes

Vote on Herndon HS Monopole Delayed — “The Fairfax County Planning Commission voted Wednesday, March 4, to postpone its decision on whether to approve an application to install a telecommunications monopole on the grounds of Herndon High School until later in the month.” [Reston Patch]

New Mobile Forensics Lab for Fairfax County Police — “Fairfax County police can potentially identify murder suspects much quicker with their new mobile forensics lab. Maj. Christian Quinn said the idea to build the mobile lab started at a crime scene in 2017.” [NBC Washington]

Dulles Customs and Border Protection Seize Date Rape Drug Shipment — “U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on Monday seized five large bottles of gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) that arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport in international mail from China. The DEA says GBL is known as a precursor of date rape drug gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB).” [Fairfax County Times]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The Fairfax County Planning Commission is expected to vote on a proposal for a telecommunications facility on the grounds of Herndon High School today (Wednesday).

Milestone Tower Limited Partnership plans to build a 124-foot monopole and other equipment for the facility, which would be blocked off by an eight-food-tall chain link fence.

If approved, the facility would be located on the north side of the football field in between two existing stadium light poles. It’s expected to help Sprint improve coverage in the area.

In a staff report, the county noted that although the best option would be to move the facility to an existing structure or building that is tall enough to accommodate the facility, there is no option to do so in the area since it is largely home to single-family units.

“These sites provide few opportunities to minimize the impact on the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The large size of the Herndon High School parcel provides a large buffer from neighboring properties than other sites,” according to the report.

Staff also expect that the pole will blend into other lights that are already on the football field.

If approved tonight, the plan heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote on March 10. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.

Photo via Sprint

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