For a Better Commute. For a Better Prince William County.


Archery grows in popularity in county elementary schools

Archery is growing in popularity in Prince William County Public Schools.

Rosa Parks Elementary School in Dale City sent home letters to parents late last month notifying them of the archery program that will be offered during the school’s physical education classes, as well as giving them the opportunity to opt out their child from the program.

Here’s a portion of the letter: (more…)

Manassas students fill up on ‘second-chance breakfast’

It’s 9 a.m., and a quiet middle school cafeteria suddenly fills with the voices of hungry students making a dash for the breakfast line.

On the menu: Mini blueberry pancakes, fruit, milk, and juice. Students walk through the line, grab their favorite quick-serve breakfast items and find a table to sit, eat, and chat with their friends.

“I eat it every day. I love the pancakes,” said Christopher, 14.

The students at Grace E. Metz Middle School in Manassas sit for about 10 minutes, scarf breakfast, and then it’s back to class.

On Tuesday, Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and State Sen. Jeremy McPike joined them to recognize a nutritional milestone: getting more children to eat school breakfast.

The Manassas public school won its division in a contest to increase the number of students who eat breakfast. There were 19% more Metz students eating school breakfast between October and December 2016 versus the same time the year before. McAuliffe on Tuesday, along with “No Kid Hungry Virginia” announced the winners of the Virginia Breakfast Challenge, a campaign to increase school breakfast participation across the state. (more…)

Prince William County Public Schools 2017 End of Year Guide

From Prince William County Public Schools: 

Dismissal Schedule for Last School Day, June 15

If there are no unexpected closures that impact the school schedule for the remainder of this school year, the last day of school for the 2016–17 school year is scheduled to be Thursday, June 15.

The standard early dismissal plans for June 15, the last day of school, are as follows:

Elementary and middle school students will be dismissed on a half-day schedule.
High school dismissal is set for 10 a.m.
June 15 dismissal times for all schools will be posted on the Transportation Services web page as soon as they are available.
PACE students will follow the high school schedule.
There will be no preschool special education, Title I preschool, Head Start, or Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI or PVI+) classes on June 15.
Lunch will not be served in the high schools.
Lunch will be served in the elementary and middle schools.
SACC will open at dismissal for students enrolled in the before-and-after, or in the after-school-only program. Next Generation will open at dismissal for all enrolled students. All SACC and Next Generation sites will remain open until their normal 6:30 p.m. closing time.

High School Exam Dismissal Schedule

Prince William County Public Schools have announced an 11:30 a.m. dismissal time for high school seniors during final exams on the following schedule:

May 11–16

May 17–22

May 25–31
Governor’s School @ Innovation Park
Potomac High School
Stonewall Jackson High School

May 26–June 1
Battlefield High School
Patriot High School

May 31–June 8
New Directions School

June 1–6
Forest Park High School
Gar-Field High School

June 2–7
Brentsville District High School
Freedom High School
Hylton High School
Osbourn Park High School
Woodbridge High School

The high school final exam dismissal schedule for students in grades 9, 10, and 11 will be as follows, with the last day of school for the 2016–17 school year on June 15.

June 12: Students will have two exams and will dismiss according to the usual dismissal schedule.
June 13: Students will have two exams and will dismiss at 11:30 a.m.
June 14: Students will have two exams and will dismiss at 11:30 a.m.
June 15: Students will have one exam and will dismiss at 10 a.m.

2017 Graduation Dates Announced

School  Day  Date Time Venue
Battlefield High School Tuesday June 6 1 p.m.  Jiffy Lube Live
Brentsville District High School  Saturday June 10 10 am.  Brentsville District High School
Forest Park High School  Friday  June 9 2 p.m.  GMU Eagle Bank Arena
Freedom High School  Saturday  June 10 7 p.m.  Eagle Bank Arena
Gar-Field High School  Friday  June 9 7 p.m.  Eagle Bank Arena
Governors School (Senior Ceremony) Saturday  June 3 1o a.m.  GMU Sci-Tech Campus — Verizon Auditorium
Hylton High School  Satruday  June 10 9:30 a.m.  GMU Eagle Bank Arena
PACE East (Senior Awards) Friday  May 19 9:15 a.m. PACE East Gym
PACE West  Thursday  May 25 12:30 p.m.  PACE West
Patriot High School  Tuesday  June 6 7 p.m.  Jiffy Lube Live 
Potomac High School  Monday  June 5 2 p.m.  Jiffy Lube Live
Stonewall Jackson Senior High School  Monday  June 5 7 p.m.  Jiffy Lube Live 
Summer School and Adult Education  Thursday August 3 7:30 p.m.  Gar-Field High School Auditorium 
Thomas Jefferson High School  Saturday  June 17 7 p.m  GMU Eagle Bank Arena
Woodbridge Senior High School  Saturday  June 10 9 a.m.  Woodbirdge Senior High School 

Events scheduled at Jiffy Lube Live Pavilion and GMU Eagle Bank Arena are subject to change.


Graham Park Middle School competes in robotics challenge

From an email to Potomac Local: 

“Graham Park Middle School from Triangle, Virginia qualified for the VEXIQ World Competition in Louisville, Kentucky which runs from 23 through 25 April 2017.  The two teams traveled to represent the school and are currently in deep competition.

Graham Park Middle Schools team 3613M …they all worked so hard…ranked 25 out of 77 in their division…there were over 300 teams competing in middle school.

The team is led by Oscar Mcculough the teams are comprised of 6th and 7th graders. Team 3613S Sydney To, Simran Patibanda, Comfort Ohajunwa, Shakir Said and Team 3613M Reagan Kitts, Mya Aure, Kirstin Palmateer, Chelsea Rodriguez, Jose Rodriguez.

Teams competed throughout the year and qualified for Worlds in February 2017.”



‘For the first time, Occoquan Elementary Principal Hamish Brewer was at a loss for words’

Occoquan Elementary School Principal Hamish Brewer, already known for being an outgoing educator who likes to merge fun and learning in the classroomearned national award for outstanding leadership Tuesday.

It was presented to him while we were covering Betsy DeVos’ visit to nearby Ashland Elementary. So, here’s a report from the Prince William County Public Schools Communications Office: 

For the first time, Occoquan Elementary Principal Hamish Brewer was at a loss for words. He was stunned speechless when Jim Baldwin, executive director of the Virginia Association for Elementary School Principals, presented the National Distinguished Principal Award for Virginia to him at a surprise school assembly this morning.

“I’ll accept this for the team,” Brewer said, crediting students, staff, and parents for the school’s tremendous performance since he has been at the helm. Occoquan Elementary has high numbers of low-income families and non-English speaking learners. Earlier this year, the school was named a National Distinguished Title 1 School.

“I love beating the odds every day,” Brewer says. “We have a relentless passion for children, and a relentless passion for excellence.”

Mr. Brewer has formed a magical collaboration and synergy of a village that has taken on the world to show that all children learn, love, and celebrate their educational experiences. He has created a highoctane, highachieving and nurturing educational environment,” said an official with the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, quoting from a letter nominating Brewer for the awardStudents say Principal Brewer is visionary, caring, and relentless and they know that he loves them.

It took clever planning to pull off the surprise assembly this morning, but Occoquan Elementary School Assistant Principal Bill Knight, Associate Superintendent Craig Gfeller, and a handful of others managed to do that. While several staff members kept Principal Brewer in his office chatting, students quietly left their classrooms and assembled in the cafeteria.

“Why are we talking?” Brewer thought to himself. “We’ve got work to do!” Then a call came over the public address system asking him to come to the cafeteria; again, puzzlement: “What is this for?” Brewer thought, “It’s too early for the goodbye celebration….we’ve got SOLs coming up!” Little did he know.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visits Ashland Elementary School


PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Finding childcare is this area is not only expensive, but it can also be nearly impossible.

That’s the message Air Force Lt. Col. Rojan Robotham brought to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday when she toured Ashland Elementary School near Woodbridge. The airman urged DeVos to continue funding childcare programs through the Department of Education.

When they’re not in school, Robotham, who lives in Prince William County and not on a military base, places her in children private day care. The cost for private daycare vs. the cost she would pay to use a child development center on a base is about double.

“I live in Woodbridge, and I can’t drive my kids to the closest CDC at Quantico and make it to work on time,” she said.

And in some cases, the need for private daycare is so great there’s often not enough to go around in the region.

Robotham was one of a handful of military members and their families who spoke with DeVos during roundtable session on Tuesday. With a concentration of military families who live nearby, the school was recognized for its ability to cater to the needs of military children and spouses who are used to moving around.

“I worry about the experiences my son is going to have, and if he is going to have the correct requirements to graduate high school after we move to California,” said Air Force Col. Ceir Coral.

Coral’s son now attends Forest Park High School, and his daughter goes to Ashland. He stated that they chose to move into the Ashland neighborhood because both schools had a reputation for being military-friendly.

The school is also known for recognizing military holidays and special events.

“We don’t [celebrate] Veteran’s Day. We do Veteran’s month,” quipped Jacks.

Andy Jacks, principal at Ashland, said he wore a red, white, and blue striped suit and posted a photo of himself wearing on Twitter to show families how military-friendly his school is. He led DeVos around the school on a guided tour that included stops in classrooms, a computer lad, and a reading room where DeVos sat on the floor and read to children.

DeVos, appointed Education Secretary by President Trump, was greeted by a group of protesters who stood in the rain holding signs that stated “Welcome Secretary DeVos” and “Fund Public Education.”

The secretary is a supporter of school vouchers and charter schools. She spent about an and a half today during her visit Prince William County. She did more listening to students, teachers, and parents than talking.

“It was a wonderful welcome here, and just to see the faces of the children I met here, that’s the best,” she told reporters.

U.S. Education Secretary DeVos will tour Ashland Elementary Tuesday

We first tipped you last week that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos will visit a Prince William County Public School on Tuesday. 

Today, we learn that school is Ashland Elementary near Manassas, located at 15300 Bowman’s Folly Drive. 

Here’s more in a statement from Prince William County Public Schools: 

U.S. Education Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will tour Prince William County Public Schools’ Ashland Elementary to see the amazing work being done to educate every child, and especially to aid military-connected families during this “Month of the Military Child.”

“A tour by Principal Andy Jacks will allow the Secretary to join in classroom activities with teachers and students. The Secretary will also meet with military-connected students, parents, and staff members to learn of the outstanding ongoing efforts to serve this important part of the Ashland Elementary community.”

The tour is expected to last between 9:30 and 11 a.m. A total of 830 children attend Ashland Elementary School.

U.S. Education Secretary, Virginia First Lady expected to visit area schools Tuesday

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is expected to visit Prince William County Public Schools next week. 

The details are still being hammered out. This is what we know so far, from a division spokeswoman: 

You heard correctly that we are anticipating a visit on Tuesday. However, nothing is yet finalized.  Indeed, we had planned to meet with members of the Secretary’s staff this morning, but they postponed. That is why we have not yet announced plans to the media. 

Absent a discussion with her team, I cannot be certain, but I fully expect that media will be welcome and (as soon as we have final details) invited.  As you may know, the reason for the visit is to learn about and highlight the great work that Ashland and PWCS are going with military families. This will probably involve a meeting with some families…. 

More information about Devos’ visit to Prince William County is expected Monday.

We have confirmed that Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe will visit Metz Middle School in Manassas also on Tuesday for a separate, unrelated event. 

From a Manassas City Public Schools spokeswoman: 

Metz Middle School has won the Virginia Breakfast Challenge based on breakfast participation growth over the past school year. Breakfast participation from October through December 2016 was compared to breakfast participation from October through December 2015.
First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Senator Jeremy McPike will be at the school on Tuesday, April 25th to recognize the school.
The school will receive funding to support equipment for its nutrition program and $4,000 to support technological enhancements, field trips or other equipment.
First Lady McAuliffe and Senator McPike are expected to arrive around 8:30 am. They will get a quick guided tour of the school which will end in the cafeteria where they will meet the Food Services staff.  The First Lady will assist with preparing the grab and go breakfast and she will also have an opportunity to meet students. “Checks” will be presented to the school and then around 9:10 – 9:20 am, they will entertain press questions.  The First Lady will also pull names for two raffles for teachers and students, which will be announced on the PA system.  They are scheduled to depart around 9:35/9:40.

NOVA students bridge the gap for seniors learning to better use smartphones to stay connected


It’s 1:30 p.m. in a college classroom near Manassas.

“What are you doing there? I swiped up, do I need to swipe down?” asked a grey-haired lady to the woman sitting next to her.

“Did find yours? It’s in setup, I think,” said a man in the crowd.

About 80 people all holding their smartphones, the majority of them in their sixties and seventies filled two classrooms on Friday in Parrish Hall at the Northern Virginia Community College Manassas Campus.

They’re students in a one-day class called “Are You Smarter Than Your Cell Phone?” where they learned about their iPhones and Android devices: How to use them, how to silence them at night, how to turn them off when not in use to save energy, and how to use them to not only talk to loved ones but to send text messages and photos to family members.

The teachers of the class: Millennials, those know-it-all daily users of technology, internet whiz kids helping to bridge the gap between college students and those who grew up in a time when many never thought a powerful computer would one day fit into their pocket.

Dan Wannamaker is in his mid-seventies and attended Friday’s class. In the early 1960s, he was an undergraduate student at the University of Kansas.

“The university had a big mainframe computer. It was so big and got so hot it used to sit in an air-conditioned cooler locker and students not allowed to use the computer, only professors were allowed. Do you know why?” Wannamaker asked his student teachers who looked back at him dumbfounded. (more…)

Beville Middle School holds color run


Photos submitted by Atif Qarni

 Beville Middle School hosted a Color Run this past Saturday. The race began at 8:30 a.m.

Color Run is a 5K fun run for all ages and fitness abilities. The route for Saturday’s race wound from the middle school west along Dale Boulevard, left onto Mapledale Avenue, then onto Lindendale Road, then back to the school. Along the route, participants pass through color zones. A powder color packet is thrown in the air at the final color celebration at the finish line.

A total of 315 runners and 45 volunteers participated in the event. 

Volunteers helped to put on the event, and they included participants from Zeta Phi Beta (Phi Kappa Zeta Chapter of Woodbridge sorority), Garfield High School JROTC, Beville PTSO, and the Dale City Civic Association.Giant, Subway, Wegmans, Modell’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods all helped sponsor the event.

Giant, Subway, Wegmans, Modell’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods all helped sponsor the event.

Beville Middle School is located at 4901 Dale Boulevard in Dale City.

Manassas School Board budget hearing still on for tonight

From Manassas City Public Schools: 

The School Board of the City of Manassas will still hold its Regular Meeting tonight, Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 7 pm at City Hall (9027 Center Street).  The Public Hearing on the FY2018 Budget will also take place during the meeting, however, because there may be citizens who are unable to attend due to unsafe road conditions in certain areas, the Public Hearing will continue Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 7 pm at City Hall.

The agenda for the Regular Meeting can be found at:

Manassas Park builds community, finds success with youth basketball

Ask any Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation staff member what is the most popular program offered and without hesitation, they will respond, “The youth basketball league.”

The Manassas Park Youth Basketball League (MPYBL) is going into its 20th year, and lots of credit is owed to the community spirit the residents and employees of Manassas Park exude.

“Whenever we come there’s always a sense of family,” writes 2016-2017 MPYBL Coach Steve Gaskins, “There’s something here for everyone. It’s like a second home. The staff is always friendly and knowledgeable, and the building is organized and clean.”

Gaskins is not exaggerating. Generations of families have grown up with Manassas Park Parks and Recreation including children who enrolled in Manassas Park Community Center (MPCC) preschool before the current building was built and are now graduating from high school. Children who participated in Extended Care and MP3, afterschool programs for school-age children and teenagers respectively, are now working part time jobs at the Community Center.

Many players return year after year to participate in the league. High school freshman Jonathan Ojo enjoys the basketball league for its great level of competition. (more…)

Proposed 13th high school to be located adjacent to Jiffy Lube Live

From Prince William County Public Schools: 

The Office of Facilities Services for Prince William County Public Schools will hold a public meeting to share information on the new location of the proposed 13th high school. The new location is located off Progress Court, adjacent to Jiffy Lube Live and the new Western Transportation Facility. The new location is less than one mile north from the previous location.

The purpose of this meeting is to share with the public the new location that is more suitable for School Division needs. The location will still relieve significant overcrowding at Patriot, Battlefield, and Stonewall Jackson High Schools.

The presentation will be held Thursday, March 9, 2017, from 7– 9 p.m. in the cafeteria at Gainesville Middle School, located at 8001 Limestone Drive, Gainesville.

If you have questions, please contact Maureen Hannan, Supervisor, Land Acquisition and CIP Planning, at 703-791-7313.

For more information on the new location of the proposed 13th high school, visit the Facilities Services web page.

NOVA, ECPI sign agreement for Cyber and Network Security


ECPI University and Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) have signed an articulation agreement that gives NVCC students automatic admission into ECPI University’s Cyber and Network Security bachelor degree program. Through ECPI University’s year-round, accelerated schedule, these students will have the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degree in just 60 weeks.

Transferring students will enjoy a number of additional benefits, including lower tuition. NVCC graduates will be charged the equivalent of the highest Virginia in-state tuition and fees for the portion of the program taken at ECPI or actual ECPI University costs, whichever is less.

ECPI University will waive the application and registration fees, and accept most NVCC credits. These benefits are predicated upon the student earning a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher in their AAS in Cybersecurity program and achieving a “C” or better in all courses applied to the degree. All courses must be completed within the past 10 years. (more…)

‘Survivor’ TV show contestant coming to Benton Middle School to introduce girls to STEM

Photo by Flickr user chicagowen


On March 16, 2017, Benton Middle School will host an event, which will introduce approximately 400 middle school girls and their guardians to STEM Careers. Our 3rd Annual “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” STEM event will convey “The Value of Women and Girls in society as Bold, Beautiful, and Innovative people.”  

Celebrity Guest; Rebekah “Becky” Lee, from the CBS TV Series Survivor: Cook Islands contestant, 2nd runner up, and activist, will be featured at the event along with other leading STEM professionals who will be conducting interactive session to drive awareness of STEM careers and educational opportunities  in the following categories: (more…)

‘Name the new elementary school the Betty D. Covington Elementary School’

From Tim Singstock, of Montclair:

The community has engaged in debate over naming the new elementary school under construction in the Potomac Shores Community. Prince William County is blessed to have two wonderful choices for the school naming: Betty Covington and John Harper.

I met Mr. Harper and his wife at the 2016 NAACP dinner in Quantico. As an Army veteran and son of a Vietnam Veteran, I honor Mr. Harper’s military and combat service. (more…)

‘Only two’ big names discussed for Potomac Shores elementary school

From Prince William County Public Schools: 

Suggested names for the new “Potomac Shores” Elementary School presented to the School Board on February 1 include famous Americans, U.S. Presidents, and local educators and activists. The names were submitted online to the Office of Planning and Financial Services or offered at the School Board Naming Committee public meeting on January 30, held at Potomac High School.

The School Board is scheduled to vote on its choice at its next regular meeting on February 15. Criteria for naming of school facilities and buildings are described in Regulation 854-1.

“Potomac Shores” Elementary School is scheduled to open this fall. The school is located in the Potomac Magisterial District at 2500 River Heritage Parkway, Dumfries.

Naming committee members for “Potomac Shores” are School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers, Loree Williams (Woodbridge), and Justin Wilk (Potomac).


Updated: New parkway elementary school site a threat to parkland, say conservationists

Photo by Flickr user Prince William Public Library

From Prince William Conservation Alliance: 

Community Meeting
Tuesday, February 7, 4 to 6pm at Prince William Conservation Alliance, 2241F Tackett’s Mill Drive, Woodbridge

Planning Commission Vote
Wednesday, February 15, 7pm at McCoart Government Center, Board Chambers

Originally proposed to replace part of Chinn Parkland, this school is now slated for a site adjacent to Chinn Park, along PW Parkway between Kenwood Drive and Trowbridge Drive.

While this new site is preferable, concerns about impacts to Chinn Parkland and the surrounding community remain.

As currently proposed, damages to the adjacent parkland would be noteworthy. Despite significant impervious surfaces and highly erodible soils, no on-site retention of stormwater is planned, creating a situation that would devastate the creek.

Serious watershed impacts would extend far beyond the borders of the development site.


Larrimore on school recess cry: ‘I’m not going to let it go’

Photo by Mike Beaty

Barbara Larrimore sent out a rallying cry for parents to come to the Prince William County Public Schools headquarters on Jan. 27, 2017 to press school leaders for more recess in public schools.

From Larrimore: 
“I thought it went really well.  The ten speakers that I had were well rounded and eloquent.  My mind keeps on shifting to Natalie Sposatos testimony of “motion changes emotion”, was a powerful moment for me.  I did not take any photos because I had my three children with me but Mike Beaty did.  I have enclosed the site here, you may use any pictures you like, just tag him for credit.  I have also attached the link for the edited ten speakers from that night.  
The American Heart Association and Shape America came to speak which was a great new perspective to be hearing from! Moms who have joined the campaign recently did so from the testimony of an All Pediatrics nurse  I hope that people at home were watching and listening, and have been contacting their school board members about their feelings.  I plan to keep showing up at the school board meetings to let them know I’m not going to let it go!”  


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