Get ready for spring break — Limited space is available for Reston Association’s Spring Break Camp. Sign up today. [Reston Association]
In local student-athlete news — South Lakes High School student Hannah Waller capped her first high school indoor track season by finishing fifth at the New Balance Nationals Track and Field Meet.
Another reminder about Metro delays — Expect Metro delays on the Silver Line today. Workers are busy repairing a crack in concrete under rails between Benning Road and Capitol Heights stations. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Photo by Ruth Sievers
(This story was updated at 12:45 p.m. with an official count of the participants).
Roughly 800 South Lakes High School students joined their peers from all over the country for a scheduled 17-minute National School Walkout to End Gun Violence at 10 a.m. today (March 14).
Chanting phrases like “Enough is enough,” “We want change,” and “No more silence, end gun violence,” students gathered in the school’s football stadium for the rally. SLHS student Dora Ahearn-wood repeated the names of the 17 victims in the Parkland shooting in a call-and-response pattern.
A moment of silence followed.
The impetus behind the rally was especially real following a lockdown at SLHS and two other Reston public schools on Friday. Local police determined a report about a student with a gun was false.
“The lockdown was a false alarm and everyone was safe. But we should not have to live in a place where we have to see our friends texting and calling their family, terrified for their lives. We should not have to go to school and experience a lockdown because the presence of an active-shooter on campus is a real possibility. We should not have to live in a country where teenagers can have access to weapons of war,” said SLHS student Sophia Liao.
Others like Zach Schonfeld encouraged students to join survivors of the Parkland shooting in the District for the March for Our Lives. Schonfeld also encouraged students to take their grievances to the ballot box by registering to vote, volunteering for a campaign, call Congressional representatives to push for gun control and raise their voices to declare “enough is enough.”
“Whatever you do, don’t sit out on the sidelines and merely add Parkland to the tragic list that has senselessly killed so many. Next time, it could be us,” he said.
Walkout participants were marked for “cutting class” during the walkout, which fell during the third period class, according to SLHS principal Kim Retzer.
“Like any other school day, our teachers will prepare various learning activities to engage students and we expect our students to participate in their learning process. Should students leave class, teachers will continue with their instruction to all students who remain in the classroom,” Retzer wrote in a statement.
Students at other area schools like Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston and Floris Elementary School in Herndon also participated in similar walkouts.
Footage by ABC News linked below mistakenly indicated SLHS students walked off of school grounds. The footage is not from SLHS.
Students at South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia walk out of their classrooms to protest for stricter gun laws as part of #NationalWalkoutDay. https://t.co/Yf340llQUp pic.twitter.com/gqMc7ZcaQz
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 14, 2018
Woman arrested for intent to distribute narcotics — Police found marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, and THC wax during a search of the woman’s car. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Local walkouts at schools planned today — Students at Langston Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School plan to leave class around 10 a.m. today to call for gun control legislation. Participants at SLHS will be marked for cutting class. [South Lakes High School]
Kindness rocks, coming to a place near you — Students at Aldrin Elementary School are spreading rocks they’ve designed throughout Reston. Keep an eye out for special handmade treasures. [Aldrin Elementary School]
A meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Advanced students at South Lakes High School met briefly with Netanyahu during a visit to Capitol Hill. [Fairfax County Public Schools]
If you’re concerned about issues in Reston — The Reston Citizens Association, a civic, non-profit organization, is still looking for volunteers for various committees. [Reston Citizens Association]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill.
Pushed by the mass shooting at Florida high school this year, students at South Lakes High School will stage a walkout on Wednesday at 10 a.m., joining more than 2,200 schools nationwide as part of the #Enough National School Walkout to End Gun Violence.
For organizers, the need for the walkout – the second at the high school following the Florida shooting – came to life on Friday when three Reston schools were under a lockdown after students reported they saw another student with a gun. Police determined the report was false.
Students like Sophia Liao, Zachary Schonfeld and Dora Ahearn-Wood said they want legislators to go beyond tweeting thoughts and prayers by passing legislation to prevent gun violence.
“We should feel safe in our schools, and not have to worry if we are next. Just last Friday, we got lucky. The lockdown was quickly found to be a false alarm through the diligent work of school administration and police. But we should not have to live in a place where we have to see our friends texting and calling their families, terrified for their lives. This is not normal, and it needs to change,” Liao said.
The walkout will be the second for South Lakes High School students. Last month, more than 200 students stepped out of class in the middle of the day to remember victims of the Parkland shooting.
On Wednesday, students plan to stand outside for 17 minutes to honor each victim of the shooting. The walkout will also include remarks and chants from student organizers, according to a release by the South Lakes Young Democrats club.
Although the club is organizing the walkout, organizers said participants are from varying political backgrounds and the walkout is a school-wide initiative. Students also plan to initiate a “call to action” by encouraging participants to vote, call their elected representatives and become involved in political discourse.
“We might not all be experts on gun policy, but we do know that the current status quo is not working,” organizers said.
A lockdown at South Lakes High School, Terraset Elementary School and Langston Hughes Middle School around 12:40 p.m.was lifted earlier today, according to a Fairfax County Public Schools spokeswoman.
Local police receive a report that a student with a gun was at South Lakes High School this afternoon. Police said the report was false and lifted the lockdown around 1:13 p.m.
School officials said the situation was resolved in a peaceful and quick manner.
Hughes Middle School’s lockdown, which went into effect around 1 p.m., was lifted at 1:12 p.m. All classes resumed as normal by 1:25 p.m., according to the school’s principal, Aimee Monticchio.
“Staff and students did a great job responding to a very delicate situation,” Monticchio said.
Some parents said the school system did not inform parents and guardians of the lockdown quickly enough.
Parents at South Lakes High School, where the lockdown occurred for 27 minutes, received an email about the three lockdowns at 1:21 p.m.
Here’s more information from social media:
South Lakes HS, Terraset ES, and Hughes MS were placed into lockdown a short while ago while police investigate a potential threat. Police are at the school currently. All students are safe. We will provide additional information as soon as we can.
— Fairfax Schools (@fcpsnews) March 9, 2018
Lockdown started at 12:40….why so long for an update. Very scary for all involved.
— Molly S (@Mcircles) March 9, 2018
My daughter said they ended the lockdown but then restarted it.
— Heather Newlin (@newlin_heather) March 9, 2018
South Lakes High School lockdown has ended after 27 mins.
— Farrah G. (@Fxdisi) March 9, 2018
This story has been updated.
South Lakes High School is emphasizing its security and protest policies after a Florida high school shooting left 17 students and faculty dead.
Kim Retzer, the school’s principal, said the last several days have been “intense as the conversations and actions around school violence have taken place.” Last week, more than 350 students walked out of the school and stood outside midday for 17 minutes.
In response to mixed reactions about the walkout, Retzer said that Fairfax County Public Schools respect students’ rights to engage in peaceful protest and express their opinions, so long as the form of expression is “done respectfully, does not interfere with the rights of others, and does not disrupt learning in the school.”
“Students participating in marches or walkouts are expected to participate in class and to respond to administrative questions and directives in the same way as all other students,” she added.
School policies also encourage teachers to remain in class with students who do not participate in walkouts. Staff can participate during “non-work time,” she said.
The school regularly assesses its safety protocols, staff indicated. Retzer described Dave Bonner, a school resource officer stationed at SLHS as “pro-active” and “experienced.” Bonner routinely collaborates with the resource officer at the adjacent Hughes Middle School.
The school installed interior and exterior video surveillance several years ago and is in the process of upgrading older equipment.
Retzer expressed support for the feedback and support received by the school in the past week.
“I know I have hugged my child a little tighter in recent days,” she said.
Growing pains — Proposals to increase population density have been met by fierce community opposition. A Burke resident fires back, arguing that Reston’s development isn’t finished yet. [Greater Greater Washington]
Forging a new fellowship — Lake Anne Fellowship House could soon be transformed into a new 240-unit apartment building for seniors in need of affordable housing. Plans, which also include 74 townhouses, will go before the Design Review Board on March 19. [Reston Association]
Second phase of Loudoun Station begins — Reston-based Comstock is set to begin the $75 million development project as Metro service inches closer. [Washington Business Journal]
Wins in the first regional champion for girls indoor track — With dominating performances in the sprints and relays, the South Lakes High School girls’ team won the 6A North Region D indoor track and field championship in mid-February. [SLHS]
Photo by Ruth Sievers
Last week, four South Lakes High School student-athletes formalized their commitments with Division I colleges.
Bardia Kimiavi, a varsity starter throughout his high school career and a three-time captain, will play soccer at Northwestern University. He was named a two-time Virginia State Cup Champion and U.S. Youth Soccer National Champion.
Fellow classmate Kahlil Dover, who we wrote about earlier this month, signed to play soccer for Virginia Tech.
Spencer Alston, a four-year varsity starter on the school’s football and lacrosse teams, will play football for Yale University. He is a member of the school’s Executive Leadership Council and was selected to attend the 2017 Virginia Boys State Conference at Radford University. He has received individual honors, including conference offensive player of the year and regional offensive player of the year.
Meanwhile, Evan Matthes, a diver and an Eagle Scout, committed to play football for West Virginia University. He received awards like first team all-district punter, first team all-region punter and the player of the year at SLHS last year.
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
NII Holdings hangs on — The Reston-based company is trading above the minimum share price to retain its place on the NASDAQ. But it hasn’t fully steered clear of financial trouble yet. [Washington Business Journal]
Hunting down traffic — For years, county officials have mulled plans to tackle backups on Hunter Mill Road near the Dulles Toll Road. A county commission is set to vote on a new solution tonight. [Fairfax County Government]
A shoutout to Ms. Anne — In honor of Crossing Guard Appreciation Day, the employee at Lake Anne Elementary School was selected as one of the top six crossing guards in the state. [Lake Anne Elementary School]
Honoring young artists — The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers selected 14 students from South Lakes High School for the annual Scholastic Art Awards, one of the most prestigious scholarships for creative teens. [The Connection]
Photo by Fatimah Waseem
Reston Association Seeks Members for Design Review Board – Land planners, landscape architects and architects are eligible for three volunteer positions on the board. Members are appointed by RA’s Board of Directors. The application deadline is Feb. 28. [Reston Today]
South Lakes High School’s Addition Officials Opens — The school’s 40,000-square-foot addition opened for classes on Tuesday. Crews will remain on-site for several weeks to work on punch-list items and finish exterior work. [SLHS]
Red Kimono Opens in downtown Herndon — The restaurant, which offers authentic Japanese & Korean food, opened on Jan. 27. It is the only business of its kind in the town and has one of the best head sushi chefs in the area, according to a recent article. [The Connection]
Reston Camp Expo Draws Nearly 500 People – The Jan. 27 expo hosted by Reston Community Center featured “hundreds of out-of-school activities and summer camp programs.” [The Connection]
Photo by Fatimah Waseem
Reston Community Center is welcoming one of its own to head the aquatics department.
Matthew McCall, a 41-year-old South Lakes High School graduate, takes over the role of Joe Leary, who retired last year after working for RCC for 27 years.
“I was amazed at how much Reston has grown over the years but excited to learn that the same principles and values of inclusion and caring are still so evident here,” said McCall.
McCall graduated from SLHS in 1995 and competed for the school’s swim team. His first aquatics job was as a lifeguard for Reston Association.
He swam collegiately at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky and received a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia Commonwealth University. He previously held aquatics leadership positions in Orlando with Walt Disney Company and St. Peters Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Missouri.
At the center, he was the recreation leader for aquatics in a center with a 50-meter indoor pool and a diving facility that hosted the 2004 U.S. Olympic Diving Trials.
McCall said he hopes to encourage more people to swim through his position. “Our goal is to give every child in Reston that skill,” he said.
In a statement, RCC executive director Leila Gordon lauded McCall’s “incredible enthusiasm.”
“I am sure his expertise is going to lend itself to future success in the renovated Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center,” she said.
Photo via Reston Community Center
South Lakes High School Indoor Track Team Earns Third Place — At The Freedom Games in New York, the school’s indoor track team had seven state qualifying performances. Sophomore Hannah Waller won the 300 meters and anchored the winning 4×200 relay team with recording breaking performances. More than 4,000 athletes from 130 schools competed in the meet. [SLHS via Twitter]
Fairfax Coin Club Delves into The Secrets of Coin Conservation — The group will meet at 7 p.m. in Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) for a discussion on how to best conserve coins. [Fairfax Coin Club via Twitter]
Curator’s Talk at Greater Reston Arts Center on Saturday — Lily Seigel, executive director of GRACE, will discuss the exhibition of Paulina Peavy by examining the artist’s life and relationship to the art of her time on Saturday at 3 p.m. The talk is free and open to the public. Peavy’s work is on display at the center through Feb. 18. [GRACE]
Photo via Milestat
Terraset Elementary School students visited a leadership class at South Lakes High School to take part in leadership and teamwork activities. Students in fifth and sixth grade made snack bags for children at the Embry Rucker shelter and held a newspaper fashion show. According to a statement by the Fairfax County Public Schools System, the Terraset students were selected for their leadership potential and the high school students planned and led the workshop.
South Lakes High School Collaborates with Lake Anne Service Center — The high school’s Parent Teacher Student Association has partnered with the center on 11410 North Shore Drive. For every gallon of gas pumped, the service center will donate $0.005 to the PTSA. Customers should save their receipt and drop it off at the school’s main office. [South Lakes High School PTSA]
Donate New or Gentled Used Coats and Winter Clothes Through Jan 31. — The office of Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is collected new or gently used men’s, women’s and children’s coats, hats, gloves, scarves and mittens at the office on 1801 Cameron Glen Drive. Items can be donated in a 24-hour drop off box or during operating hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 – 7 p.m. [Cornerstones]
Tour de Lights Holiday Bike Road on Saturday — Reston’s Multimodal Transportation Committee will take a bike tour around north Reston to experience the holidays lights on Saturday from 5 – 7 p.m. Participants must be able to keep a pace of around 10 miles per hour over a 1.5-hour drive. [Reston Association]