WE ARE LOCAL News in Prince William, Virginia




Forest Park Wins AAA State Championship

Submitted News

Forest Park Cross Country and Track

We started our weekend with a quote (which I altered a bit) from Mark Twain as inspiration to help carry ourselves with confidence. The confidence, determination, and the hard work over the last few months really showed up in the end.

The biggest highlight of the day was the 4*2. Our Boys lowered their number one national time on the flat track, broke the state record by nearly two seconds, and will be going for the national record in two weeks at the national championships.

Ricky Morgan had one of the toughest triples of the day running the 4*2, 500, and 300. He did not disappoint, despite getting sick before the start of his 1st race, Ricky helped get us get a big lead in the 4*2, he followed that up with a 3rd place finish in the 500, and another all state finish in the 300.

Josh Washington led off the 4*2 and handed off the baton in a neck and neck tie for 1st place. He then came back in the 300 to finish 4th and his score really helped put some distance between us and the other teams in the point standings.

Mustaqeem Williams placed in five events and nearly brought home four titles himself. In the triple jump he went for it on his last jump and he lept 49-1 putting him in 1st in the meet and 6th nationally. One more jumper went and lept 49-7 forcing us to settle for second.

The Long Jump was a little more controversial in that Mustaqeem had the best jump going into the final and reserved the right as the best jumper to jump last after the 4*2. However upon returning to the pit the head official closed it not allowing Mustaqeem or 4 others to get in their last jumps. Despite our protest we were told the results were final and Mustaqeem ended up 2nd by a 1/2 inch.

We decided to move on because the team title was our focus! In the 55 he had a horrid start, which in that event can be disastrous, but his speed is simply unmatched in the short sprints in Virginia as he turned on another gear midway through the race to taking the lead at the line and bringing home the 55 meter title for the second year in a row. Mustaqeem wrapped up his day by gutting out a 3rd place finish in the 300. All in all Mustaqeem finished with two golds (55, 4*2), two silvers (TJ,LJ), and one Bronze (300).

Calvin Michie ran a strong relay leg to help keep the lead and break the national record.

Ebenezer Agyemong lept to a personnel Indoor best of 6-1 in the High Jump.

Finally Andrew Gaiser put the icing on the cake by scoring in the two mile. Despite being sick he dropped five seconds off his time and earned his second all state honor and first on the track.

The girls had a pretty solid day as Yaa Agyepong Wiafe lowered her own school record and finished all state in the hurdles. Allyson Bodmer just missed an all state finish in the mile dropping 4 seconds of her indoor personnel best.

Lastly, Hannah Zachman dropped another amazing 20 seconds off of her two mile. In the last two weeks she has dropped 40 seconds off of her two mile time.

It was wonderful to see so many Bruin parents and supporters there among the thousands watching the meet. In the end seeing our Bruin Team hoist that state champion trophy was pretty special.

By the numbers
1 state record
2 state individual titles
2 state runner up finishes
11 All state Finishes
And the biggest prize of all
Virginia AAA State Team Champions

Manassas School Budget Presentation Set for Tuesday; Will Detail Plans for Schools’ Growth

Manassas Public Schools Superintendent

There’s been a buzz going around the city about the schools’ and city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and the MCPS budget process. As I thought about my column this month, I was reminded of something I mentioned in my first message to the community, “no school system thrives without community support.” This truth has become more evident with each passing day of the budget process.

The MCPS and city staff recently completed a lengthy process to create a five-year CIP for the division and city infrastructure improvements. We are now seeking public support to finance the much needed improvements to our school and city infrastructure. The community’s financial support will also help attract businesses and homeowners which, in turn, impact the city’s economic development and real estate values. 

The fact that the City of Manassas has the lowest tax rate in the Northern Virginia region opens the door for the community to lend its support for the schools and city’s CIP. Although our primary purpose is to serve more than 7,200 children everyday, we cannot overlook the division’s infrastructure that supports them.

Practical things like HVAC, paving, tracks, security cameras, roofs, and painting are important for preserving what we currently have. A new Baldwin with the addition of a school within a school, and in the future years, a new or renovated Dean Elementary are also components of the CIP to prepare us for our projected future growth.

Instead of following a path based on what we have always done, MCPS is going through a zero-based budgeting process. Many times, businesses and governments start with the current year budget and go from there, preserving what already exists. With zero-based budgeting, you start with nothing and justify every allotment, program, and service to determine need and value. For MCPS it’s an important exercise that provides accountability for spending and ensures that revenue is focused on students’ needs.

I have been asked by many members of the community to address our cost per pupil which is $1,000 higher than neighboring Manassas Park and Prince William, but lower than the average in Northern Virginia. The staffing allotment and zero-based budget process are being used to determine how to best utilize our resources to increase student achievement and to answer the cost per pupil question in the community.

In December, principals were provided with their staffing allocations based on current MCPS class size structure. During this process, 111 positions were identified as being above what the state funds. Principals were asked to work with their staffs to develop their instructional plans and identify the instructional needs for their schools for next school year. I understand how at first glance a change of 111 positions in preliminary allocations can be unsettling and misunderstood; however, they were not identified as positions to be cut, but positions to substantiate in our budgeting process. I remain sensitive to the feelings and concerns to what this preliminary allocation number means as we move forward. I want to assure our parents, students, staff, and community that class sizes have not increased and that our students remain at the center of all our decisions. I do accept that budgets can be contentious and unnerving, but I must also make sure that our students not only have the best and brightest teachers, but the resources, experiences, and technology that will provide them prosperous futures.

As we seek staff and community input during the budget process, I understand that each person looks at spending priorities through their own lens. Teachers and taxpayers have different perspectives as do guidance counselors, the State Department of Education and parents of children with special needs. We need parents, elected officials, business leaders, and the community supporting the hard-working staff at MCPS to make our schools safe, efficient, and high achieving.

As we go through the process, we will continue to work together to develop a fiscally responsible budget that allocates our limited resources in a manner that supports student achievement and our strategic goals and priorities. I will present the proposed budget to the School Board at their regular business meeting on February 26, 2013 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. I welcome you all to attend and appreciate your support.

Public Input on the budget is scheduled for March 12, 2013. Click here for our current budget development calendar: FY 14 Budget Calendar

NOVA to Hold Work Training Sessions

Northern Virginia Community College will hold two free informational sessions to showcase job training programs for the employed and unemployed.

More in a press release from the college:

Northern Virginia Community College is hosting two events to provide information about dozens of affordable career training programs offered by NOVA and community organizations.

Both employed and unemployed people will benefit from the free events that will showcase job training programs that can help people become more marketable.

SkillSource, Virginia Employment Commission, Northern Virginia Family Service’s Training Futures, Multivision and Year Up are among the organizations that will participate.

“In one place, people can get information about training opportunities in such high-demand fields as engineering, science, biotechnology, information technology, healthcare and much more,” said Project Manager Jennifer Pocai. “Attendees will also learn about financial aid, scholarships, adult counseling services, weekend programs, ESL courses and job seeker assistance.”

The event will be held 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 9 at NOVA’s Innovation Park Center (9485 Innovation Drive,Manassas) and repeated 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14 at NOVA’s Annandale Campus (8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale).

More information is available at nvcc.edu/acp/openhouse or 703-425-5245.

Torian Supports Governor on School Safety Audits

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – In a show of bipartisanship, Delegate Luke Torian, D-Prince William, says he supports improvements to school safety in Virginia following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

More in a press release from Torian:

Today, Delegate Luke E. Torian, D-Prince William announced his support for Governor Bob McDonnell’s legislative package assembled as a result of the Taskforce on School and Campus Safety.

Key legislation from the Taskforce includes a mandate to develop a critical incident response plan, to implement school safety audits, to increase cooperation between schools, local law enforcement and emergency medical units; and new criminal offenses for attempting to enter a school with the intent to commit a violent felony. Having co-patroned the legislative package, Delegate Torian issued the following statement:

“I want to commend Governor McDonnell for assembling a Taskforce on School and Campus Safety. We cannot do enough to protect our schools. I have supported efforts in the past to build on legislation that was

passed in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting and I am pleased to see my colleagues being proactive in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. I am also honored as well to serve as a co-patron on the Governor’s introduced legislation.”

Delegate Torian represents Dumfries, Occoquan, Dale City, and Woodbridge in House District 52. This is his second term in the House of Delegates.

Torian’s announcement comes after Dumfries voted to hire and post a full-time police school resource officer for Dumfries Elementary School. It will be the first and only elementary school in Prince William County with an school resource officer, called an SRO.

Metz Middle School Competes in Robotics Challenge

Submitted News 

MANASSAS, Va. — Robotics team members from Metz Middle School competed in the Central Division VEX Qualifier at Manassas Park Middle School on Saturday, Feb. 9.

With a focus on building the most innovative robots possible, the team’s six robots competed against a total of 40 robots hoping to earn spots to Roboticon at Forest Park High School on March 9 and the VEX World Championship in Anaheim, Calif., in April. Metz’s robot 5173S ended the qualifying round in 9th place, while robot 5173Z ended in 15th place.

A total of four of Metz’s robots were selected to compete in the tournament round. In what appeared to be a scene from a futuristic motion picture, Robot 5173S selected 5173Z to compete as an alliance during the tournament, winning their best two out of three matches during the round of 16 and quarterfinals before ultimately falling short in the semifinals.

Both robots earned spots in next month’s Roboticon at Forest Park. Roboticon will feature the top 60 robots from public and private middle schools in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Additional spots will be awarded to the VEX World Championship in Anaheim during this competition.

The Metz Robotics team is coached by Metz teacher math teacher, Leonard Newman.

Potomac Middle School Celebrates Excellence


WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Potomac Middle School and its panthers has done something it has never done before: achieve a ranking of School of Excellence in Prince William County.

The six-year-old school is home to 1,100 students and sits on Panther Pride Drive in Woodbridge, where two other schools – Potomac High and Mary Williams Elementary schools – all share the panther mascot.

But it is the students and staff at Potomac Middle who are celebrating a scholastic achievement of excellence, one they want to share with parents and the community.

“I can’t take credit because I wasn’t here last year, but based on last year’s data I truly attribute the success of past leadership of past teachers, students, and success of those who were here last year. My goal is to keep it going,” said school Principal Alfie Turner, who made the transition from elementary to middle school principal in June.

Every school in Prince William County is measured in the “School of Excellence” program sponsored by the county School Board. Criteria such as full school accreditation, parent and student satisfaction, and scholastic improvements are all measured on a scale of 100 points. Those who achieve 90 or above achieve School of Excellence.

This past year, students at Potomac Middle improved significantly in reading and language arts. It’s an achievement that especially been celebrated by the men and women who came to open this school in Sept. 2006.

“The emotion on the faces of the staff members, especially the inaugural staff – the group that’s been here from the time the school opened – we had teachers stepping out and saying ‘praise the lord,’ and you can see that sense of pride wanting to continue,” said Turner.

Something else Turner hopes will continue: parents who want to remain involved in their child’s education. Coming from an elementary school where more parents “are a little more connected” to their parent-teacher associations, Turner said parents are always welcome to sit in classrooms here, and many have also taken an active roll in volunteering and recognizing the hard work of teachers each month.

A total of 40 elementary and middle schools in Prince William County achieved the School of Excellence rating for the 2012-13 school year. Individual celebrations to honor these achievements at each respective school began last month.

Sentara Offering $1,000 Scholarships to High School Seniors

Submitted News 

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Auxiliary is offering $1,000 scholarships to area high school seniors who plan to pursue careers in a healthcare or medical related field.

Only those students attending one of the six public high schools, private high schools or home-schooled students in the eastern Prince William County area, and current Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Junior Volunteers, will be eligible to apply for the Auxiliary Scholarship.

The six public high schools are: C.D. Hylton; Forest Park; Freedom; Gar-Field; Potomac and Woodbridge. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 15, 2013.

For scholarship rules and to download an application, visit sentara.com/NorthernVirginia.

Computers Donated to PACE West

Submitted News

GAINESVILLE, Va. — Earlier this week, local Gainesville business, QBE, and the Rotary Foundation of Gainesville/Haymarket donated 15 laptop computers to PACE West School in Haymarket.

In response to this donation, Supervisor Candland issued the following statement:

“This gift from QBE and the Rotary Foundation are the epitome of generosity and community service. QBE has made an investment in our community by committing to purchase the former PACE West building and creating local jobs, and they have again shown their commitment to Prince William County by partnering with the Rotary Foundation to donate laptops for the IT lab at the new PACE West,” said Prince William Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland. “These computers will go a long way toward training and educating the next generation that will face a job market that increasingly depends on robust computer skills. I can’t thank QBE and the Rotary Foundation enough for their generosity and service to the Western Prince William County community.”


Proposed School Budget Includes Teacher Raises, Building Renovation, No Cash for Reduced Class Sizes

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. —Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent Steven Walts proposed a budget to the School Board Tuesday night that included funding of existing programs, a 2 percent raise for staff member and funding for new construction; however, it did not include any funding to reduce current class sizes. Bristow Beat has more. 

Dumfries Moves Ahead with Elementary School Police Officer Plan


DUMFRIES, Va. — Dumfries Elementary will become the first primary school in Prince William County with a full-time police school resource officer.

Move comes as a mixed Town Council Tuesday night approved a motion to hire a new police officer who will be trained and posted at the school that has just over 500 students. The push to hire and implement the new officer into the town’s $4 million budget was made by Councilwoman Kristen Forrester following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December that left 20 children and six adults dead.

Dumfries Town Manager Daniel Taber will report back to the Council on March 19 to update officials on the hiring process and implementation of the new officer. It’s not clear how much will be required to fund the new position, and the new SRO will be in addition to a vacant police officer job on the town’s force that has went unfilled for months. Currently, Dumfries has 10 police officers but not all have been working full shifts due to personal reasons.

Currently in Prince William County, SROs are stationed at all 11 high schools and four officers are rotated among 16 middle schools.

Those who opposed the measure, including Mayor Jerry Foreman, Councilman Charles Brewer, and Councilwoman Gwen Washington who works at the elementary school during the day, urged town officials prior to the vote to instead open more dialogue with officials in Prince William County’s schools and police departments, as well as speak with Prince William Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan on the matter.

Prince William Public Schools spokeswoman Irene Cromer was unable to comment on the situation Wednesday, and many school staffers appeared to be surprised by the move.

“Dumfries Elementary is in the Town of Dumfries but the school belongs to Prince William County,” said Washington prior to the vote to approve the measure. “There are a few things we still need to discuss with the School Board, and we need to talk to the principal of the school to find out if this fits into their overall plan.”

All who spoke against immediatley funding the SRO position said they are in favor of keeping young children safe inside the classroom, but said more time is needed to formulate a solid plan.

“Why is this even being put to a vote tonight?” asked Brewer. “We have no input from the county, no formal input from our police chief …this is like putting the cart before the horse here.”

Forrester said she favored moving full steam ahead with the plan and urged officials to commit to implementing the SRO position and work through the finite details later in the year.

Taking into account training for the new officer, Foreman said it could be the start of the new school year in September when the SRO is in place.

GED Exam Aces Will Qualify for Free GED Testing

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Missing a high school diploma and want to change that? Prince William County Public Schools will administer a practice test to see if you’re ready to take GED classes.

More in a press release from the school division:

Adults who find their career goals limited by the lack of a high school diploma should consider pursuing their GED (General Educational Development) Certificate by taking the GED Test, the high school equivalency exam. Start by taking a free practice test to see if you’re ready.

The official GED practice test will be held on Monday, February 11 at 8 a.m. (doors open at 7:15 a.m.) at the Prince William County Public Schools Adult Learning Center, 14800 Joplin Road, Manassas, VA 20112. This test takes approximately four hours to complete and helps individuals determine their readiness to take the actual GED exam.

Results and guidance will be provided upon completion of the official practice test. Participants whose score indicates readiness to pass the GED exam will qualify for free GED testing, which is a savings of $58. Those who qualify will be required to present a valid driver’s license, passport, military ID, or other government issued photo ID showing name, address, date of birth, and signature in order to register for the GED Test.

Visit the Adult Education Web page or call 703.791.7357 for additional information.


Snow Prompts Changes in Exam Schedule, County Spelling Bee

STAFFORD, Va. — Schools Stafford County have been closed since Thursday, but they’re slated to be back open on Monday and there are changes to the exam schedule.

More in a press release from Stafford County Public Schools:

Stafford County students will be in school a full day on Monday, January 28, 2013, and Tuesday, January 29. The teacher work day originally scheduled on Monday, January 28th , has been moved to Wednesday, January 30. There will be no school for students on Wednesday, January 30th, due to the teacher workday.

On Monday, January 28th, middle and high school students will have their exams that were originally scheduled for Thursday January 24. Exams originally scheduled for Friday, January 25, will be given on Tuesday, January 29. The second semester will begin on Thursday, January 31, and report cards will now be issued on February 5. Please refer to your individual school sites for details regarding schedules for these days.

Stafford County School Division apologizes for any inconveniences caused by the multiple changes in the instructional schedule. We had hoped to allow trainings that were scheduled for the work day on Monday to continue but the needs of the teaching staff to have the work day following the exams was paramount leading to the change in the work day from Monday to Wednesday.

-The SAT exams scheduled at Colonial Forge, Mountain View and North Stafford High Schools on Saturday, January 26, have been postponed to Saturday, February 16.

-The Stafford County Spelling Bee has been rescheduled for Thursday, February 7, at Drew Middle School. The spelling will commence at 6 p.m.

Snow Prompts Changes to Stafford School Events

STAFFORD, Va. — Weather has caused some scheduling problems for events that were to be held in some Stafford County schools.

More in a press release:

Exams scheduled for Thursday, January 24, will be given on the next day school is in session.

The Teacher work day scheduled for Monday, January 28, will remain on that date with no school for students. Watch the website for updates.

The County Spelling Bee scheduled for tonight at Drew Middle School has been canceled.

The Grafton Village Elementary Town Hall meeting scheduled for tonight has been canceled.

The Science Textbook Advisory Committee meeting scheduled for today has been canceled.


Closings & Delays Jan. 24, 2013

Schools Closed

Prince William County Public Schools

Stafford County Public Schools

Fredericksburg Public Schools

Fauquier County Public Schools

Manassas Public Schools closed as of 8:30 a.m. Thursday 

Two Hour Delay

Manassas Park Public Schools

Fairfax County Public Schools

Arlington County Public Schools

Alexandria Public Schools


Open with unscheduled leave or telework

Stafford County government offices open with liberal leave in effect

Prince William County government open with unscheduled leave


PRTC OmniRide / OmniLink operating normal service today. Some stops along U.S. 1 not being served because of poor road conditions. 

Virginia Railway Express opens Metro option for riders after train breaks down on Fredericksburg line


Smoke Prompts Evacuation of Occoquan Elementary School

2 p.m. 

Students and staff have returned to classrooms at Occoquan Elementary School. 

1:45 p.m. 

WOODBRIDGE Va. — Students and staff at Occoquan Elementary School in Woodbridge are in classroom trailers at right now after someone reported a fire on the school building’s roof.

School spokeswoman Irene Cromer said all students are safe. 

Prince William fire and rescue Battalion Chief Curtis Brodie said no fire was found, however, smoke did fill the air at the school and the building was evacuated.

Construction of a new roof at the school is underway, and the initial report of a fire appears to originated from that construction site, added Cromer.

We’ll have more on this as it becomes available.

The evacuation comes after Dumfries Elementary School lost power today following a vehicle crash


Power Restored at Dumfries Elementary School

1:25 p.m. 

Power is now restored to Dumfries Elementary School, Prince William schools spokeswoman Irene Cromer said. Because the school’s kitchen is outfitted with a gas stove, lunch was prepared and provided to the students as normal. 

Power was restored to the school at 1:15 p.m., added Cromer. 

1:15 p.m 

DUMFRIES, Va. — Dumfries Elementary School remains without power at this hour following a vehicle crash on U.S. 1 in the town.

Dominion Virginia Power spokeswoman Le Ha Anderson said a vehicle collided with a power pole about 10:50 a.m. and knocked out power to 4,800 customers. By 1 p.m., power to all but 1,500 had been restored.

With Dumfries Elementary School still in the dark, frigid temperatures outside, school officials are monitoring the situation.

Prince William County Public Schools issued an update about the situation at Dumfries Elementary School via Twitter:

Dumfries ES still without power. Temps are still in acceptable range. Power co. reports that restoration to service is expected shortly.

The power outage also affected Graham Park Middle School, but crews were able to restore electricity to the school.

Virginia Mulls In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants

Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – It is the American motto – the premise the country takes pride in: If you work hard, you can accomplish anything, be anything. But for some who consider themselves Americans, the rule does not apply.

Undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children face an obstacle when trying to accomplish their educational goals. When they graduate from high school, they must pay out-of-state tuition at Virginia’s public colleges and universities — a difficult feat since they usually don’t qualify for financial aid programs either.

“It becomes part of the expectation for young immigrants that they won’t be able to go to college,” said Robert G. Templin Jr., president of Northern Virginia Community College.

Six bills – two in the Senate and four in the House – seek to change Virginia law so that undocumented immigrants meeting certain criteria would be able to pay in-state college tuition.

“If these bills are passed, it would be a positive impact on the Hispanic community,” said Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, chairman of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations. “It would allow immigrants who came to this country to pursue a higher education.”

The state legislation parallels a federal proposal called the DREAM Act, an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.

After the act failed in Congress, President Obama last summer established a program to award “deferred action” status to certain individuals who immigrated illegally to the United States as children.

Immigrants can qualify if they entered the U.S. before age 16, are now under 30 and have lived in the country for at least five years. They must have a high school diploma or GED (or be in the process of getting one), or have been honorably discharged by the U.S. military. They must also have a clean criminal record and not be deemed a threat to public safety or national security.

As of Friday, the federal government has approved more than 150,000 young immigrants for “deferred action.” This protects them from deportation and allows them to work legally in the U.S.

The six bills before the Virginia General Assembly fall into two categories: those that do not require an undocumented student to have been approved for deferred action, and those that do.

All of the bills require the undocumented immigrants to have graduated from a public or private high school or have received their GED in Virginia. Moreover, the student or a parent or guardian must have filed Virginia income tax returns, unless exempted by state law.

Delegate Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, is sponsoring two of the House bills. For him, the issue is personal: He is the son of a Venezuelan immigrant.

“My mom touched countless lives because of her advocacy on this issue, so I promised this would be the first bill I put in my first year (as a delegate) and the first bill I put in this year,” said Lopez, who was elected in November 2011. “I’ll keep putting this bill in every year until it becomes a law in Virginia.”

Templin estimates that 200 undocumented students attend NOVA Community College. He speculated that the number might reach 1,000 if such immigrants could qualify for in-state tuition.

“It is a little uncertain because we don’t know exactly how many undocumented students there are,” Templin said.

Aranda-Yanoc said the bills under consideration could help thousands of students in the state. About 38,000 young immigrants in Virginia might be eligible for deferred action, officials estimate.

Allowing such students to pay in-state college tuition in Virginia would have little if any financial impact on the commonwealth, according to an analysis of the legislation by the state Department of Planning and Budgeting.

Lopez believes that the bills would be helpful for undocumented students and a huge step for the immigrant population as a whole.

“It doesn’t make moral and … economic sense for us to be investing in these children’s education and having these incredible students not be able to continue their education,” he said.

A subcommittee of the House Education Committee will hold a hearing at 5 p.m. Tuesday on the four House proposals. The Higher Education and Arts Subcommittee will meet in the Eighth Floor West conference room in the General Assembly Building, 201 N. Ninth St.

The Senate bills have been assigned to the Senate Education and Health Committee.

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