Reston, VA

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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As the number of local students who vape soars,  Fairfax County Public Schools doubling down on how to decrease the use of e-cigarettes.

In September, Fairfax County Public Schools pursued more stringent measures if a student was caught vaping on campus.  Additionally, the school board also classified vaping as a prohibited activity in the school system’s student rights and responsibilities handbook last year.

Lucy Caldwell, the school system’s communication director, said that FCPS also works with the Fairfax County Health Department to develop a toolkit for students to provide educational information about the health impacts of e-cigarettes.

Stemming the rise of e-cigarettes — which some see as a safe alternative to smoking — is a nationwide challenge. The number of youth who are e-cigarette users jumped by 1.5 million between 2017 and 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No change was found in the use of other tobacco products during this time.

A recent survey administered by FCPS found that one in five students vaped recently.

South Lakes High School held four parent sessions through the Parent Teacher Student Administration or administration-sponsored meetings to help parents partner with the school on addressing this issue, according to SLHS Principal Kim Retzer.

The school also has a substance abuse prevention specialization who provides support for students and resources for parents, Retzer told Reston Now.

“South Lakes deals with students vaping as do other high schools in the area,” she said.

At Herndon High School, Principal Liz Noto says that the school is working with FCPS’s Student Safety and Wellness Office to educate the student body about the issue. Like other schools, HHS also finds ways for students seeking to quit vaping.

Photo via Unsplash/Tbel Abuseridze

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Sprint is gearing up for several community engagement events in order to educate residents about a  125-foot monopole and ground equipment that is proposed at Herndon High School (7999 Bennet Street).

The company is seeking the county’s approval to build at 91-by-35-foot structure enclosed with a telecommunications facility. The project heads to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m.

 Here’s more from Sprint on why the project is needed:

The project will help Sprint bring improved coverage to your community. The shaded section below shows the approximate area that will receive enhanced network strength with the proposed wireless facility. The new facility will improve Internet connectivity speed and voice connectivity–especially inside homes and buildings–and help your area respond to the increasing demand for quality wireless service.  Users outside of the shaded area may also see improved service as the new facility off-loads some of the traffic from the existing facilities in the area.

A community balloon fly will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 8 a.m., with a rain date of Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 8 a.m. A community meeting is set for Monday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. at Herndon United Methodist Church (701 Bennett Street).

More information about the project is available online.

Photo via Sprint

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The Town of Herndon has a number of openings for local advisory committees, boards, and commissions.

Town residents are encouraged to apply to open positions in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) — which aims to promote safe walking and bicycling in the town — and the Fairfax County Athletic Council. One resident will represent the town on the athletic council, which is an advisory body that sets policies and priorities to improve sports programs in the county.

Middle and high school students can also serve on the Herndon Youth Advisory Council, which advises the council on issues and decisions relevant to youth. Students who either live in the Town of Herndon or attend Herndon Middle and Herndon High schools are encouraged to apply.

Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel said the youth council is a critical way to engage Herndon’s youth, especially as the town’s population increases in number and diversity.

“This is a great way for middle and high school students to develop lifelong habits of community activism,” Merkel said. “The voices of our young people are important and need to be heard.”

Applications are available online and at the clerk’s office in the Herndon Municipal Center (777 Lynn Street).

Image via Town of Herndon

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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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Herndon High School and Cornerstones have received $191,000 from the Virginia Department of Education, a grant that will allow the school to expand afterschool activities for at-risk students.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant will help the Herndon High School 21st Century Community Learning Center, which will provide afterschool programming to improve academic performance and support developmental wellbeing.

Students will receive guidance on college, careers, life skills, community involvement, and cultural awareness. An eight-week program will supplement the school-year program.

The program will be open to between 50 and 60 students. The success of the program will be measured through objectives like improved reading and math skills, increased family engagement, reduced dropout rate, and increased emotional and social learning competencies. Rising ninth-grade students will also be involved in the center.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Education covers 32 percent of the total cost of the three-year program. Additional funding will be provided from the following community partners:

  • Herndon High School
  • Fairfax County Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services
  • Cornerstones
  • Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services
  • Childcare Resources
  • Herndon United Methodist Church
  • Town of Herndon

Cornerstones will help develop the curriculum and activities for the project.

Photo via FCPS

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The deadline to participate in Herndon’s Homecoming Parade is approaching.

Monday (Sept. 23) is the last day for organizations to register for representation in the parade on Saturday, Oct. 19. Those wishing to simply watch the parade may line up at 9:30 a.m. around Elden Street on the day of the parade.

“Into the Future” will be this year’s parade theme. Participants are welcome to join the parade with a vehicle-powered float, walking float or a group of people, the application form said.

There will be prizes for floats that demonstrate outstanding creativity and adherence to the theme for the following groups:

  • School Group
  • Performing Group
  • Civic Group
  • HHS Class Float
  • Show Group

Parade organizers want floats to be presentable from both sides, fit the theme and appeal to a wide variety of age groups.

Anyone wishing to volunteer and assist with the parade may sign up online.

More than 58 units and around 1,300 participants took part in the 2018 parade, according to the event website.

Photo via Herndon Parks and Recreation

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Students who poured through the halls of Herndon High School on the first day of school yesterday were the first to take advantage of the school’s newest renovation features.

So far, phase one of the major renovation project is nearly complete. Improvements include a new entrance that requires entrances to pass through security and the main office, 65 classrooms, a new gourmet foods room, new science labs and additional classroom spaces.

The new library, which is part of phase one, is behind construction and is expected to open in the coming weeks. For now, students will use the old library, but services will be limited.

Phase two will include new locker rooms, art rooms, an expanded main gym, and a renovated auxiliary gym. Phase three will include a new wrestling and gymnastic rooms, renovated musics rooms and an auditorium, and upgraded baseball and softball structures. The final phase will feature updates to the cafeteria, a new food court design, and updates to the tennis courts and stadium press box.

More than 60 outdoor trailers are expected to remain until next year. School officials said only one trailer was removed over the summer in order to allow construction to take place. Because trailers are in place, a parking lottery will continue, with seniors given priority. The school is working with Herndon United Methodist Church to expand student parking opportunities.

The school’s special education office is now in the new wing of the building. A temporary boys locker room and school clinic is also in place as construction continues.

Photos via Herndon High School

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Honoring the Greatest Generation — Students from Herndon High School’s marching band reflect on their travels to Normandy, France, where they performed in the festivities commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day. [Fairfax County Public Schools via YouTube]

HawkEye 360 Closes on $70 Million Deal — The Herndon-based company, which uses formation-flying satellites, closed on a $70 million financing round led by Airbus, which bases its North American operations in Herndon. [DC Inno]

StreetShares Raises $30 Million — The Reston-based company raised nearly $30 million in fresh debt funding. The company specializes in small-business loans to veterans. [Washington Business Journal]

Photo via Dario Piparo/Flickr

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Students at Herndon and South Lakes high schools will go home with a school-issued laptop in the fall as part of a new countywide initiative when schools begins in late August.

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) plans to issue a computer to all high school students in the county through FCPSOn. By 2023, all students in the county could go home with laptops.

School officials say FCPSOn will transform learning for students and educators by providing “equitable access to meaningful learning experience and technology to support their learning.”

Devices will not replace teachers. Teachers are supported through ongoing, dynamic professional learning for teachers that will result in purposeful, collaborative student learning experiences,” FCPS wrote in a statement.

SLHS and HHS staff plan to distribute laptops during Teacher Advisory classes during the first week of school. A community meeting to discuss the initiative is planned for August.

The program requires an annual $50 fee for high school students. The fee covers technology support services and the potential costs of replacing equipment in need of repair.

FCPS also allocated $4.3 million in the fiscal year 2020 budget for the initiative. The budget was approved on May 23.

Students can use their own laptop instead of a county-issued laptop, but they must receive approval from their school to do so.

A pilot program first began in 2016 for schools in the Chantilly Pyramid.

More information about the rollout of the program in Reston and Herndon will be available over the summer.

Video via FCPS

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