Reston, VA

As Fairfax County Public Schools prepares for virtual classes, some private schools in Reston and Tysons are bringing students back into classrooms.

Four private and parochial school administrators told Reston Now a high demand for in-person instruction and their ability to socially distance students are the main reasons they are offering in-person learning.

At Ideaventions in Reston, admissions staff noticed an increase in applications over the summer that they attribute to their in-person opening. The school serves students in fourth through 12th grades. The academy gained five extra students, bringing their student population for the 2020-2021 school year to 62 students as opposed to last year’s 56, Juliana Heitz, the admissions director at Ideavations, said.

“The summer was surprising in terms of admissions,” according to Heitz.”We had to reopen admissions because so many people were looking for that in-person instruction.”

Green Hedges School in Vienna also noted an increase in enrollment interest for the 2020-21 school year, according to Jennifer Bohnen, who is the head of the school.

After initially planning for a hybrid of in-person and online classes, FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand announced in July that the public school system, which is the largest one in Virginia, would open virtually on Sept. 8 for the fall. Concerns about public health safety and staffing levels prompted the switch to fully online classes.

Unlike big public schools with larger class sizes, the private school administrators Reston Now spoke to said that they will be able to keep students spaced out.

Oakcrest School plans to move classes with 20 or more students outside, weather permitting. The school is looking to use its 23-acre campus near the Reston Presbyterian Church to keep its approximately 260 students safely spread out.

“We’re trying to implement as many safety precautions as possible without disrupting the normal rhythm of the school day,” said Miriam Buono, who heads up operations at Oakcrest.

To further ensure social distancing, Oakcrest is implementing unilateral stairways to avoid overcrowding in the halls. The school is also extending passing periods from five to 10 minutes to compensate for the stairways and to allow students to step outside for mask breaks.

In addition to figuring out how to keep students physically distanced, school administrators are also finding ways to deal with another new element: getting kids to wear face coverings for several hours.

“It’s a learning curve,” Kristen Rogers, the head of Academy of Christian Education in Reston, said. “We have little footprint stickers on the floor to remind them even when they’re lining up to go to the bathroom to stand 6 feet apart.”

To address the issue of mask fatigue, St. Joseph Catholic School in Herndon is allowing teachers and students to pull down face coverings when 6 feet apart or when alone. Additionally, the school is allowing students to remove masks while eating.

Even while many private schools in the Fairfax County area are planning for in-person learning, some are offering a virtual option for families with health concerns. The school administrators Reston Now spoke to also said that they have to remain flexible if new state guidelines or a COVID-19 surge require a switch to fully-virtual learning.

In addition to following Gov. Ralph’s Northam Phase 3 guidance, Heitz noted that Ideavations is also using Fairfax County’s COVID-19 dashboard and Harvard’s dashboard assessing COVID-19 risks levels.

Administrators want parents to know they are tracking the ongoing conditions to determine whether or not in-person classes are safe.

Photos via Oakcrest School/Facebook

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A new nursery school and day care program could be coming to Dranesville United Methodist Church.

The church, which already has a permit for a private school, is seeking to replace the current private school with a nursery school and day care program.

In an application submitted to Fairfax County on June 19, William Bliven, chairman of the church’s board of trustees, said the switch would “more broadly serve the surrounding community.”

The church is proposing no changes to its facilities, grounds or telecommunications facilities. However, 19 spaces for staff and parents — which are available on site — will be needed. The nursery and childcare program would have a maximum enrollment of 99 — 51 seats less than the previously approved private school.

The hours of the church would be tweaked slightly to accommodate working parents. The new program would be open on weekday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The application was accepted by the county earlier this month. Dates for future county meetings have not yet been docketed.

The church is located at 1089 Liberty Meeting Court in Herndon.

Photo via Google Maps

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A new preschool on North Village Road is bringing 35 jobs to the Reston area.

Primrose Schools, a private preschool franchise, recently expanded its reach by opening at 1309 N. Village Road in January.

In addition to the nearly three dozen jobs, Rina Patel and Urvi and Beau Athia, the franchise owners, have invested more than $5.5 million in the local economy through building renovation costs, according to a press release.

“We’re thrilled to bring new life to this space in the Reston community and provide a much-needed service for parents in the area,” Athia said in the press release.

With 10 classrooms and a playground, the 10,000-square-foot offers early education and care to more than 150 children and their families, the press release says.  The new facility — the 16th for Virginia — is part of a franchise that has more than 400 schools in 29 states and is accredited through AdvancED.

The school will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday (April 6) from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Photo via Primrose Schools 

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Students from a private performing arts school in Reston recently took home prizes at the 2019 Junior Theater Festival.

The festival, which ran from Jan. 18-20 in Atlanta, celebrated student-driven musical theater programs. In addition to watching students’ performances, the more than 6,600 students and educators were able to partake in interactive workshops led by Broadway and West End professionals.

The Lopez Studios Inc. Performing Arts Preparatory School (11425 S. Isaac Newton Square) won a Freddie G Award for Excellence in Ensemble Work.

Three students from Lopez Studios — Jillian Felder, Victoria Felder and Marisa Lopez — received call-backs for future Broadway Junior shoots that will be taped this summer in New York City. The shoots will be “how-to” choreography videos for soon-to-be-released Broadway Junior musicals.

Marisa Lopez and Marcus Pennisi were some of the students named to the Junior Theater Festival All-Stars. They performed in the All-Stars song during the festival’s closing ceremony.

Students from the school also performed “Seusical Jr.” — the musical version for kids based on the books by Dr. Seuss.

This isn’t the first time Lopez Studios has won awards at Junior Theater Festivals. Students from the school have won awards or made it to the final call-back every year of the festival going back to 2014.

Photo by James Barker Photography

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Reston Association’s Design Review Board approved minor changes to the size and number of windows for previously approved architectural designs for the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment on Tuesday night.

The redevelopment plans to transform the village center (12022 North Shore Drive) into a mostly residential neighborhood by adding 156 residential units, which include 42 two-over-two multi-family units, 44 single units and 70 multi-family units in two residential buildings. Nearly 8,500 square feet of retail and 5,800 square feet of office space are also slated for the site.

On Dec. 19. Stanley Martin Homes officially purchased the residential portion of the property from Jefferson Apartment Group. Currently, Stanley Martin is completing the site plan and brought “small changes” to abide by the county’s zoning to the Design Review Board.

Richard Newlon, the board’s chairman, said he was concerned about replacing some of the larger windows with smaller ones. “It’s not going to have the same architectural drama we thought we were getting before,” he said. “We’re always looking for good design and stuff that is a little bit different and a little bit progressive.”

Ultimately, the board approved the changes.

During the nearly three-hour-long meeting on Jan. 15, the Design Review Board also approved stream restoration with a year-long timeline for the Colvin Run Stream.

Tree clearing is set to begin for the stream restoration on Feb. 4, with an estimated completion of the work sometime in the summer. Planting will then follow in the fall.

The board also OK’d playground equipment and signs at the Primrose School of Reston (1309 N. Village Road).

An affected party — who did not show up to the meeting — had previously raised a concern about the size and color of a red plastic fire truck in the school’s playground.

“Reston is pretty much known for the lack of vibrant color in all of its playgrounds. It’s always supposed to be natural looks — greens and browns,” Newlon said. “I personally have never seen a green or brown fire engine.”

W. Neal Roseberry, the board’s vice chair and architect member, was the only member to vote against approving the playground equipment’s appearance.

Images via Reston Association/YouTube

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The potential for a nursery school at St. John Neumann Church looks a lot more likely.

On May 17, the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals approved a special permit amendment that will allow the addition of the nursery school. Located at 11900 Lawyers Road, the projected nursery and pre-school would be one of several in the Reston area.

The Rev. Joseph T. Brennan made the official announcement in the church bulletin last week.

“I want to share an update on the potential of a preschool at St. John Neumann. On Wednesday, May 17, 2017 the Board of Zoning Appeals for the County of Fairfax, Virginia approved the proposal to permit the addition of a nursery school. This is a significant step towards the possibility of a pre-school opening in the Fall of 2018. Please stay tuned as we continue to work out the next steps and examine the feasibility of this endeavor.”

A parish survey that was conducted last year indicated an interest in pursuing the school.

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St. John Neumann Catholic Community/Courtesy St. John Neumann

St. John Neumann Church (11900 Lawyers Road) is looking toward the prospect of adding a nursery school to its facility as early as 2018.

According to information printed in a recent church bulletin, the preschool would be state-licensed and would be operated under the direction of the Office of Catholic Schools of the Arlington Diocese.

A parish survey that was conducted last year indicated an interest in pursuing the school, according to the Feb. 12 bulletin.

“We are working with the diocesan-appointed attorney and have submitted a Proposed Special Permit Amendment Application to the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning. It is important to emphasize that we are in the early stages and that barring any roadblocks, the soonest the preschool would open is Fall of 2018.”

According to Reston Association’s Land Development Tracker, the special permit amendment application was filed with the county Jan. 27, and it is being reviewed for quality control before acceptance.

Photo courtesy St. John Neumann Catholic Community

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Ideaventions Academy/Credit: IdeaventionsIdeaventions Academy for Mathematics and Science will expand in the Fall of 2017, adding high school grades to the Reston private school.

Ideaventions launched in Reston in the Fall of 2015 with 18 students in grades 4 to 8.

Ideaventions’ mission statement is to allow students “to experience a personalized education in an environment where they can grow and explore their interests as they prepare for college. “

“Too often, our schools are overly-standardized, uninspired, and test-driven,” school co-founder Ryan Heitz said in a release. “They are focused more on processes rather than people. … We are a vibrant community designed for the intellectually curious — those who seek to engage in significant endeavors that reach beyond the classroom.”

The Ideaventions Academy Upper School is now accepting freshman applicants for the 2017-2018 academic year. The first high school class will graduate in 2021.

Heitz says the Upper School academic program will have a specialized focus on research and innovation, requiring students to pursue an individual research project over multiple years.

There will be an open house for prospective students and their parents on Saturday, Nov. 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The school is located at 12340 Pinecrest Rd.

For more information on the school, visit Ideaventions Academy website.

Photo: Ideaventions Academy/Credit: Ideaventions

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