Mary Ann Flynn, a long-time Fairfax County Public School teacher and community leader, died last week at the age of 85.
Flynn was an educator at Hunters Woods, Dogwood, and Terraset elementary schools for more than two decades, primarily teaching first grade. She was among the first teachers at Dogwood and Terraset, when that school first opened in 1977, her family says.
“She used to say she loved teaching first grade because she could still do the math,” daughter Merri Flynn told Reston Now. “Really, it was because…it was the year she got to see such huge improvement because it was the year that most children learned to read. And she really loved being able to help them learn to read.”
She was beloved as a teacher. Her son Christopher attended Terraset while his mother taught there and has received notes with fond remembrances from former students all week.
“You can’t get away with a whole lot [at school] when your mom’s down the hall,” Christopher said. “A lot of people I went to school with remember her as a teacher.”
The family says “dozens of folks” have commented on a post they made on Facebook about Flynn, who was loved by family and pupils because of her compassion, generosity, thoughtfulness, and listening skills.
“I think people felt comfortable with her because she was quiet and an excellent listener,” Merri said. “She was always interested in what people were saying about their lives and she would remember details.”
She also loved sharing and seeing photos of loved ones.
“She was one of those rare people who really loved seeing pictures of other people’s family, especially babies and children,” Merri said with a laugh.
After spending time in San Francisco, D.C., and Norfolk, Flynn and her husband Tom, a Naval officer, settled in Reston in 1970. It became their home for the next several decades.
Even after Flynn retired as a public school teacher in 1992, the couple remained very active in the Reston community. The Flynns helped out at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, running its Angel Christmas and Birthday Club. Both of these programs worked through the local nonprofit Cornerstones to provide gifts to children.
The couple was honored by the Virginia General Assembly in 2003 for their community service efforts.
Flynn also assisted with weddings at the church, sometimes walking up and down the aisles.
“She wanted to make sure no one was chewing gum,” Merri Flynn said.
As a mother and grandmother, she was always present.
“She had a big smile whenever anyone she loved entered the room,” Thomas Flynn, Mary Ann’s grandson, said. “She just made you feel very special whenever you were talking to her. There was a kind of beam shining on you because everything was just about you.”
Flynn’s commitment to education went beyond her career. She helped to set up a library at Falcons Landing, a military retirement community in Potomac Falls that she and her husband moved into in 2014.
“She was a lifelong educator, but she did it in a really gentle way,” Merri said. “She never talked down to someone or made them feel less than.”
According to those who knew her, Flynn’s defining quality was her dedication to being an advocate for her family and students.
“She was your champion,” Merri said. “She always had your back.”
Mary Ann Flynn is survived by her husband Tom, three children, and two grandsons, Andrew and Thomas. Her death was preceded by that of her parents and a son, Thomas Edward Flynn IV.
The visitation and funeral mass will be held tomorrow (Aug. 31) at St. John Neumann Catholic Church at 11900 Lawyers Road, starting at 10 a.m.
The burial will take place at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery, where Flynn will join her son Thomas.
Local students are responsible for two new state historical highway markers that Virginia will install in recognition of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) history.
Earlier this summer, students from across the Commonwealth submitted ideas for new historical markers as part of a contest celebrating AAPI Heritage month. Gov. Ralph Northam announced five winners on Aug. 3, including two that were submitted by students from the Fairfax County area.
Students from Hunters Woods Elementary in Reston nominated W.W. Yen for a marker. He was the first international student to earn a bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia and went on to become an important leader in Chinese government. The school now has a dorm and scholarship named after him.
Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School students in Falls Church proposed highlighting their city’s Vietnamese immigrant community, which grew after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. During the subsequent surge in immigration to the U.S., many of the people who came to the D.C. area settled in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood and, later, Falls Church.
Today, the D.C. area is home to the third-largest Vietnamese community in the country, and the Eden Center is among the largest Vietnamese shopping centers.
The other new historical highway markers highlight Japanese American football player Arthur Azo Matsu, former Korean foreign minister Kim Kyusik, and Filipinos who served in the U.S. Navy.
“Throughout history, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have made significant contributions to our Commonwealth and our country, but too often their stories remain untold,” Northam wrote in the press release. “As we continue working to tell a more comprehensive and inclusive Virginia story, I am grateful for the efforts of Virginia students and educators in helping elevate the voices of prominent AAPI Virginians with these five new historical markers.”
Now a rising fifth-grader at Hunters Woods Elementary, Benjamin Roxbury was in fourth grade when he and a few other students nominated Yen for the historical marker contest.
He hopes when people read it, they discover that learning is universal.
“Families may come from different parts of the world, but school brings us together,” Benjamin said. “I like that we get to learn from different people.”
Makayla Puzio, who taught him last year, says school officials told her about the contest and she thought it would be a good hands-on, project-based assignment to help students learn about state history and how to conduct research.
Other figures suggested by students in Puzio’s fourth-grade class included local author Helen Wan and peace activist Marii Kyogoku Hasegawa. But the nomination from Benjamin’s group ultimately stood out to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which chose the new markers.
“They were really excited,” Puzio said of the students’ reaction to their selection. “It makes them feel proud of the work that they did. I don’t know if they really thought that was going to happen.”
For Griffin and Oliver Hardi, the Henderson Middle School students behind the Eden Center marker, the opportunity to honor the local Vietnamese community and tell their stories resonated on a personal level.
“Our mom is an immigrant too, so it’s great to see Asian-American history recognized,” Griffin said by email. “And the food at the Eden Center is great!”
Puzio says this experience could become a point of pride for these students for the rest of their lives.
“One of these students could be touring UVA and remember this person and historical marker,” said Puzio. “And be like ‘hey, in fourth grade, I did this. I’m the reason that this marker is here!”
Solar energy panels will be coming to dozens of Fairfax County public schools and facilities following the launch of a large-scale renewable energy initiative this week.
In a Tuesday release, the county has unveiled multiple solar power purchasing agreements with service providers, an agreement that allows the government to purchase solar-generated electricity from companies that install, maintain and operate solar power generation systems on county property.
County officials expect the new initiative could result in more than $60 million in electricity cost avoidance over the terms of the contracts. They expect the contracts to generate around 1.7 million megawatt-hours of clean renewable energy — equivalent to electricity used by more than 213,000 homes annually.
In a statement, Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill said the initiative was “a major step toward a more sustainable energy future.”
“Fairfax County is striving to promote and encourage the use of renewable energy as we reduce our carbon footprint. We are committed to making choices around energy resources that benefit the residents of Fairfax County now and in the future,” Hill wrote.
Here’s more from the Fairfax County Public School officials:
“The notification of the award is another successful point in our journey to move FCPS toward increased adoption of renewable energy sources,” according to FCPS School Board Chair Karen Corbett Sanders. “Our ongoing sustainability efforts are worthy of highlighting. FCPS has achieved an annual reduction of 14.5 percent in total energy use division-wide since 2014, a cost savings of more than $31 million. Our move toward solar reinforces the School Board’s commitment to our environmental stewardship responsibilities. Pursuant to School Board policy, FCPS will continue to take bold, innovative and sustained actions to help our country achieve climate stabilization. There are still many issues to navigate as we move forward with solar energy efforts that will require cooperation at all levels of government to ensure success.”
“We’re excited to be partnering with the County in a movement that’s good for our students, families and our environment, “said Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand. “Lower energy costs through solar power purchase agreements will enable FCPS to save millions of dollars while freeing up additional funds for classroom investments. We look forward to working with the County to expand this initiative to as many FCPS schools and facilities as possible. Our solar investment will also become an amazing learning lab for our students to reinforce the value and sustainability of solar energy.”
The school system was one of the first regional school districts in the country to install equipment to capture solar energy. Terraset Elementary School used solar heat collector tubes to capture energy from the sun when it opened in 1977.
The following schools in the area are being considered for solar modifications:
- Coates Elementary School
- Hunters Woods Elementary School
- Lake Anne Elementary School
- South Lakes High School
- Sunrise Valley Elementary School
- Terraset Elementary School
Photo via Unplash
Local Schools Receive “Common Sense Recognition” — Aldrin and Hunters Woods elementary schools in Reston and Clearview and Crossfield elementary schools and Carson Middle School in Herndon are a part of the 23 Fairfax County Public Schools recognized for their digital citizenship. [FCPS]
Fixing Up Reston Ball Field — The Reston Association recently uploaded a video about ball field maintenance. [YouTube]
Lights! Camera! Action! — People can watch “Jumanji” — a movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — at the Reston Community Center Hunters Woods today from 10 a.m.-noon. The movie is about four high school kids who become adult avatars in a video game’s jungle setting. The screening is free to attend and appropriate for all ages. [Reston Community Center]
A record number of teams competed in the Reston Historic Trust & Museum’s third annual Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta over the weekend.
This year, 56 teams assembled bright, duct-taped boats to compete in the race on Saturday – the largest number of teams to take part in the event Designs ranged from a large pinwheel to Slinky from Toy Story.
In addition to watching the race, attendees had the chance to run on a life-size human hamster wheel to make a snow cone, as well as fun with super. soakers.
Five Fairfax County public schools took part in the race, as well as several nonprofits, businesses, and families.
Lake Anne Brew House won first place in the navigator category with the fastest time of 1 minute and 45 seconds. Lake Anne Coffee House & Wine Bar took the “the titanic award” and the school winner was “Hunters Woods Elementary School.” From the crop of merchants, Lake Anne Brew also took first place in the “merchants” category. The complete results are below:
- Marty Boys
- Eighty-Fifty Nine
- Yellow Submarine
- Swim Team Kids
- The Wild Sloth
- Lake Anne Brew House
- RHOA’s Ark
- Hunters Woods Elementary
Registration for the next race is expected to open in early 2020. This year’s title sponsor was Griffin Owens Insurance Group.
Photo courtesy Charlotte Geary Photography
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
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
Silver Line snags — “Though there are three outstanding concrete issues for the line from Wiehle-Reston East to Ashburn, only one of them has had a plan approved to address it: The more than 1,000 faulty framing panels at stations.” [WTOP]
Mardi Gras party — Head to the Tall Oaks Assisted Living from 3-4:30 p.m. for a Mardi Gras celebration. Partygoers can enjoy a live performance by the Louis Pettinelli Jazz Duo. The event is free. [Facebook]
School lottery — Eyeing the magnet school program at Hunters Woods? Registration for FCPS elementary magnet lottery programs opened today at 8:30 a.m. [FCPS]
Photo via Marjorie Copson
(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
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:
- 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.
Hunters Woods Elementary in Reston will add a new, fresh salad bar to its daily lunchtime offerings on Wednesday this week.
Fairfax County Public Schools is partnering with the organization Real Food For Kids to bring fresh salad bars to all 141 elementary schools. School officials said they are gradually rolling them out, at a rate of around 30 schools per year for the next four years. The first schools received salad bars during the 2016-17 school year.
The Hunters Woods PTA described what the salad bar will be like and how it will fit in with current lunch offerings in a letter to families recently:
“Students will be able to go through the salad bar to get fresh fruits, vegetables, lettuce, proteins and other toppings. Students can purchase a stand-alone meal if they would like to get their fruits, vegetables, and protein from the salad bar, or they could get a hot entrée and a pretzel from the lunch line to accompany fruit and vegetable selections from the salad bar.”
The salad bar is scheduled to open this Wednesday, May 2, and the school’s PTA says volunteers are needed during the first two weeks to help ensure a smooth debut, and show students how to utilize it. Available volunteers can contact the school for details on how to help at 703-262-7400.
Photo: Fairfax County Public Schools
Elementary schools in Reston often give students in need food for the weekend.
But that resource largely ends in middle school, adding to challenge of adjusting to the unfamiliar and sometimes daunting environment of middle school.
When school counselors at Langston Hughes Middle School realized this was the case, they partnered with two non-profit organizations to create a food pantry for students who need meals over the weekend. Since the program launched this year, 20 students have signed on.
The list is growing. Roughly 35 percent of all students receive free or reduced meals at the school, down from nearly 40 percent in the 2014-2015 academic year, according to county data.
“This is run by the community. We want to support all the kids in our building over the weekend so they can be ready for school,” said Marissa Brooks, a counselor at the school.
To jumpstart the program, the school received a grant from Britepaths, a nonprofit organization that offers healthy meals, drinks and snacks over the weekend. Another nonprofit, Blessings in a Backpack, has also committed to providing bagged items through the end of the academic year.
The school has an Amazon wishlist and accepts donations from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. Accepted donations include dried fruit, snack packs, pasta, sauce and breakfast bars.
Other local schools like Hunters Woods Elementary School and South Lakes High School also offer similar programs.
Photo by Susie Finotti
Students who will be graduating from South Lakes High School next week walked familiar halls this morning to provide inspiration to the community’s youth.
In a new tradition, seniors were able to visit their elementary school alma maters and celebrate with the kids there. Schools documented via social media the occasion, which was described as a moving experience for all involved.
Let's Go Seniors, Let's Go! SVES alum and now SLHS graduates. #SLHS #FCPS #community pic.twitter.com/Za7FRZdkGg
— Sunrise Valley Elem (@SunriseValleyES) June 15, 2017
Familiar faces (Fox Mill alumni) are always welcomed back. Congratulations SL seniors! pic.twitter.com/UcvRW7gT4c
— Fox Mill ES (@FoxMillES) June 15, 2017
Congrats @southlakeshs seniors! Thanks for visiting and allowing us to celebrate with you! #onceamustangalwaysamustang pic.twitter.com/NHv0lZOtyD
— Hunters Woods ES (@HuntersWoodsES) June 15, 2017
Lake Anne congratulates our former dolphins on graduating from South Lakes! #SLgradwalk #caringculture pic.twitter.com/wfVzNUhPxW
— Lake Anne Elementary (@LakeAnneEs) June 15, 2017
FEES students celebrate SLHS 2017 graduates as they parade through the halls ! #ourFCPS pic.twitter.com/nk28hJQrLl
— Forest Edge (@ForestEdgeES) June 15, 2017
Sixth graders sang "Circle of Life" (Lion King) as South Lakes seniors walk the hallways of their elementary school. @southlakeshs pic.twitter.com/DoEU4sQZBm
— Floris Elementary (@FlorisSchool) June 15, 2017
“This is the first year for this Graduate Walk but it went so beautifully that we hope to make it a yearly tradition,” said Emily Burrell, spokesperson for South Lakes High School. “It was an emotional experience for the soon-to-be graduates and their elementary teachers. And the elementary students were thrilled to celebrate the graduates. They even made signs in the South Lakes colors. There were tears of joy all around.”
Students who did not attend an elementary school in Reston were allowed to choose which school they visited, Burrell said.
South Lakes High School’s seniors will graduate during a ceremony Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Bank Arena on the campus of George Mason University.
Photos courtesy South Lakes High School
Citizens Advisory Committee Meets Tonight — Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler is scheduled to speak at the Reston District Station’s Citizens Advisory Committee meeting tonight. The committee will meet at 7 p.m. at the Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive). [Fairfax County Police Department/Twitter]
SLHS Indoor Track Records Set — Senior Devyn Jones (pictured) set a school record in the 55-meter hurdles (8.31 seconds) during the state indoor championships last weekend in Hampton. In addition, the team of Sophie Halkett, Aly Rayle, Jordan Anderson and Olivia Beckner set a school record in the 4×800 meter relay (9 minutes, 20.2 seconds). All five record-setters earned All-State honors, as did Sean Casey, Jack Eggeman, Mary Gregory, Stevie Jones, Alex Loukili, Timiebi Ogobri, Peter Sepulveda, Jack Watkins and Don’ta Whitley. [South Lakes High School]
Magnet Program Lottery Registration Underway — Parents wishing to enroll their students in the magnet program at Hunters Woods Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, or other magnet programs in the county, must register their intention online. The lottery process began Monday and will end March 27, with the lottery itself to be held in early April. [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Running Women Welcome in Group — Registration is now underway for the 2017 Reston Runners Women’s Training Program. The group will meet every Monday from April 24 to June 12. The Reston Runners Women’s 5K is set for June 17. [Reston Runners]
Photo of Devyn Jones courtesy South Lakes High School track and field/Mary Ann Magnant
Hunters Woods Elementary School sixth grader Jae Canetti was eliminated from the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday.
Canetti was bounced in the fifth of six rounds on the word parseval (a nongrid airship usually having a car suspended beneath a gas envelope).
Canetti, 12, was making his third consecutive appearance in the bee. He won the Fairfax County competition earlier this spring to become one of 14 Virginia contestants in the 2014 national bee at National Harbor. Twelve spellers advanced to Thursday night’s finals.