Reading wasn’t something Gladimi Petit Carnogursky, a seventh-grader at Herndon Middle School, considered fun.
But when his school joined the Learning Ally Great Reading Games this year, he latched on.
“My parents don’t really let me play video games, but I have an iPad,” he said. “So I read a lot on it.”
A lot indeed. Gladimi read over 12,000 pages during the seven-week competition. That wasn’t just the most in his school — it was the most in the entire state of Virginia.
“I like the competition,” he said when asked about his motivation.
So did many other students at HMS, as the school won first place in the Metro DC region in the contest and came in seventh place nationally. Participating students read more than 72,000 pages, totaling about 14.5 million words.
The Great Reading Games is geared toward students who struggle with reading traditional text, because of dyslexia or other reasons. Learning Ally provides audiobook technology that offers more than 82,000 human-narrated books to students, who can download them directly to computers, smartphones and tablets so they can read wherever they are.
Gladimi’s friend Trent Norris, who read the third-most pages at HMS, said he liked being able to have a book anywhere he went. He said his mother encouraged him to keep reading through the seven weeks of the Games.
“I liked to read when I was going somewhere with my mom,” he said. “My sister and my mom would be talking, and I’d decide to listen to music, but then I thought I should read instead.”
At a ceremony at the school Friday morning, the more than 100 participating students were honored for the reading they did, and each received certificates of accomplishment. The students who read the most received prizes as well, with Gladimi taking home the top prize: a set of Beats headphones.
“Think about how much this means to me as a principal,” HMS Principal Justine Klena told students. “You all are reading so much, and that is the foundation of education — this is the reason we’re all here. You are engaging in reading and that means you’re getting smarter every day.”
Margot Axenson-Mumford, who read the fifth-most pages among participating students, said she enjoyed reading the first four Harry Potter books for the first time, and she plans to complete the series as she continues to be an avid reader. Her mother, Theresa, said she is impressed by her daughter’s accomplishment.
“I’m really proud of Margot,” she said. “She’s worked really hard.”
Pictured at top: The top 9 students, from left, were Gladimi Petit Carnogursky, Emma Baker, Trent Norris, Christina Roque, Margot Axenson-Mumford, Fabrizio Abarca, Seleni Aguirre-Echeverria, Charles Marotta and Nathan Emmatty. Pictured at bottom: Trent Norris accepts his accolades from Herndon Middle School teachers.
But even if you want to stay away from the big Founder’s Day crowd and long-distance running doesn’t sound like a fun time for you, there are plenty of other ways you can enjoy yourself this weekend.
Here is just a sampling of what’s going on in the Reston area in the next couple days.
- Saturday at Lake Anne Plaza, Founder’s Day will mark Reston’s 53rd anniversary. The festivities will take place between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and will include fun for the whole family. Make sure to check out the full schedule.
- The Runners Marathon of Reston will have runners all over South Reston from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday. There are still a few slots open for registration, and volunteers are also still needed.
- Benefitting the Friends of Reston, the Nature House 5K run/walk will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Drive). The course mostly consists of paved walkways in neighborhoods as well as pathways at the Nature Center and through Glade Stream Valley Park.
- Two concerts are scheduled for Sunday at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road) at Reston Community Center. Trout Fishing in America will be performing at 3 p.m., with Dana and the Glorious Birds going on stage at 7. Tickets for the first show are $5 for Reston residents and $10 for non-residents; tickets for the evening show are $15 for Reston residents and $20 for non-residents.
- NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) is performing “Boeing, Boeing” through April 30. Performances this weekend are tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m., along with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday. Tickets are $35-$55.
- Events at Reston Town Center this weekend include wine tasting at Il Fornaio (11990 Market St.) on Saturday and Zumba in the pavilion on Sunday.
- The opening reception for “First Blooms” by artist Dorothy Donahey at Reston Art Gallery and Studios (11400 Washington Plaza W.) will be Sunday from 2-4 p.m.
- The drama department at Herndon Middle School (901 Locust St.) will present “Romeo & Juliet” tonight at 7 p.m., and at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10.
- At Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive), there will be a showing of kids’ movie “Open Season” and a young-adult writing workshop on Saturday.
- A bird walk is scheduled for the Twin Branches Nature Trail from 7:30-10:30 a.m. Sunday. No pre-registration is required for the free activity.
- “There’s No Place Like Home” will end its exhibit at ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center St.) on Saturday.
- Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music tonight, 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., from Revelator Hill featuring Bobby Thompson. DJ Kram will play Top 40 hits Saturday night.
- There will be a dance from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday at Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road). Dancers of all skill levels are welcome to foxtrot, swing, cha-cha and waltz. Cost is $5 for Reston residents and $10 for non-residents.
Girl Scout cookies are finding good homes thanks to a Reston girl with a charitable heart.
Julia Cartwright, a member of Girl Scout Troop 753, has donated several cases of cookies each to the Reston District Station of the Fairfax County Police Department, the North Point station of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter.
Her father, Alan, said Julia is one of the top Girl Scout cookie sellers in the organization’s Nation’s Capital chapter. The 13-year-old has sold 1,113 boxes this year — all through her own work, her dad emphasized. And when people said they didn’t want any, she offered another option.
“She would ask if they’d like to make a donation to a charitable cause,” Alan said. “With those donations, she turns that into cookies and she gets to make the choice of where they go.”
The Herndon Middle School seventh-grader has done this for the past few years, her dad said. In previous years, she has donated cookies to the U.S. military. This year, she chose to help community organizations in the Reston area.
Alan said the recipients of Julia’s cookie donations this year were all very appreciative of the gesture. He said the firemen insisted on taking a picture with Julia, and the police station has forwarded her information on to the Fairfax County police chief so he can extend his gratitude.
Through her family’s church, Fairfax Church of Christ, Julia has also provided charitable donations to the Washington, D.C., homeless cause. In addition, she volunteers time removing invasive plant species at Walker Nature Center, and she and her parents are all planning to volunteer with the Embry Rucker Shelter in future as well.
“She has a heart of gold,” her father said. “She’s always trying to help others.”
Pictures courtesy Alan Cartwright
Reminder: Community Meeting on Street Designs Tonight — Bike lanes, crosswalks and center turning lanes will be among the topics of conversation at a Fairfax County Department of Transportation community meeting tonight at Dogwood Elementary School. Colts Neck Road, North Shore Drive and Twin Branches Road are being considered for the changes. [Reston Now]
Local Students Named to Honors Choir — A total of 77 Fairfax County middle-school students have been named to the 2017 All-Virginia Middle School Honors Choir, which will perform April 27-29 in Blacksburg. Among the honorees are Chelsea Camacho, Hannah Carter, Violet Sather and Thalia Tran from Langston Hughes Middle School; and Johnny Park, Hannah Townsend and Mackenzie Trimble from Herndon Middle School. [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Fellowship Square Foundation Names New Director — Christy Zeitz (pictured), formerly the executive director of HomeAid Northern Virginia, is the new executive director of the Fellowship Square Foundation. Zeitz was also the former director of development for the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance of Reston. The Reston-based Fellowship Square Foundation provides affordable housing and supportive services to low-income seniors and persons with disabilities. It operates four properties, including Lake Anne Fellowship House and Hunters Woods Fellowship House in Reston. [Fellowship Square Foundation]
Home Listings Down in County, Sales Up — The number of active home listings in Fairfax County in January was 1,977. That number is down 17.4 percent from a year ago. Meanwhile, 794 homes were sold in the month, up 6.9 percent from January 2016. The average sale price was $545,772, up 8.1 percent. [Fairfax County]
Photo of 1900 Reston Metro Plaza courtesy James Schaeffer Jr. on Facebook; photo of Christy Zeitz courtesy Fellowship Square Foundation
Justine Klena, who has served as principal at Herndon Middle School since 2008, has been named the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) 2016 Outstanding Principal and is a finalist for the Washington Post 2016 Principal of the Year award.
Klena is praised for providing the necessary support for each student to succeed academically as well as socially; staff members encourage students from all backgrounds to engage in activities including performing arts, National Junior Honor Society, Spanish for Fluent Speakers, and higher level classes.
HMS Instructional coach Emily Preston says Klena is “why great teachers make this school their home.”
“Justine exemplifies what it means to be a collaborative lead,” Preston told FCPS. “She models what it is to be a learner, promotes the best interests of students at every turn, and maintains perspective by keeping a close tie to what is happening in classrooms.”
FCPS says that from the start, Klena has set a course to make meeting student needs the primary focus and providing teachers with more support to accomplish this.
Klena has instituted professional conversations with staff members at quarterly Snack and Study meetings, invited teachers to take a course on “Differentiation for Diverse Learners,” and created an environment characterized by collaboration and trust that encourages innovation.
When the Math 8 team proposed teaching pre-algebra, Klena supported them with resources and logistics to give them planning time and authority to make decisions.
After achieving success on the required SOL (Standards of Learning tests) in 2014, 28 of the pre-algebra students, mostly English language learners, were recommended and enrolled in algebra honors in ninth grade, setting them on a course for more advanced math in high school.
Klena focuses on equitable access for all students into rigorous courses; during the past school year, 10 percent more Black and Hispanic students were taking four honors classes, an effort to make membership in those academics more representative of the school’s total population.
Klena encourages parents of students who are eligible for level IV advanced academic programs to remain at Herndon rather than transferring while helping staff members respond to the wide variety of needs of the students.
She works with Herndon Pyramid elementary school principals offering the Young Scholars program to open honors classes to more students from diverse backgrounds.
Klena has also worked with families outside the classroom, offering support to families who live in poverty or have experienced traumatic border crossings. Read More