Ethan Berlin has written for various comedians’ shows including George Lopez, Jon Stewart and Sarah Silverman. But his latest venture is writing a children’s book.
Berlin will be returning to his roots in Reston on June 2 (Saturday) to read his debut children’s book “The Hugely-Wugely Spider” at Scrawl Books. The reading will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The story tells the tale of the Itsy-Bitsy’s spider’s larger counterpart, who can’t fit into the water spout.
Part of the idea for the story came about when he was singing the Itsy-Bitsy Spider to one of his two kids. Berlin added that he was typically the bigger kid in his class growing up and always wondered if a bigger version of the Itsy-Bitsy Spider existed.
A 1995 graduate of South Lakes High School, Berlin said he loved doing theatre and comedy during his time at SLHS.
“The thing I lived for at South Lakes was theatre,” he said.
Berlin described himself as a “weirdo” in high school and said he’s grateful for how nicely he was treated at SLHS.
Now living in New Jersey, Berlin said he’s excited to read to kids in Reston and catching up with old friends. And if he could somehow maintain his comedy and writing career from Reston he said he would move back.
Image via Scrawl Books’ website.
Local police say there is no evidence connected to a threat of violence at South Lakes High School.
On Friday, police investigated the possibility of a threat after receiving a report that a student threatened to “shoot up” the high school on social media.
According to the report, the student posted a picture on Snapchat with guns. If anyone reported the incident, the student threatened to shoot at the school, according to a parent of one of the students who reported the incident.
In a statement to Reston Now, Fairfax County Police Sgt. Brad Woehlren said the threat was investigated and “no threats, charges or arrests” were made.
The parent said he was impressed with how the school and its security officer handled the report.
“I personally am very happy with how South Lakes is protecting our kids and I think it would help empower others to feel safe coming forward if they knew that South Lakes takes these issues seriously and can show that action was taken to prevent anything from happening,” said Ray Boatwright.
The school was under a lockdown in March after police received reports of a student with a gun. No weapon was found.
Consistent with national trends, black and Hispanic students are suspended at higher rates than their white peers in Reston schools.
Discipline disparities are especially prevalent at the high school and middle school level, according to federal data released by the U.S. Department of Education in late April.
In Fairfax County Public Schools, 40 percent of students are white, 25 percent are Hispanic, and 10 percent are black. But in-school and out-of-school suspensions are higher for black and Hispanic students. The dataset includes information for the 2015-2016 school year on more than 96,000 public schools.
Black students comprise 23 percent of total in-school suspensions and 26 percent of out-of-school suspensions. Similarly, Hispanic students comprise 41 percent of total in-school suspensions and 35 percent of total out-of-school suspensions.
White students, on the other hand, comprised 22 percent of in-school suspensions and 24 percent of out-school suspensions.
At South Lakes High School, black students are about twice as likely as white students to be suspended. They comprise just 13 percent of the total student population but account for nearly 35 percent of all in-school suspensions and nearly 37 percent of all out-of-school suspensions.
Disparities are evident among the Hispanic population at Herndon High School, where Hispanic students make up 39 percent of the total student population, but account for 64 percent of in-school suspensions and 54 percent of out-of-school suspensions.
In a statement to Reston Now, FCPS spokesman John Torre said the school system is concerned about the “disproportionality in school discipline, suspension, and expulsion rates between white children and children of color and is addressing those concerns by promoting and utilizing these alternative forms of discipline.”
At Herndon Middle School, Hispanic students, who make up 40 percent of the student population, accounted for 73 percent of in-school suspensions and 76 percent of out-of-school suspensions. White students made up 34 percent of the student population and accounted for 10 percent of in-school suspensions and 5 percent of out-of-school suspensions.
For black students, who make up 8 percent of the student population, disparities were not as evident. Black students accounted for 7 percent of in-school suspensions and just under 5 percent of out-of-school suspensions.
Major disparities were not as pervasive at Hughes Middle School, where 42 percent of students are white, 15 percent are black, and 26 percent are Hispanic.
White students comprised 8 percent of in-school suspensions and 14 percent of out-of of school suspensions. Black students comprised 27 percent of in-school suspensions and 28 percent of out-of-school suspensions. Suspensions for Hispanic students were in-line with their demographic makeup.
At the elementary school level, fewer overall suspensions were reported. Overall, racial disparities were also not as evident as they were in the middle and high school level.
Data in Fairfax County are in line with national trends. In 2015, 31 percent of students referred to police were black, even though they comprised 15 percent of the total school population. White students comprised about half of all students but only made up 36 percent of student police referrals.
Read FCPS’ entire response after the jump.
File photo via Karen Raffel
This coming Saturday, May 12, I will be sponsoring a Civic Engagement Fair at South Lakes High School from 9:00 a.m. to noon. It will be very similar to the event I sponsored last year that attracted several hundred people. About two dozen representatives of organizations who use volunteers to improve the quality of life in our community will be present to provide information and answer questions. These organizations include political, civic, and human services groups.
There will be no formal program; you visit the booths of the groups about which you hope to learn more and network with the representatives who themselves are mostly volunteers. Come anytime between nine and noon and spend as much time as you would like getting to know the organizations and their missions. Many of the organizations are active not only in our immediate community but in the region, state and national levels as well. The experience of last year was that most attendees found ways in which they wanted to become involved in the civic life of our community. The organizations were pleased as well because they signed up many volunteers.
There is no question that the direction of our national government spurred many people into action. My scheduling of another civic engagement fair this year came about because I continue to hear from individuals in the community that they want to do more to protect the rights and quality of life of all people in our area. Last year many people who showed up had never been engaged as a volunteer on political or civic or human rights issues but were determined to become involved. They left with more information on how to make their own decision on what they would do to help make a difference. The event is open to everyone regardless of political party affiliation and also to those who want to get involved without being engaged in partisan politics.
Satisfaction from being involved to the extent to which persons decide for themselves their involvement can lead to a high level of satisfaction. You can learn this from people you talk to at the Civic Engagement Fair or by talking to others who had previously decided to get more involved in the community. The experience will help to answer the nagging question of “what can I do?” About a quarter to a third of adults throughout the country are involved in some form of volunteer activity.
An article in Harvard Health suggests that many good health benefits come from helping others by volunteering. An article in Forbes last year concluded that “volunteering is the right thing to do for so many reasons: for your community, for your health, for your leadership development…In spite of the stress of life and the lack of time–or maybe because of it–get out there and volunteer. Do good, feel happier, build relationships, learn new skills and have an impact on something important to you.” Hope to see you on Saturday anytime between nine and noon. Look forward to our working together.
It’s not uncommon, to have the desire to give back to your local community, but no idea who needs help, or where to start.
This Saturday, local residents can stop by the Civic Engagement Fair at South Lakes High School in Reston to meet organizations face to face, and discover different ways to make a difference in the community.
Representatives from 25 different community and civic organizations will be on hand to meet locals interested in giving back through advocacy, volunteering and more.
The event is sponsored by Virginia Delegate Ken Plum, and will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at South Lakes High, 11400 South Lakes Dr.
The Fairfax County school district recently recognized South Lakes High School for their work in organizing a hair donation event benefiting cancer patients.
In partnership with well-known shampoo company Pantene, seniors Samantha Lowe and Sarah Wolfe along with teacher Rebecca Samba organized the “Beautiful Lengths” event, in which people with long hair could donate a portion of their locks to be made into free wigs for cancer patients.
Stylists from Maude Hair salon in Herndon and students from the Chantilly Cosmetology Academy donated their time to cut donors’ hair.
In all, 20 people–a mix of students, parents and teachers–donated more than eight inches of hair each during the event last week.
Photos courtesy of Fairfax County Public Schools
Try Reston’s Newest Restaurant For Free — Honeygrow has been named one of the healthiest fast-casual restaurants in America by Food Network – and now, Reston is home to one. For a limited time, Honeygrow’s owners are inviting locals to try a meal for free to get them acquainted with their ultra-fresh salads and stir-frys. Register online to enjoy a free lunch or dinner next week on May 10, as space is limited. The restaurant opens to the public on May 11. (Honeygrow)
Three Chances Left to See ‘Phantom’ — South Lakes High’s musical production of “Phantom” has three shows left this week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All shows start at 7 p.m, and the doors open at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students and senior citizens and $12 for adults. Purchase tickets online, or at the door as space permits. (South Lakes Theatre)
Calling All Artists, Entertainers and Food Vendors! — The 2018 Reston Multicultural Festival is scheduled to take place on Sept. 22. Reston Community Center is currently accepting applications for performers and vendors. This family-friendly festival welcomes live entertainers, artists, food vendors, community organizations who want to have informational booths, and more. Details are available online, along with a schedule of application deadlines. The festival will take place at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston. (Reston Community Center)
Networking Before Nine — The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce is reviving its bimonthly “Networking Before Nine” breakfast series, starting this week. Sponsored by Microsoft, this week’s event will take place on Thursday from 8-10 a.m. at the Microsoft Retail Store at Tysons Corner Center, 1961 Chain Bridge Road. Current and prospective members should bring plenty of business cards and be prepared to give a 30-second description of yourself and your business during introductions. A presentation on how M365 Business works will also be included. Register online. (Greater Reston Chamber)
You don’t want to use Metro, anyway — Sign up for the Bike To Work Day event closest to your place of business. [Reston Bike Club]
Some like it hot — According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this summer is going to be a scorcher. [Patch]
Bae (systems) wants to move — Aerospace company BAE Systems is reportedly looking to consolidate offices. They’ve currently got one office in Reston. [Washington Business Journal]
Spooked yet? — South Lakes High School will present a performance on “Phantom” today through May 5. Tickets are available online. [SLHS]
Flickr pool photo via vantagehill
Homeowners, prepare for a hit — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have sent forward a budget that includes increases in the county’s real estate tax rate. Most homeowners will pay an additional $241 annually. [WTOP]
Report card for Boston Properties — The real estate investment trust reported results for its first quarter, with a net income of $176 million, up from 97 million this time last year. [Business Wire]
South Lakes High School summer camp — Registration is now open for summer camps at the school, which offers programs for girls basketball, field hockey, football and volleyball. [SLHS]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
To the dismay of some area residents, a series of upgrades — including an amphitheater, fire pit and ping pong tables — are being considered for South Lakes Village Center (11120 South Lakes Drive).
But residents near the center and merchants worry the new space will become a magnet for youth from Langston Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School. The project would also increase noise — a concern that already rattles some residents as sound travels down the lake.
Reston Association’s Design Review Board deferred a decision on the project Tuesday night to allow the development team, which includes engineering firm Kimley-Horn, to revise the plan. The DRB could consider updated plans at its next meeting.
Mary Sapp, president of the Lakeport Cluster Association, said the project would increase noise levels, raise safety concerns due to unsupervised teens, and increase the chance of vandalism of the plaza’s “very attractive features.” Sapp said three of the cluster’s 11 bollard lights were destroyed, three were knocked over and two Safeway carts were thrown into the lake from the dock over the last 15 months.
“We assure you that Lakeport Cluster is not ‘anti-students’; a number of our residents have children (or grandchildren who visit often), and several are actively involved with South Lakes High School,” Sapp wrote in a statement to the DRB.
Charles Foster, a Lakeport Cluster resident, called the project an “unprecedented experiment in Reston” that would attract 3,400 young adults within walking distance, creating an environment that “ allows anyone at any time to engage in any type of activity.”
Upgrades include an amphitheater, new lighting, a chalkboard wall, outdoor ping pong, lounge and plaza seating area and outdoor ping pong. A new, back-lit sign is also proposed for the center.
Gil Blankespoor, a resident in the Lakeport Cluster, questioned how the property owner will maintain the upgraded site.
“We know Chevy Chase Land’s heart is in the right place. They did a fabulous job last year with the new landscaping, and their plan is to build community activities. But what they propose is in the wrong place — far too close to residential developments,” Blankespoor said.
The development team said they were open to removing the gaming features of the site, including ping pong tables, in order to allay community concerns. DRB members also suggested removing outdoor cushions, which could end up in the lake, and adding more shaded trees.
In response to concerns about attracting area teens, Michael Casey of Kimley-Horn said the plaza was open to “all generations” and should not exclude any demographic. By design, the commercial plaza is placed next to residential development, he said.
“This is what community is,” he said.
Given the “brutal reality” of the retail world, activating the space is necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the center, said Tom Regnell, president of Chevy Chase Land Company.
“We are interested in that very long-term view,” Regnell said.
Photos via handout
No rush for rush hour service — “Metro plans to stick with rush-hour service cuts implemented last summer for years to come, an update to the rail fleet plan to be presented to the Metro Board Thursday suggests.” [WTOP]
A life line — Coffee pod maker Keurig Green Mountain is partnering with Reston-based LifeFuels to increase sales of its high-tech, battery-operated water bottles. [WTOP]
In it for the ride — Young adults ages 10 and up with special needs get a tour of Frying Pan Farm Park Today, as well as a wagon ride and a chance for some social dancing. [Fairfax County Government]
In school sports — South Lakes High School JV Boys Soccer and Girls Soccer teams secured wins over Herndon High School yesterday. [South Lakes Athletics]
Photo by Jami Ojala
As the one year mark of the tragic slaying of Nabra Hassanen approaches, local students are coming together to remember the South Lakes High School student.
Hassanen, a Muslim, was killed near the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque in Sterling.
Family and loved ones will gather on Saturday (April 14) — what would have been Hassanen’s 18th birthday — to package “blessing bags” with items like water bottles, deodorant, food and shampoo. Bags will be distributed to the homeless in D.C., organizers said.
Police believe Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, followed a group of teens as they walked and biked back to the mosque at around 3:40 a.m. during Ramadan, the prescribed month of fasting for Muslims.
Torres later caught up with the group in a parking lot, according to police, and struck Hassanen with a baseball bat before abducting her in his car. He then allegedly assaulted Hassanen a second time before dumping her body in a pond next to his apartment complex.
Organizers hope to preserve Hassanen’s love for charity projects and her caring nature through the initiative.
Afnan Abdelmeguid, a 17-year-old West Springfield High School student and event organizer, said Hassanen was like a sister to her. After meeting Hassanen nearly a decade ago, Abdelmeguid recalls the pair quickly became close friends, spending yearly holidays together and taking part in an annual Islamic spring camp.
In her absence, Abdelmeguid wants to keep her giving nature alive. She also hopes it will help her and the local community heal as the one year anniversary of the high-profile case approaches and as Ramadan begins next month.
Other organizers include Abdelmeguid’s cousins, Shatha and Maysoon Ibrahim.
“She was very kind to everyone and was always smiling. She always cared about our problems and was always there to talk to you when you needed someone to talk to,” Abdelmeguid said.
Teens and young adults in Reston can attend the free job fair at South Lakes High School on April 21 to meet potential employers and get tips on building their resumes.
More than 40 potential employers have signed up to meet young job seekers at the event, according to Connection Newspapers, one of the sponsors of the job fair. Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, Reston Chamber of Commerce and Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity will also be sponsoring the event
The event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is aimed toward student job seekers between the ages of 16 and 18 who are looking for full-time employment, internships, after school employment, volunteer opportunities and seasonal work. Younger students may seek volunteer work and attend the resume building workshop.
I-66 slows traffic — Major construction for the toll project will create sluggish conditions, so all rides between Loudoun County Transit stops and the Wiehle-Reston East stations will be free. [WTOP]
R-E-S-P-E-C-T — Spencer Alston, a lacrosse player at South Lakes High School, received the 2018 Lou Peterson “Respect the Game” award. [The Connection]
Walk it off — Hundreds walked together at Walk MS Reston at Reston Town Center earlier this month. A total of $177,109 was raised in order to end multiple sclerosis. [The Connection]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
Reston Association Board of Directors meeting today — The board will vote on a move to build in stricter financial controls following a third-party review of RA’s controversial purchase of the Tetra property. The meeting will be streamed live on YouTube. [Reston Now]
Tolls could take a toll – Be prepared for hiccups in your commute. Upgrades to the tolling system on Dulles Toll Road could lead to detours and delays over the next six months. [WTOP]
Congrats to South Lakes High School athletes — Several local students are considered the D.C. area’s best winter sports athletes. Make Reston proud. [The Washington Post]
Metro resumes normal service today — Regular weekday service will resume today. County schools are closed and county government offices are open, with the option of unscheduled leave. [WMATA]
Reston Community Center programs are cancelled — All RCC programs and co-sponsored programs are cancelled today, although RCC facilities will open today. [RCC]
It’s cleanup time — Volunteers are needed for the annual Potomac River Watershed cleanup on April 14. Make an impact today. [Reston Association]
Photo by Twitter user @jgs3584