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NOVA Woodbridge students organize nationwide inNOVAtion hackathon

Students from various colleges and universities across the county gathered on the Woodbridge Campus of Northern Virginia Community College to participate in a hackathon event organized by five NOVA cybersecurity and information technology students. The event was held at the Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training (RCWET) on April 8-10. (more…)

Potomac View Elementary plants schoolyard garden

On Saturday, April 2, 2016 from 10 a.m. to noon, students, parents, teachers, and volunteers joined 3rd grade teacher Anna Houseworth to “break soil” in Potomac View Elementary School’s first Schoolyard Garden.

The hands-on project is grounded in the State Standards of Learning (SOLs), advised by Master Gardeners from the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), and supported by community volunteers. The project is funded by a grant from SPARK, the education foundation for Prince William County Public Schools.

The grant covered costs of wood for the two 3’ x 12’ frames, hardware, soil to fill the beds, hand tools for working the soil, two small tool sheds, and three rain barrels for collecting and distributing water.  All teachers at Potomac View will use Schoolyard Garden to implement the Prince William County Schools curriculum that follows the SOLs. Students have already participated in lessons that lead up to the garden planting activity and the weeks of tending it that follow.

The Potomac View Schoolyard Garden “is a wonderful example of how collaboration benefits student learning,” said Houseworth, who has taught at the school for 10 years. The support of local businesses that contribute to the SPARK foundation, Master Gardeners, community members, parents, educators, and Prince William County Schools have “created a space where Virginia Standards of Learning will come alive through hands-on experiences,” Houseworth said.

Neighborhood volunteers Jean and Gregg Reynolds drove implementation of the garden plans. They purchased materials, donated some supplies, designed and built the beds, filled them with a mix of topsoil and compost, and will fabricate the rain barrels. Asked about their dedication to this project, Gregg stated that, “Our children attended Potomac View back in the 80’s and next year we will have a grandchild there. It is so exciting to know that she and all her classmates will have this garden experience.”

Fifteen 4th and 5th graders — along with their teachers, parents, and one grandpa — planted broccoli and cauliflower seedlings, and a variety of seeds including lettuce, beets, squash, Easter egg radishes, and even flowers chosen to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

The Potomac View Schoolyard Garden provides students with the opportunity to practice authentic inquiry-based learning, decision-making and problem-solving skills with their peers and teachers. “The students couldn’t wait to dig into the dirt,” said Houseworth and they will “be able to leave something behind that they helped create. They will remember these experiences for a lifetime.”

The educational and interest value of the garden was proven even before it was officially open. When Jean and Gregg were making final preparation of the soil, the school resource teacher brought about 10 younger students to see the garden. “The kids had questions,” Jean said, “and got to hold brown dirt, then crumble chunks of compost. They were very excited about the earthworms, so we had a mini class right on the spot!”

2 main reasons to workout with a trainer at Manassas Park Community Center

With the temperatures warming up outside, it’s natural to feel the urge to get up, get out, and get active.

There is still plenty of time to reach your fitness goals before beach season hits, but as we get closer and closer to summer, you may find it difficult to stay on task and stay motivated. That’s where personal training can come in handy.

To help you reach your fitness goals, the Manassas Park Community Center will give you an additional 10 free 30-minute personal training sessions when you renew or purchase an annual Basic or All-Access Passport membership throughout the month of April.

If you’re like me though, you may not exactly understand what personal training is or how it can benefit you. I sat down with our Deputy Director, Jay Swisher, who has worked as personal trainer and oversees our personal trainers here at the community center and asked him some questions I had about personal training.

Shriner: So, what exactly is a personal trainer?

Swisher: A personal trainer is someone who provides not only guidance in the technical sense but also moral support to someone in an effort to help them reach their fitness goals.

Shriner: I’m fully capable of going to the gym and working out or running on the treadmill. What is the advantage of using a personal trainer versus just going to the gym on my own?

Swisher: There are two main reasons to work out with a trainer:

First, you’re working with somebody who is specifically trained in an exercise science based discipline. That specialized knowledge will allow them to prescribe the most effective program to help you fulfill your fitness goals. Exercise prescription includes everything about your workout routine – the recommended exercises, repetitions, sets, weights, frequency, and so on. This knowledge is derived from different places including past experience or background, which can include education and formal training.

Second, you’re gaining a support system. A trainer will motivate you and hold you accountable. Sure, you can go online and download sheets of exercises or watch YouTube videos but those videos aren’t going to text you to make sure you’re keeping up with your routine or encourage you to keep going when you feel like you’ve plateaued. In addition, your trainer will be able to monitor your form by demonstrating how to properly perform exercises. You can put yourself at risk by performing exercises incorrectly, but also incorrect form means you aren’t achieving your maximum potential and getting the most from each exercise.

Shriner: Okay, so I’m convinced. What do I need to look for in a personal trainer? How can I make sure I’m picking a good trainer?

Swisher: The first thing you want to do when you’re considering using a trainer, or even when you want to work out on your own, is figure out what your fitness goals are. Search for a trainer whose skill set best matches your needs. If you have very specific fitness goals, you’d want to seek out a personal trainer who has expertise in that same area.

It’s important to vet your trainer to make sure they are truly qualified. Check their background, ask about their experience and certifications. When it comes to certifications, check for reputable agencies such as AAFA, ACE, or ACSM. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a mini session. Tell them about yourself. Say you’re a 44-year-old male with high blood pressure who has been sedentary for the past 15 years and one of your goals is to lose 10 pounds. Listen to what the trainer would recommend and see what they demonstrate. How do you feel about their training style? Ask them about their fitness philosophies – do they make sense to you? What it boils down to is you need to ask questions, listen to the answers, and observe their style. (more…)

Live Well Festival to feature health and wellness activities, farm to table brunch

Spring has sprung and it’s time for the year’s first festival in historic downtown Manassas! The 10th Annual Live Well Festival, formerly known as Spring Cleaning Day, will be held Saturday, April 16 from 9 a.m. – 2 .p.m in the Harris Pavilion and along West Street. Health and wellness information, exercise classes, a farm-to-table brunch, and more will be available. (more…)

Free 2016 Spring Veterans Resource and job fair

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY —  Michael Futrell  in partnership with Councilman Derrick Wood, Women Veterans Interactive, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Center for Minority Veterans and will host a free 2016 Spring Veterans Resource & Job Fair.

“We should be doing all we can to support our veterans and active duty military personnel,” said Hon. Michael Futrell. “I am pleased to be a partner in bringing this much needed resource and jobs fair to Prince William County. I also look forward to honoring Dr. Hampton and all that he has embodied since making the transition from protecting our country to impacting our community.”

The fair will provide a number of veteran-related services in a one-stop setting.  Onsite will be Department of Veterans Affairs’ representatives from the Center for Minority Veterans, the Veterans Health and Benefits Administrations, and the National Cemetery Administration. 

Other invited organizations will provide information related to GI Bill education assistance, finding jobs, completing wills, preventing homelessness and how to participate in the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.  Veterans are encouraged to bring DD214 or proof of military service for the opportunity to file claims on location.  Lunch will be provided at no charge to veterans and active duty military personnel in attendance. 

Dr. George Hampton will be honored for his work as a veteran in the community at the event.

Who: Hon. Michael Futrell, Councilman Derrick Wood, Delegate Rich Anderson, Department of Veterans Affairs, Center for Minority Veterans, Women Veterans Interactive, and Stratford University.
 
What: Veterans Resource & Job Fair
 
When: Saturday, April 9th, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
 
Where:  Stratford University:  Woodbridge Campus 14349 Gideon Dr. Woodbridge, VA  22192 
 
Members of the media are welcomed and invited to attend.

What does it take to buy a Habitat For Humanity home?

A Habitat for Humanity Home Dedication touches the hearts of the family who will own the home, the volunteers who worked to build or rehab the home and the donors who made it possible through their generous gifts. 

Manassas Farmers Market has more vendors, ‘Take-Out Tuesdays’

The City of Manassas Farmer’s Market is back for its 25th peak season. Running from April through early November, the market is open on both Thursdays and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Thursday market will be housed at the Harris Pavilion beginning April 7, while Saturday shoppers can find all their market necessities in Parking Lot B, across from the Train Depot beginning April 9. (more…)

Who is Gar-Field Senior High School named after?

Gar-Field High School, located on Smoketown Road, was originally established near Cardinal Drive and Route 1 on land donated in 1949 by Martin Gilmer Garber and Grover P. Manderfield. (more…)

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