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by Dave Emke — June 9, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Dr. Scott Brabrand began his time at Fairfax County Public Schools in a Herndon High School classroom in 1994.

Brabrand, who on Thursday was confirmed as FCPS’ new superintendent, worked five years as a social-studies teacher at HHS before moving into administration. According to FCPS, during that time Brabrand “founded a Model United Nations Club at the school, mentored new teachers and proposed a new teacher education initiative, and redesigned the county’s U.S. and Virginia government Program of Studies to align with new state and national standards.”

Brabrand then became an assistant principal at Herndon High and an associate principal at Lake Braddock Secondary School before being named principal at Fairfax High School in 2005. He was promoted to FCPS cluster assistant superintendent in 2009 before leaving to become superintendent of Lynchburg City Schools, where he has been for the past five years. He was named Region V Superintendent of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents this year.

“Dr. Brabrand brings a wealth of experience in education and a broad perspective to the job of superintendent,” said Sandy Evans, Fairfax County school board chair. “His collaborative leadership style and his knowledge of Fairfax County schools will be strong assets for him as the new superintendent. We look forward to working with him as we move forward to improve salaries for our teachers and ensure our students are prepared for college and beyond when they graduate.”

Brabrand has a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service; a master’s degree in education from George Washington University; and completed his doctorate in educational administration as part of Virginia Tech’s Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Program.

Brabrand’s tenure in the position will begin July 10 and he’s been contracted through the 2020-21 school year. His starting salary is $290,000, FCPS spokesperson John Torre confirmed.

Former FCPS Superintendent Dr. Karen Garza left the post in December, just months after getting a four-year contract extension. Dr. Steven Lockard has served as interim superintendent.

Photo courtesy Fairfax County Public Schools

by Dave Emke — June 7, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

Students who attend Herndon High School will be seeing some big changes in the fall — including more outdoor classrooms and fewer parking spaces.

Construction to expand the school is scheduled to begin during the late fall or early winter. The first phase — which will add an additional wing to the rear of the building and an addition to the front of the building where the new library, main office, and administrative and counseling offices will be situated — is expected to take about two years.

According to information distributed by the school earlier this week, they are already preparing for that first phase of construction, including by adding 46 new duplex and quad trailers that will be used to house displaced classrooms. There were already 27 trailers on campus to accommodate overall student growth, meaning the total number of trailers next school year will represent “more outdoor classrooms than indoor ones.” An outdoor restroom facility is also being brought in.

“Though construction will not actually be in full swing until December or January, staff will be packing up for the big move at the end of this school year. Our goal is to minimize disruptions throughout the next school year, so students will start the school year in the assigned trailers,” the school says in the statement. “While we cannot promise some immediate room changes will not happen occasionally throughout the renovation, we are working to reduce the impact of these changes as much as we can.”

The parking situation at the school will also be seriously impacted by the construction work, the school says. The number of available parking spaces for students will be slashed by three-quarters, from 377 to 90. A lottery system will accommodate student parking requests, with applications available beginning next week.

“Seniors will be chosen first based on parking availability on the school campus before this school year ends,” the statement reads. “In August, a second lottery will take place based on additional spaces acquired through our [community partnerships]. Juniors will be selected once all seniors have a space.”

Students are also reminded in the statement that parking on neighborhood streets is off-limits unless special arrangements have been made by the school. In addition, the school says, carpooling will be “strongly recommended” for athletic events, concerts and other major school activities.

The full renovation of the school, which is to include 138,558 square feet of additions and modifications that will expand the school to 431,000 square feet with a capacity for 2,500 students, will include:

  • Phase 1: Add an additional wing to the rear of the building. Add an addition to the front of the building where the new library, main office, and administrative and counseling offices will be situated.
  • Phase 2: Renovate locker rooms, art rooms and Gourmet Foods room. Expand the main gym and renovate the auxiliary gym.
  • Phase 3: Create new wrestling/gymnastics room, renovate music rooms and the auditorium. Update baseball and softball structures.
  • Phase 4: Modify the cafeteria, creating a “food court” design, renovate the stadium press box and complete tennis courts.

The addition was approved as part of the Fairfax County Public Schools Fiscal Year 2017-2021 Capital Improvement Program.

Rendering via Fairfax County Public Schools

by Dave Emke — May 22, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

No Charges Against Officer In Herndon Shooting — The Fairfax County police officer who shot and killed 32-year-old Mohammad Azim Doudzai, ending a chaotic hostage/barricade situation in January, will not face charges. The Fairfax County Police Department will conduct an internal investigation in accordance with its standard operating procedures. [Fairfax County]

Firm Invests in Breast Milk — Reston-based venture firm PROOF and its investors are putting $3.25 million into Prolacta Bioscience Inc., which uses breast milk to make products for premature, critically ill babies. PROOF has also invested in drone delivery company Zipline, legal research and publishing startup Casetext, and beauty products data and marketing company Memebox. [Washington Business Journal]

Local Students Honored at FBLA Conference — At the recent 2017 Virginia Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) State Leadership Conference, held in Reston, a number of local student took home accolades. Among the winners were South Lakes High School students Davi Meran (first place, securities and investments); Ian Hughes (third place, economics); Ayah Elnafe, Jennifer Alvarez and Rabia Mohamednur (third place, public service announcement); Juhi Chandrabhatha, Rachel Kessler and Jesse Lynch (third place, global business); Conor Gill, Jarius Johnson and Noah Goldstein (fourth place, business ethics); and Ahmed Rabani (fifth place, sales presentation). From Herndon High School, winners were Adam Asif (first place, advertising), Cyril Antoney (second place, organizational leadership) and Rahbar Chowdhury (second place, spreadsheet applications). [Fairfax County Public Schools]

by Dave Emke — April 24, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Local Students Excel at State Science Fair — Among the honorees at the 2017 Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair was Michael Gamarnik of South Lakes High School, who took third place in electrical and mechanical engineering for his project, “The Effect of Vortex Generator Angle on the Downforce of an Airfoil.” Rini Gupta and Shalini Shah of Herndon High School took third place in behavioral and social sciences for their project, “Effect of Binaural Beats with Isochronic Tones on PTSD & GAD Patients.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Baby Deer Should Be Left Alone — The Fairfax County Police Department’s Animal Protection Police is reminding residents that in almost all cases, white-tailed deer fawns found alone are not orphaned or abandoned. They should be left where they are, as their mothers will return for them. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Learning Facility Coming to Fox Mill Center — Ashish Gandhi and Sapna Chordia are opening a branch of Sylvan Learning later this year, offering tutoring programs and camps to kindergarten through 12th-grade students. They plan to open in June, in time for summer programming. [Fairfax Times]

by RestonNow.com — April 21, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

It looks like it might be a rainy weekend, but the good news is there are plenty of indoor activities scheduled in Reston. And forecasters say the rain isn’t going to hit until later Saturday, so there still should be a good opportunity to enjoy the outdoors too.

Here is just a sampling of what there is to do in Reston and the surrounding area this weekend:

  • The Reduced Shakespeare Company will perform “Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play” tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road). Tickets are $25 for Reston residents and $50 for non-residents.
  • Reston Association’s Habitat Heroes program will participate in an Earth Day activity Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon. They will be removing invasive species and planting native species to help the long-term restoration project at the Wainwright Recreation Area.
  • Herndon High School (700 Bennett St.) will present “Guys and Dolls” for three performances this weekend: tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets are $15.
  • The opening reception for “Radcliffe Bailey: The Great Dismal Swamp” at Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St.) is 5-7 p.m. Saturday. The exhibit will be on display through August.
  • Saturday is Record Store Day, and there will be plenty of offers to mark the day at Right On Records (731 Elden St., Herndon).
  • The Reston-Herndon Little League Opening Day parade and celebration is Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Reston Town Center. The Washington Nationals’ Racing Presidents will participate as part of the league’s new partnership with the Nats.
  • Mayflowers Floral Studio (11959 Market St.) will host classes in tulip selection, arranging and care this Saturday and next, from 2-3:30 p.m. each day.
  • Other events at Reston Town Center this weekend will include live music at World of Beer (1888 Explorer St.) tonight and Saturday, Earth Day celebrations Saturday from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. at Greater Reston Arts Center and in Town Square Park, and exercise in the pavilion Sunday from 11 a.m. to noon.
  • First Blooms” by artist Dorothy Donahey remains on exhibit at Reston Art Gallery and Studios (11400 Washington Plaza W.), which is open from noon to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
  • The art exhibit “A Respite from Chaos” will remain on display at Reston Community Center’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery (1609 Washington Plaza N.) through the month of April.
  • The Reston Tour d’Art, a guided bicycle tour of the community’s outdoor art, is slated for Saturday from 9:30-11:30 a.m., beginning at the Lake Newport tennis courts (11452 Baron Cameron Ave.). The event is free, but registration is required.
  • NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) is performing “Boeing, Boeing,” and the show has been extended through May 7. Performances this weekend are tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., along with 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $35-$55.
  • The Blue Street Blues Band will perform tonight from 7-10 p.m. at Café Montemarte (1625 Washington Plaza N.).
  • Award-winning author Hena Khan will be reading from her new book, “Amina’s Voice,” from 2-3:30 p.m. Sunday at Scrawl Books (11862 Market St.)
  • Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music tonight, 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., from Sista Pat & One Vibe. DJ Kram will play Top 40 hits Saturday night.
  • Vinafera Wine Bar and Bistro (11750 Sunrise Valley Drive) has live music from 7-10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night in April. In addition, legendary local DJ Cerphe Colwell will be signing copies of his new book from 3-5 p.m. Saturday.

by Dave Emke — April 18, 2017 at 9:00 am 3 Comments

Local Resident Part of Climate Reality Leadership Corps — Christina Blocksom, of Reston, is one of several area citizens who recently participated in Climate Reality Training in Denver. Former Vice President Al Gore founded the project. [Inside NOVA]

Red’s Table Has New Seasonal Cocktails — Rhubarb purée is a special ingredient in one of the spring drinks at the restaurant, located at the South Lakes Village Center. [DC Eater]

comScore Working With Facebook to Improve Digital Ads — The Reston-based company is introducing new demographic metrics to help provide advertisers with “transparent, uniform measurement across all platforms and devices.” [Yahoo! Finance]

‘Guys and Dolls’ Coming to Herndon HS Stage — The theater department at Herndon High School will present the musical comedy this weekend. There will be shows Friday and Saturday night, and a Sunday matinee. Tickets are $15. [Fairfax Times]

by Dave Emke — April 5, 2017 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

Document-Shredding Program Set for Saturday — The Fairfax County Solid Waste Management Program will sponsor a secure-document shredding event at the North County Human Services building (1850 Cameron Glen Drive) on Saturday morning. Residents can have up to four boxes of materials of a sensitive nature, such as tax documents and financial records, shredded. [Fairfax County]

Board of Supervisors Adopts Resolution on Diversity, Inclusion — At their meeting Tuesday, Supervisors voted to reaffirm that the county is “a welcoming and accepting community where residents of all backgrounds deserve to feel respected and safe.” [Sharon Bulova/Facebook]

Checkers to Expand in D.C. Region — The fast-food chain plans to open 20 locations in the Metro area and is currently in the process of seeking franchisees. [Washington Business Journal]

Longtime Coach Goes Into Local Hall of Fame — Al McCullock, who won 235 games and two regional championships in 15 years as Herndon High School’s baseball coach, was recently inducted into NOVA Baseball Magazine’s “Home Plate Club” Hall of Fame. [NOVA Baseball Magazine]

Beware of Bears as Weather Warms — The Fairfax County Police Department is sharing precautions for how to keep bears away and what to do should you encounter one. They say while bears tend to avoid humans, they sometimes wander into suburban areas in search of food. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Image via @NickDowsett on Twitter

by Dave Emke — April 3, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Former Assistant Principal Passes Away — Bill Weaver, a longtime assistant principal at South Lakes and Herndon high schools, died last week at the age of 83. Weaver was also a former football coach at George Mason and James Madison high schools. [Southern Maryland Online]

Community Meeting Tonight on Temporary Fire Station — Residents are invited to come to the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) tonight at 7 p.m. to learn about the county’s plan for Reston’s temporary fire station, and to share their thoughts. [Reston Now]

County Fire Welcomes New Recruits — After 28 weeks of training, new members of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue graduated from training Friday evening. Some began work the next morning, while others started on the job today. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Police: Watch for Signs of Gang Activity — The Fairfax County Police Department says certain types of graffiti can be an indicator of increased gang presence in a community. In addition, they are sharing tips for parents to look for in kids who may be at risk. [WTOP]

by Dave Emke — March 30, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

State FBLA Conference is April 7-8 in Reston — Numerous local students are among the 120 from Fairfax County who have qualified for the state FBLA-PBL leadership conference. Among them are Cyril Antoney, Adam Asif, Amanzeb Aurangzeb, Rochelle Barasona, Rahbar Chowdhury and Ryan Terrell of Herndon High School; and Spencer Alston, Jennifer Alvarez, Kian Attari, Jon Burbach, Juhi Chandrabhatha, Ayah Elnafe, Conor Gill, Noah Goldstein, Ajit Gupta, Ian Hughes, Jarius Johnson, Rachel Kessler, Bardia Kimiavi, Eric Kiss, Jesse Lynch, Davi Meran, Rabia Mohamednur and Ahmed Rabani of South Lakes High School. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Bechtel Exec Gets Black Women in Business Award — Charlene Wheeless, Bechtel’s principal vice president for global corporate affairs, has been named one of the 25 Influential Black Women in Business by the Network Journal. Wheeless also serves on the boards of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and Reston Hospital Center. [Press Release]

‘Sacred Profane’ Coming to CenterStage — Featuring an all-women cast of diverse ages, cultures and ethnicities, the show features music compositions, pop songs and classical music to create a “loose, provocative canvas with bodies in motion.” It is set for Reston Community Center’s CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road) on April 5. [Reston Connection]

by Dave Emke — March 27, 2017 at 9:00 am 9 Comments

Fog Advisory in Effect Through Morning — A dense fog advisory that has been in effect for the area since early this morning has been extended until noon. Visibility of a quarter-mile or less remains possible in spots. [National Weather Service]

County Conducting Homelessness Survey — Fairfax County’s Office of Public Affairs and Office to Prevent and End Homelessness are collaborating with George Mason University communications students to collect data about the perception of homelessness in the county. Citizen feedback is requested by April 8. [Fairfax County/Survey Monkey]

Local Artist Featured in DC ShowJ’han, an artist from Herndon, will be featured in the “Pancakes and Booze” art show at Penn Station (801 E St. NW) on April 6. J’han is an expressionist, surrealist and abstract artist. [Facebook]

More Taking the Toll Road So Far in 2017 — The Dulles Toll Road collected $23 million in tolls in January and February. That number is up from the collected totals in 2015 and 2016. The number of trips on the road in January and February was about 3.6 percent more than predicted. [WTOP]

Coffee Shop Hopes to Be Up and Running Soon — Roasting operations at Weird Brothers Coffee (321 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) are underway, and they hope to be serving espresso, nitro cold brew, blended chillers, fruit smoothies and more soon. [Weird Brothers Coffee]

HHS Grad Has Sights Set on World Championships Run — Hiruni Wijayaratne, a 2009 Herndon High School graduate, is training hard in the attempt to qualify to represent her native Sri Lanka as a marathon runner in the 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships. [Sunday Times in Sri Lanka]

by Dave Emke — March 20, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Fun in Fairfax - Instagram - Mar. 19

Reminder: RA Board Special Meeting Tonight  The special meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors originally scheduled for March 14 will be held tonight at 6:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the findings in StoneTurn Group’s review of Reston Association’s purchase of the Tetra/Lake House property and the subsequent overruns in the cost of its renovation. [Reston Association]

New Town Center Restaurant Seeks Employees — Hen Penny is the newest restaurant by Pheast Food Group, a subsidiary of Thompson Hospitality. Management says it is planning to open March 30 at 1820 Discovery St., the former home of Pheast’s BRB. The business is looking to hire cashiers, delivery drivers, cooks and more. [Pheast Food Group]

St. Johns Wood Redevelopment Again on Agenda — The Reston Planning & Zoning Committee will have an informational meeting March 27 at 7:30 p.m. on Bozzuto’s planned redevelopment of St. Johns Wood. [Reston Planning & Zoning Committee]

SLHS Grad’s Team Falls in NCAA Tournament — Princess Aghayere, South Lakes High School Class of 2015, played 12 minutes for the University of Pennsylvania Quakers in their NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament first-round game Saturday against Texas A&M. Penn led by 21 points early in the fourth quarter; however, Texas A&M staged the biggest comeback in women’s tournament history and came out victorious, 63-61. Aghayere scored 2 points and recorded 2 rebounds. [Penn Athletics]

Students Named to All-State Band, Orchestra — The All-Virginia High School Band and Orchestra will both perform April 8 in Manassas. Among the performers will be 77 students from Fairfax County, including several local students. On the All-State Band are Catie George and Mason Moy (South Lakes High School); and Nathan Coughlin, Noah McKee and Emma Rood (Herndon High School). Members of the All-State Orchestra include Herndon High’s James Adams and Ethan Morad. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo via @FunInFairfax on Instagram

by RestonNow.com — March 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

Reston Parkway underpass on W&OD TrailIt’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend and a lot of people will be out celebrating. Safety officials are reminding residents to party responsibly and to be sure to have a safe ride home.

As part of the effort to keep everyone safe, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program is offering revelers free rides (up to a $20 value) through its SoberRide campaign. The program is open to everyone throughout the Washington region through 4 a.m. Saturday.

To get the free ride, use the Lyft app and enter the promo code SOBERRIDE.

Partying or not, though, there will be plenty of things to do in the Reston area this weekend. Here are just some of the options available.

  • The Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) will host its annual spring flea market Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The free event is available to residents of all ages. For more information, call 703-476-4500.
  • The fourth annual Maker Faire NoVa is Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at South Lakes High School and Langston Hughes Middle School. Tickets at the door will be $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $5 for children. Family packs of five tickets will be $40.
  • Teen job fairs and resume-building workshops will be offered Saturday by Fairfax County at Chantilly High School (4201 Stringfellow Road) from 10 a.m. to noon, and at Oakton High School (2900 Sutton Road, Vienna) from 1-3 p.m.
  • Reston Town Center is hosting “Family Fun Saturdays” throughout March to benefit Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston. This week’s schedule features horse-drawn carriage rides, free funnel cakes and a performance by the McGrath Academy of Irish Dance. The event will go from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.
  • The opening reception of Greater Reston Arts Center’s “Emerging Visions” exhibit is set for 6-8 p.m. Saturday. The show features curated works of art created by Fairfax County students from South Lakes, Herndon and Oakton high schools, and it will be on display through April 1.
  • The Social Justice & Peace Conference will be Saturday from 12:30-6 p.m. at United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive). The free event will include workshops on how people from different religious backgrounds can support immigrants, the trans community, environmental justice and more.
  • A bird walk at Sunrise Valley Wetlands and Polo Fields will be offered from 7:30-10:30 a.m. Sunday. Check out Reston Association’s WebTrac for more information.
  • Reston Community Players’ will put on “Rock of Ages” tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., as well as Sunday at 2 p.m. at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road). Use the password “St. Paddy’s” when purchasing tickets for tonight’s show by phone or in person to get them for $10. Regular tickets for each performance of the show, which will run through April 1, are $25.
  • A Kennedy Center Production of “From the Mouths of Monsters” will be performed at Herndon High School (700 Bennett St.) tonight at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and children.
  • Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will be visited by Frying Pan Farm Park on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon, featuring animal education, stories and crafts. For adults, the lecture series on World War I will continue at 2 p.m. Sunday.
  • Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music tonight for St. Patrick’s Day, with Mark Scott from 4-8 p.m. followed by Sam Gunderson from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center St.) will have the opening reception for its exhibit “There’s No Place Like Home,” by members of the Great Falls Studios, from 3-5 p.m. Sunday. The show will be on display through April 8.
  • The Reston Town Center Singles Meetup group has an event scheduled for tonight at Ned Devine’s Irish Bar & Restaurant (2465 Centreville Road, Herndon). Shake 3X will perform at the restaurant from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

by Dave Emke — March 3, 2017 at 9:00 am 25 Comments

Morning Notes - Winter

Local Meeting on County Budget is Saturday — Residents of the Hunter Mill District will have their chance to weigh in on the proposed Fairfax County FY2018 budget from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Frying Pan Farm Park visitor center. [Reston Now]

‘Monsters’ to Be on Stage at Herndon HS — The Herndon High School Drama Boosters will present “From the Mouths of Monsters,” a Kennedy Center Production inspired by Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” March 17-19. [Herndon High School Theatre]

Wolf Trap Summer Lineup Features Big Names — Aretha Franklin, Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp and Sheryl Crow are just a few of the many top acts who will perform this year at Wolf Trap. Mary J. Blige will kick off the summer season with a show May 25, followed two days later by Fifth Harmony. [Wolf Trap]

Reston Association Elections About to Begin — Ballots can be cast starting Monday in this year’s Reston Association Board of Directors election. Eleven candidates in total are vying for four seats on the nine-member board. No incumbents are running. [Reston Association]

by Dave Emke — February 27, 2017 at 9:00 am 10 Comments

Morning Notes - Winter

Officer’s Name to Be Made Public — The Fairfax County Police Department has been informed by the FBI that there is no credible threat to the officer who shot and killed a Herndon man Jan. 16, ending a chaotic barricade/hostage situation. Police Chief Edwin Roessler says the officer’s name will be released. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Community Council on Land Use Meets Tonight — The group, chaired by former county planning commissioner Walter Alcorn, aims to produce a set of recommendations that would improve Fairfax County’s public outreach and community engagement in the land use and development process. It plans to meet every other Monday at 7:30 p.m., through April 24, at the Fairfax County Government Center. [Fairfax County]

Robin McGreer/FCPDPolice Say Man Bites Another’s Face in ‘Bias-Related’ Attack — Robin McGreer (pictured), 35, of McLean, faces a charge of maliciously causing bodily injury after police say he used racial slurs while threatening a man before biting him, resulting in a “significant facial wound.” The incident took place in a Tysons Corner Center parking lot. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Australian Company Takes Full Ownership of Greenway — Macquarie Atlas Roads last week became full owner of the Dulles Greenway. The company’s chief executive said he hopes to boost revenues by improving entry and exit points. [Australian Financial Review]

Reston Native Working to Defend Against Cyber Threats — Cmdr. Nick Shur is serving in the U.S. Navy Reserves as a member of Space and Warfare Systems Command, which works to improve cyber war-fighting capability and enhances technology on surface ships, aircraft and submarines. [Fairfax Times]

Herndon High Grad Is a Diamond Star — Ky Parrott, of the Herndon High School Class of 2013, has been named to the preseason first-team all-conference baseball team in the Colonial Athletic Association. A senior at James Madison University, Parrott has started the season strong as well. [JMU Breeze]

by Dave Emke — January 10, 2017 at 11:30 am 29 Comments

Ryan Alcorn and Jonathan Rodriguez Chicas ('Primo')

His name is Jonathan Chicas. But his friends call him “Primo.”

“‘Primo’ means ‘cousin’ in Spanish,” said Ryan Alcorn, a senior at Herndon High School and a Reston resident. “He’s like family.”

And when he was going through some tough times recently, his local “family” was there to help him out. He had fallen sick with pneumonia and was facing a seemingly insurmountable medical bill.

His worries were alleviated when the bill was covered in less than 24 hours, thanks to a GoFundMe page and a community that supports those in need.

“I was sure that I was going to need to leave school to pay this,” Jonathan said. “Wow, I was so happy.”

Jonathan, a junior at Herndon High School, came to the U.S. with his family from El Salvador. Living in Herndon, they sometimes have trouble making ends meet. To pay the bills, Jonathan sometimes has to help out by doing odd jobs.

Recently, he was working on a concrete job in unfriendly weather.

“It was cold — very, very cold,” he said.

It wasn’t long after that he started to feel sick — very, very sick.

“I was sneezing and I was getting headaches,” he said. “The next day, it was getting worse.”

Jonathan tried to fight the illness without taking medicine or going to the doctor. Instead, he visited the school clinic.

“I didn’t want to go to the hospital, because I knew it was going to be very, very expensive,” he said, adding that he does not have health insurance.

After a few days, his health turned from bad to worse.

“I went to the clinic and I told the nurse that now I was feeling miserable,” he said. “I went to the bathroom and I was vomiting, and I saw some red spots, and I knew it was blood.”

An ambulance was summoned to transfer Jonathan to the emergency room. He spent a morning there, where he received a pneumonia diagnosis. He was given antibiotics and quickly felt better. After about a week of recovery, he was good as new.

That is, until the bill arrived.

“Just from the hospital, not including the ambulance, it was $4,196.75,” he said. “For three hours.”

Jonathan felt sick again, this time for another reason.

“We were supposed to have dinner, and I wasn’t hungry at all,” he said. “I had lost it, to be honest.”

Ryan had been used to hearing from “Primo” regularly. They spent a lot of time together after becoming friends in personal fitness class.

When he hadn’t seen his friend around or heard from him for several days, he texted to ask what was going on.

“He was like, ‘Aww man, I was really sick,'” Ryan said. “He didn’t really go into detail, so I was just like, ‘All right, I’m glad you’re feeling better.'”

But when Jonathan brought the bill over to show Ryan, the true scope of the problem came to light.

“He looked really depressed, and that was something I’d never really seen before,” Ryan said. “I kept telling him on the way home, ‘I think everything’s going to be all right, it’s going to be OK.’ But I knew at that point he didn’t believe me, and I don’t know if I totally believed myself.”

Jonathan’s mother makes $380 a week at her job, and his dad makes some cash here and there through handyman work, but not much in the winter. In addition to helping to pay the bills, Jonathan sends money back to El Salvador to help his grandmother.

“I kind of know his financial situation, about having to pay other bills,” Ryan said. “The amount of work he has to put in just to get by is incredible.”

Ryan floated the idea of a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to pay the bill.

“I knew, just from the people that Jonathan is friends with and people he’s met, they all love him,” he said. “I knew they would come out and support him.”

Jonathan wasn’t as optimistic, but Ryan was able to convince him. The page launched Jan. 4.

And it took off, Ryan said.

“At first it was people we knew, good friends of Jonathan, and then it was people who had heard about him or just heard the story, and they all wanted to get involved,” he said. “That’s truly a testament to this community that we have here. I knew there were some really great people, but I didn’t realize how much support they could bring for someone they barely knew. I just thought that was awesome.”

From the GoFundMe page:

“Our friend Jonathan, known to many as ‘Primo’ needs our help. In early December Jonathan caught pneumonia and despite trying to soldier through it, he ended up in the Emergency Room. Primo doesn’t have insurance and he’s now facing a staggering medical bill. In addition to being a student a Herndon High School, Jonathan works multiple jobs to support himself and his family. He’s considering dropping out to take on yet another job to pay this bill. If we can all pitch in, even a little bit, we might be able to cover the expenses and keep Primo on the path to graduation. If you know Primo, you know just how wonderful a guy he is. He needs our help. Please consider donating today.”

Donations of $10, $50, $100 and more came pouring in. The GoFundMe page hit its $4,197 goal within a day, and the total has now risen to nearly $5,000.

The money is currently in a special account, being handled by Ryan’s mother, Kristina. It will soon be transferred to pay the bill in full, with some cash left over to help Jonathan’s other expenses.

Jonathan said he is hopeful that he can pursue a career in the U.S. Marine Corps once he is done with school. He is involved in the ROTC program at Herndon High and he has been talking with a recruiter about making his dream a reality.

“(I’d be) serving the country that has helped me,” he said. “I just want to protect my family and my friends, so they can have the rights that they have.”

Ryan said that selfless determination is further proof of the type of human being “Primo,” his “cousin,” is.

“He’s just a nice guy, really kind,” Ryan said. “He really is loved by this community.”

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