Thursday Morning Notes

Take a Break Concert Tonight — It’s officially dance night with Radio King Orchestra at Lake Anne Plaza from 7-9 p.m. The concert is free and open for all ages. Attendees will also get the change to learn some dance moves. [Reston Community Center]

Local Students Earn College-Sponsored Merit Scholarships — Joshua Nielson of Herndon High School won a National Merit Brigham Young University Scholarship and Arabella Jariel of South Lakes High School won a National Merit Harvey Mudd Scholarship. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

New Look for Fairfax Alerts Traffic Notifications — The new format for traffic alerts allows users to look through a map to pinpoint the exact geolocation of traffic incidents. The update also standardizes how information about the location address, incident type and impact appear to users. [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Herndon School Earns Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence

Carson Middle School is among four schools in the state to earn the 2019 Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence — the highest recognition awarded for schools that excel in academics in the state.

The recognition, which is part of the Virginia Index of Performance awards, recognizes schools that go beyond state and federal accountability standards and achieve excellence goals set by the governor and the Board of Education.

The school met all state and federal achievement benchmarks and checked off on goals for elementary reading. Two schools in McLean — Chesterbrook Elementary School and Cooper Middle School — also got a nod from the governor, along with Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church.

In the county, 28 schools were named recipients of the Board of Education Excellence Awards and 22 schools earned the Board of Education’s Distinguished Achievement Awards.

Photo via FCPS

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Fairfax County Public Schools to Open Two Hours Late Friday

Public schools in Fairfax County will open two hours late tomorrow as wintry weather sweeps the county tonight and tomorrow morning.

FCPS announced the decision on Twitter around 6 p.m. today (Feb. 27) “based on the winter weather advisory in effect overnight.”

Locals can expect 1 to 3 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

File photo

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Not Your Average Joe’s to Host March Fundraiser for Hungry Kids

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:

  • Clearview
  • Coates
  • Dogwood
  • Terraset
  • Aldrin
  • Armstrong
  • 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.

File photo

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Reston, Herndon Schools Join Program Giving Students Free Snacks

Four schools in the Reston and Herndon areas are part of 39 Fairfax County public schools taking part in a new after-school food program that provides free meals or snacks to any student.

Fairfax County Public Schools’ Office of Food and Nutrition Services announced the sponsorship of the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program yesterday (Feb. 4).

One school in Reston and three in Herndon requested that the program provide them with meals. They include:

  • Herndon Elementary School (630 Dranesville Road)
  • Herndon Middle School (901 Locust Street)
  • Hutchison Elementary School (13209 Parcher Avenue)
  • Dogwood Elementary School (12300 Glade Drive)

Alexandria topped the list with the most requests from 16 schools, followed by 10 in Falls Church.

The program is part of the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which is backed by the United States Department of Agriculture. It is managed by the Virginia Department of Health’s Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Photo via @fcpsnews/Twitter

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Fairfax County Public Schools Cancel Afternoon, Evening Activities

With an inch of snow anticipated tonight and tomorrow, activities at Fairfax County public schools or on school grounds are canceled for this afternoon and evening.

FCPS wrote in a tweet today (Jan. 17) that the “expected wintry weather in our area tonight” prompted the decision.

The School Age Child Care Program will remain open until 6:15 p.m. tonight.

File photo

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Fairfax County Public Schools to Open Two Hours Late Tomorrow

(Updated at 8:30 a.m.) Fairfax County public schools are set to open two hours late tomorrow (Wednesday).

FCPS tweeted that tomorrow’s scheduled delay is due to “unexpected refreeze of roads and sidewalks overnight.”

School offices and central offices will open on time tomorrow.

Morning preschool classes will be canceled while afternoon preschool classes are set to start on their regular schedule. Full-day preschool and Family and Early Childhood Education Program-Head Start classes will start two hours later than the regular schedule.

Adult and community education classes are set to start on time.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Updated: Fairfax County Public Schools Cancel Tonight’s After School Activities

Updated at 12:30 p.m. — Fairfax County public schools will close by 6:15 p.m. 

“Due to the expected refreeze of roads tonight, FCPS facilities and school grounds will be closed starting at 6:15 p.m.,” FCPS tweeted at 12:26 p.m. today (Jan. 15). “All activities scheduled in FCPS schools or on school grounds for this evening must be completed by 6:15 p.m. or are canceled.”

FCPS tweeted last night that it would open two hours late today.

The delay was meant to allow more daylight for drivers and students who walk to school, according to the FCPS website.

School offices and central offices will open on time.

Morning preschool classes were canceled while afternoon preschool classes were set to start on their regular schedule. Full-day preschool and Family and Early Childhood Education Program-Head Start classes started two hours later than the regular schedule.

Adult and community education classes were set to start on time.

File photo

This story has been updated

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Del. Ken Plum: Shedding Light on Solar Energy in Virginia

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

While many of us express concern that we do not see as many solar collectors on Virginia roof-tops as we would like, the Commonwealth is showing significant progress on turning sunlight into electrical energy. As with any major change there are some hazy areas that need to be considered as well.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) as reported in the August 2018 issue of Virginia Business magazine, Virginia currently ranks 17th nationally with 631.3 megawatts of installed solar capacity. The ranking is a significant jump from 2016 when the state ranked 29th nationally. Even with the advanced standing, only 0.59 percent of the state’s electricity comes from solar. By way of contrast, North Carolina is second in the nation in installed solar capacity with 4,412 megawatts brought about by generous tax incentives. For North Carolina that is nearly five percent of their electricity supply.

Virginia’s future with solar appears bright with 59 notices of intent with the Department of Environmental Quality to install 2,646 megawatts of solar according to the Virginia Business article. Driving the expansion of solar energy is a sharp drop in price from $96 in 1970 to 40 cents per kilowatt this year and an insistence on the part of technology giants like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook, all of whom have a presence in Virginia, that their electric power come from solar systems. The Grid Transformation and Security Act passed by the General Assembly this year requires 5,000 new megawatts of solar and wind energy to be developed. Included in that total is 500 megawatts of small, roof-top panels.

Middlesex County Public Schools opened this year with two of its three schools powered by solar energy. Although a small, rural school system, Middlesex has the largest ground-mounted solar system of any school division in the state and is expected to save over two million dollars per year. Excess electricity generated is sent to the grid for credit for any electricity the schools takes from the grid at night through a net-metering arrangement.

Some shadows along the way can be expected with such a massive shift in the way electricity is produced. It takes about eight acres of land for each megawatt produced. Solar farms take up large amounts of land. Just last week the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors voted to deny a conditional-use permit for a 178-acre utility scale solar facility in the County. The supervisors indicated that they had questions about the project for which they did not receive adequate answers. One factor is likely to have been the results of a study by the American Battlefield Trust that indicated the project would be visible from some of the half-dozen signal stations around Culpeper County that were used during the Civil War to detect troop movement. The County depends on a high level of tourism based on its Civil War battlefields and apparently does not want to jeopardize its attraction to Civil War buffs.

The clouds will pass, and Virginia is on its way to a bright future with solar energy.

File photo

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Dogwood Elementary School Under Consideration for International Curriculum

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, which offers a trans-disciplinary framework could come to Dogwood Elementary School (12300 State Route 4721) soon.

The school has been named a candidate for the program, effective March 1 2018, according to a new release issued by the school system. According to the program’s website, IB classes aim to nurture and develop students between 3 and 12 into “caring, active participants in a lifelong journey of learning.”

Two years ago, Belvedere Elementary School (6540 Columbia Pike) was the first Fairfax County public school authorized as an IB PYP school.

According to the school system, schools selected to participate in the program are driven by a common vision: a commitment to high-quality, challenging and international education.

The school will receive on-and-off-site consultation from the program. Teachers will have access to IB’s online curriculum center, which includes teaching materials and participation in online forums. Since its introduction in 1997, the program is taught in over 109 countries around the world. Students are encouraged to strengthen their knowledge and skills across and beyond subject areas. Studies are guided by six themes of global significance.

For more information, contact the school’s principal, Mie Devers.

File photo.

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BASIS Independent McLean Open House

Curious Students. Expert Teachers. Endless Potential.  

At BASIS Independent McLean, a PreK-12 private school in Tysons Corner, students are inspired daily to discover their passions and learn at the highest international levels. Passionate expert teachers, a curriculum built from global best practices and an array of engaging extracurriculars, all unite to foster a joyful learning culture where all students can excel.

Join BASIS Independent McLean on November 4 for the first Open House of the school year, and experience our engaging teachers, dynamic classrooms and acclaimed program inaction!

November 4 | 10 a.m.
8000 Jones Branch Drive
McLean, VA 22102

Register here

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Virginia Department of Education Reconsidering Standardized Testing, Accreditation

The Virginia Department of Education is considering changing the benchmarks required for graduation and school accreditation.

The board is looking at lowering the verified credit requirement for students to five credits for both standard and advanced diplomas. The credits would come from math, science, reading, writing and social studies courses.

The department has scheduled meetings to get the input of communities around the state. The first meeting was held recently in Fairfax County, the Fairfax Times reported.

Currently, students must earn nine verified credits for an advanced diploma and six credits for a standard diploma. Verified credits are earned in classes that culminate in a Virginia Standards of Learning exam, also referred to as the SOLs.

The state wants to move towards “authentic performance assessments” instead of the traditional standardized exams for social studies and writing. One critique over the past few years, from students, parents and even teachers, is that the exams don’t allow students to demonstrate all of their knowledge.

The move away from standardized testing would also change the way schools are accredited. Schools earn their accreditation based on student performance on the SOL — 75 percent of students must pass the language arts exams and 70 percent have to pass the math, science and history exams for a school to be accredited.

The system described in the proposal would create three classifications for schools. Level I schools would be those “at or above standard,” Level II schools would be those “near standard or improving,” and Level III schools would be those “below standard.” The drop-out rates, chronic absenteeism, College and Career Readiness Index, would be scored.

Schools that are below standard would have the opportunity for accreditation under the new system. Level III schools would get accreditation, but would have to improve their performance within three years before losing accreditation.

The last meeting will be in August. The board is expected to review its plan in November before finalizing it at the end of the year.

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Nursery School Plans Continue for St. John Neumann Church

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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Nursery School Proposed for St. John Neumann Catholic Church

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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New Montessori Elementary/Middle School Planning Reston Opening

Berthold AcademyA former director of Reston’s Sunset Hills Montessori School is co-founding a new elementary and middle school slated to open its doors in or near Reston next fall.

Reston resident Garrett Wilhelm, who for years worked at Sunset Hills and most recently was director of The Boyd School’s Westfield campus, and Rodney Berthold, formerly the middle school dean at The Boyd School, are teaming up for the Berthold Academy for the Gifted and Talented.

Berthold Academy will be the area’s first Montessori school that focuses only on grades one through eight, said Wilhelm. Most Montessori schools start with or are strictly preschool programs.

“There are 57 Montessori schools in Northern Virginia — 23 of them in Reston/Herndon/Great Falls,” said Wilhelm. “There are only four in Northern Virginia that do elementary and middle school grades. None of them are elementary and middle school only.”

Montessori education is an approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori that emphasizes independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development.

Wilhelm says that method is ideal for children in elementary and middle school. Rather than lecture-based learning, students in mixed-age classrooms learn through self-directed discovery and small collaborative groups.

The school is not going for full accreditation by the American Montessori Society because it wants to mix in its own curriculum to prepare middle schoolers for traditional high school, Wilhelm said.

Tuition is expected to be about $15,000 a year. Fifteen students are already enrolled, and the first-year goal is to start with 40 students, said Wilhelm.

Berthold Academy already has a lineup of unique classes and speciality teachers, including:

  • Yoga and Mindfulness – taught by certified yoga teacher Jessica Simpson
  • Culinary Arts – taught by Emilia Cirker, a recent contestant on TV’s “Next Food Network Star.”
  • Music Production – taught by Mix Major’s DJ Enferno, who has worked with musicians such as  Madonna.
  • Entrepreneurial Education – taught by founder of IFormBuilder, Sze Wong.
  • IT/Coding/Programming – Taught by the team at IFormBuilder
  • Gardening (Farm to Table) – A full gardening program taught by Emilia Cirker in which the children will learn the value of growing, harvesting, and cooking organic produce.
  • STEAM program and Spanish instruction.

Wilhelm said the he and Berthold are very close to signing a lease for school space in Reston.

Want to learn more? Attend an information session Feb. 11 at The Harrison Apartments, 1800 Jonathan Way, Reston at 6:30 p.m. Babysitting will be provided.

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