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Miller Steps Down From Northern Virginia Community College Board

After two four-year terms on the NOVA Board as one of three members representing Fairfax County, David Miller is stepping down. For the past two years, he has served as Board Chair. His last meeting was on May 20.

First appointed by then-Braddock District Supervisor and now Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, Miller says he has enjoyed working with President Robert Templin, Jr. during his service on the Board and is pleased with the steady progress NOVA has made over those years.

“The growth of this College measured by both the quantity of students served and the quality of the programs offered has been phenomenal,” said Miller. “In the 2012-2013 academic year, NOVA awarded more associate degrees than any other two-year college in the country. At the same time, NOVA is the only Virginia institution of higher education with eight consecutive Outstanding Faculty Awards. That is more than UVA or the College of William and Mary.”

Miller, a former U.S. Army Infantry Officer, said his priorities were on active duty military, veterans and their families, as well as individuals with special needs.

“I am pleased that we have veterans advisors at each of our campuses and that for the fourth straight year NOVA has been named a ‘Military Friendly School’ by G.I. Jobs magazine.”

As the father of two autistic boys, Miller said that he has a special interest and place in his heart for young people with disabilities. “NOVA is committed to ensuring that all students have an opportunity to pursue a college education regardless of a disability, and NOVA can anticipate increasing numbers of students with disabilities because of our open admissions policy.”

Optimistic about the future of NOVA, Miller sees three trends on the horizon.

“First, I foresee a new, expanding and mutually beneficial relationship between NOVA and George Mason University with both institutions working collaboratively to make post-secondary education more affordable. A second trend is the expansion of innovative programs like our SySTEMic Solutions program that involves an active collaboration with area private sector companies like Micron. NOVA is positioned to create a sustainable workforce pipeline that by the year 2015 will have more than 3,000 students preparing for careers in science, technology, engineering, math and the health sector.”

Finally, the third trend Miller sees is a more active relationship between NOVA and the federal government, particularly in cybersecurity training. “Given our proximity to Washington, such partnerships are an attractive opportunity not shared by most other community colleges.”

As he departs after eight years, Miller said he appreciates the opportunity to have served the people of Fairfax County on the College Board and congratulates the NOVA faculty, staff and students for all they have accomplished. “My advice is not to let up and keep on pushing for excellence,” he said.

Woodbridge High School’s Carol Rethmel Retires after 14 Years as Choral Director

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Woodbridge Senior High School’s Choral Department presented their annual Spring Show last month.

Aside from the spectacular costumes and choreography, the Choral Department showed off their talented vocalists as they sang hit songs from Guys and Dolls, Beauty and the Beast, All That Jazz, Les Misérables and Hairspray.

“I’ve been doing choir since I was in elementary school, both in school and privately, but that was my first solo. I’ve been in small group solos, but never alone. Everyone was really excited and happy to do it, which made it so much fun! I’m going to try talking the new teacher into letting me set up an acapella group!” Junior Casey Wallace, a soloist in a Hairspray Medley.

Much like Wallace, joining the WSHS Choral Department came with new experiences for Junior Luis Herrera.

“This is my first year taking choir class, but definitely not my last. I’ve taken several music classes but choir is my favorite. The class is worth it because I had the chance to perform with not just the guys in Men’s choir, but everyone in the Choral Department as well. My favorite part of the show was having the chance to perform with, and meet, such wonderful and talented people,” Herrera said.

For seniors, including Corinna Champlin, the Spring Show was their last chance to perform on a high school stage.

“It was amazing, as always. I love performing and this show was one of my favorites. It was a little sad, but I’m glad my last performance went so well. I plan to enjoy music and performing when I can, but as of right now I’m planning to go to nursing school,” Champlin said.

Carol Rethmel completed her fourteenth year as Choral Director teaching at WSHS, and this was her final show with her students.

“I think before the curtain opened Friday when we did our motivational speech and we all stood together as one big family – which is what they (the Choral Department) refer to themselves as – was my proudest moment. I can’t imagine not continuing with music,” Rethmel said.

Two of Rethmel’s former students, Kara Hollis and Kelli Hutchinson, who graduated in 2011, coordinated a very moving video in honor of Rethmel’s retirement. To end the memorable evening, a conglomeration of WSHS alumni participated in the video, which was presented at the end of the evening.

Sophomore Patrick Kelly takes singing very seriously, as he was selected to attend the Governor’s School for Fine Arts Summer Program this year.

“I will be participating in the Visual and Performing Arts Section at Radford University, with a concentration in Vocal Arts. The courses include: vocal lessons, group and private, sight-singing and music theory. Many social events are scheduled as well, providing an opportunity to work with other students and faculty throughout the state with common interest. This experience will combine hard work and personal growth to create life enriching memories,” Kelly said.

Neighbors Give Extra Help to High School’s Vandalized Fireworks Stand

LAKE RIDGE, Va. – Volunteers at Woodbridge Senior High School are trying to bounce back after someone vandalized their fireworks stand.

The Woodbridge Viking Band Boosters raise funds for their yearly programs like marching band, drumline, and indoor guard, just to name a few, with money from an annual fireworks stand that is set up each summer in the school’s parking lot.

Overnight on Tuesday, someone went to the fireworks stand, kicked in the door, and when they found no fireworks inside, went to an adjacent trailer, forced open its door, and then stole $2,500 worth of fireworks.

With the damage to the fireworks stand, and from vandals pouring bleach on the fireworks they decided they didn’t want, the total damage topped $7,500.

“They were not just stealing from us, they were stealing from the students at the school, and that’s the most heart-wrenching part about all of this — to know someone out there would do that,” said Woodbridge Senior High School Band Booster President Nancy Ro.

The vandals hit sometime between 9 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. Tuesday. Since then, volunteer students and parents have picked up the mess, and the community has stepped up to help them out.

After the vandalism, many people that have come to purchase fireworks have donated extra money to help make up for the school’s loss. On Friday, one woman donated $50 and didn’t purchase a single firework. 

“I’m a parent and I know it takes a lot of money to run one of these things, and a bookkeeper so I know the cost of something like this,” said Julie Silverman, of Lake Ridge. 

An area resident since 1987, all of Silverman’s children went to Woodbridge Senior High School, so supporting the band boosters in a time of need was the least she could do.

The volunteers said they hope to sell their remaining fireworks. The stand, at the corner of Old Bridge and Antietam roads in Lake Ridge, will be open this weekend from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday and Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and on Thursday which is July 4.

Stafford Interim Schools Chief Selected

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Dr. Randy Bridges is fairly out and William C. Symons, Jr. is fairly in.

Symons was selected as the interim superintendent for Stafford County Public Schools this week. The selection comes as Bridges announced he would leave the school system to return home to his native North Carolina on July 31.

More in a press release from Stafford schools:

Dr. Symons has over 30 years’ experience as a school administrator in three states, 19 of which included successful service as a superintendent of schools in five districts of varying sizes. His areas of specialization are organizational analysis, leadership, culture building, learning and cognitive sciences. 

He served as superintendent of schools in Charlottesville, Virginia, Johnson City and Alcoa City in Tennessee, and Elizabeth City in North Carolina. He served as associate superintendent in Montgomery County, Virginia, and interim superintendent in Alexandria, Virginia.

He is currently a superintendent search consultant with BWP & Associates. He earned his Doctorate in Education from Virginia Tech, his Master’s degree in Education from the University of Virginia and his Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. He will join Stafford County Schools on July 29, 2013.

Symons, whose resume on BWP Associates website lists a South Carolina address, also has experience in Prince William County Public Schools, serving as Personnel Director from 1977 through 1979.

Stafford schools spokeswoman Valerie Cottongim said the division selected Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to aid with the search for a permanent schools superintendent.

On November 1, 2010, Bridges was selected as Stafford County’s Schools Superintendent after the permanent position went vacant for four years.

Leaders Affirm Need for New Stafford High School at Groundbreaking

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Several local officials, school administrators, students and community members gathered on the future site of the new Stafford High School for the project’s groundbreaking ceremony.

This $66 million dollar Capital Improvement (CIP) project was a heated point of debate in the county for the past several months, as divided supporters lobbied for a renovation to the existing Stafford Senior High School, while others felt that there should be a new school built on the property.

The tension on site was palpable Tuesday afternoon, as the speakers focused on defending the decision to build the new school, versus the details and specifications of the project. This comes after several months of outcry about the decision to spend the funds on a new school, versus a renovation.

When the new building is constructed, the old Stafford Senior High School building, which opened 41-years-ago, will be demolished to make way for parking lots, athletic fields, and a new automotive facility.

Joseph Lewis, Principal of Stafford Senior High School, introduced and congratulated the class of 2016, the first class of students that will graduate from the new facility, while speaking about the design of the project.

“We spent hours upon hours with staff and students, talking to them about what they feel would be the best learning environment and what would be the best teaching environment,” Lewis said of the design process with the architectural and engineering firm, Grimm & Parker Architects and Hess Construction + Engineering Design.

Dr. Randy Bridges, School Superintendent, pointed out the upcoming challenges for the project.

“Along the way now there’s going to be some bumps – you’re not going to build a brand new $66 million dollar facility on the same site of the existing high school while the same high school is operational, and not have some challenges,” Bridges said.

Both Bridges and Stafford School Board member Meg Bohmke commented on the benefits that this new facility will provide for future Stafford students.

“One of the things I haven’t done enough of during this [planning] process, which I’m going to try and correct now, is to talk about the students. Once this facility is open, and there will be spacious classrooms for them to learn, modern technology for them to exercise their ability to gather information, the opportunity for our teachers to be in workrooms to have collegial conversations to make them better at their skill,” Bridges said.

“Students won’t be able to pass papers under their classrooms anymore, they won’t be able to hear the instruction going on in the classroom next to them. I don’t know how you teachers have survived here for so many years – you obviously have the ability to concentrate because you definitely have had some interruption over the years,” said Bohmke, speaking to a chuckling crowd about the issues students and faculty had with the current high school building.

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An artist’s rendering of the new Stafford High School. [Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Kotlus: College Funding Worries Prince William Graduates

Schools Blog

Finding funds to pay for college is no easy task, whether you have a college savings plan or if a student works through college and takes advantage of options at one of Virginia’s community colleges.

The topic on the minds of some of those who spoke at the Prince William County School Board meeting Wednesday night was financial literacy. As many in the U.S. struggle with credit card debt and mortgages, student loan debt also lands graduates, who’ve just turned their tassles, on a road to financial instability despite doing “the right thing” by going to school.

In fact, on Wednesdsay night, some students came to talk about just that topic. One recent graduate urged the school board to provide more money for scholarships because “Students shouldn’t have to worry about anything but grades.” Another noted her dreams of going to school in New York City encouraged her to look for others to help fund her college dreams because “loans can be a hassle”.

By the time students head off to college many should worry about a lot of things, including making responsible, adult decisions, that will pay off in the long run. For example, those who seek schools of choice just because its in a particular city may not be the best choice for students, according to a list recently released by Forbes.

The financial magazine recently ranked colleges with the best return on investment, noting that families need to approach higher education the same way they’d approach any major financial decision, with planning, logic, and an eye on overall value.

School Lunch Cost Rising 10 Cents in Prince William

The Semper Fi sandwich at Stars and Stripes Cafe and Collectibles in Triangle. [Photo; Stephanie Tipple / Potomac Local News]

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – The cost of school lunches is going up by 10 cents next year in Prince William County.

School officials said federal rules require uniformity when it comes to the amount of money reimbursed to the school division for student meals.

Starting in September, the cost for school lunch will be:

$2.35 for elementary school students

$2.50 for middle school students

$2.60 for high school students

The new school lunch prices go into effect for the 2013-2014 school year.

School lunch prices differ slightly in neighboring Stafford County differ slightly, as students in kindergarten through 5th grade pay $2.30, and students from 6th to 12th grade pay $2.40 per lunch.


Hanna Replaces Williams at Drew Middle School

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Stafford County School officials named Tammara M. Hanna as the new principal of Drew Middle School this week. She replaces outgoing Principal Catherine Williams who will retire at the end of this school year.

Here’s more information about Hanna from Stafford County Public Schools:

Hanna is a 21-year veteran as a public school educator. She has taught in Prince George, Va., Hanover, Chesterfield and Fairfax counties.

She came to Stafford County and A.G. Wright Middle School in 2001 and continued as a teacher, assuming duties as a language arts teacher, team leader, and department chair. She served as principal intern at A.G. Wright Middle School in 2004 and was selected as their assistant principal in 2006.

Hanna earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Longwood University and a Master’s of Education from Virginia Commonwealth University and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Educational Leadership program. She and her family live in Stafford County.

New Leadership Appointed to Manassas Schools

MANASSAS, Va. – The Manassas City School Board has announced the appointment of several new principals for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year.

David Rupert — Weems Elementary 

David Rupert, who serves as assistant principal at Baldwin Elementary will become principal Weems Elementary School effective July 1, 2013. He’s been at the school for one year.

“I am excited to return to the school and work with the



students, teachers, and the community”, said Rupert of his new position. A Pennsylvania native, Rupert holds a degree in Elementary Education from Clairion University, and a masters degree in supervision and leadership from California University of Pennsylvania, and has taught with Manassas City Public Schools since 2003 in both elementary and intermediate schools.

Cathy F. Brenner — Osbourn High School

Cathy F. Benner will become Osbourn High School’s new principal. Benner is currently the principal at Falls Church High



School where she has served since 2008 after a career in education dating back to 1979 in various positions including assistant superintendent for Culpeper County Public Schools and sub-school principal at Centreville High School in Clifton. Benner has also taught as an adjunct professor of School Finance and School Law at George Mason University.

“I believe some really wonderful things will happen in the coming year,” she said.

Benner’s own educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Richmond, master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction from George Mason University, and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Shenandoah University. Benner is currently in the doctoral program at Virginia Tech.

Kenneth Kratzer — Mayfield Intermediate School

Kenneth Kratzer has been named the new principal of Mayfield Intermediate School after serving as an assistant principal there since 2006. Kratzer has been with Manassas City Public Schools since 1991 and holds a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, and a master’s degree in education leadership from George Mason University, as well as holding several postgraduate licenses.

Kratzer will replace Principal Jeff Abt.

“We will build upon the successes that have been in place under Mr. Abt’s leadership to help Mayfield continue to move forward.”

Angela Burnet — Metz Middle School

Angela Burnett, currently the principal at Weems Elementary School, has been appointed to be the principal at Metz Middle School. Burnett has worked in the New York City and Manassas school districts and was recently recognized as one of eighteen principals in the Washington area who received the 2013 Distinguished Educational Leader award by the Washington Post.

Additionally, this spring, the Ellen DeGeneres Show and online photo-sharing site, Shutterfly, awarded a $50,000 check to Burnett on national television, to be used towards the school-wide uniform effort Weems hopes to implement in the near future.

Burnett has a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Hampton University, a master’s degree in Administration and Supervision (K-12) from the College of New Rochelle, and a Virginia Post Graduate Certificate with endorsements in Elementary Education and Administration and Supervision.

Kara Mills — George C. Round Elementary School 

Kara Mills, the final appointment announced, will begin as principal at George C. Round Elementary School. Mills is currently the assistant principal at Jennie Dean Elementary, where she has worked since 2011.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to connect with the staff, families, and students so we can accomplish great things”, said Mills. The administrator has experience as an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher, department supervisor, and broadcast journalist, having worked for ABC and CBS affiliates in Orlando, Fla.

In addition to her journalism degrees, Mills holds a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Central Florida, and teaching certifications in elementary education K-6, English 6-12, ESOL K-12, and Administration and supervision K-12. Mills is currently completing her doctorade in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the George Washington University.

Serving more than 7,300 students, Manassas City Public Schools’ mission is to provide an innovative, engaging, inspiring and challenging learning environment for all students.

*This story has been corrected. 

High School Graduations Continue Across Area

Brentsville District High School graduated 200 students at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. [Photo: Delegate Richard Anderson]

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – Despite the weather today, seniors at Patriot High School in Nokesville will have their graduation ceremony as planned, they’ll just have to do it inside the school’s gymnasium.

The indoor graduation moved from the school’s football field means attendees will be issued tickets to view the ceremony either in person or on a closed-circuit TV channel inside the school

Patriot High School is the only school in Prince William with a scheduled graduation ceremony today, but several seniors at 11 area high schools have already begun conducting commencement exercises, and some commencement exercises will continue this weekend.

Here’s a look at graduation ceremonies, those who are tops in their classes, and a look at graduates by the numbers:

Battlefield High School will graduate 668 students on Friday, June 14 at 7 p.m. Exercises will be held at Jiffy Lube Live. As of press, valedictorian and salutatorian information had not been released.

Brentsville High School graduated 200 students on Tuesday, June 11, also at Jiffy Lube Live. Valedictorian: Sophie A. Penn and Salutatorian Elizabeth Jerakis were honored.

Forest Park High School graduated 559 students on Saturday, June 8 at the Patriot Center in Fairfax. Hannah Zachman was named Valedictorian and Salutatorian was Derek Luong.

Freedom High School’s 414 graduates matriculated on Saturday, June 8 also at the Patriot Center., with graduation speaker Cortney Hicks, a radio personality, providing a keynote address. Valedictorian Syeda Sumaia Tabassum and Salutatorian Aminatta Zainab Tejan-Kamara were honored during the ceremony.

On Friday, June 14, Gar-Field’s commencement exercises will be at 7 p.m. at the Patriot Center, with 567 graduates in attendance. Valedictorian has been named as Wei Wei Low with Salutatorian Celena Kwok Chun.

Hylton High School graduated their 514 seniors on Saturday, June 8 with a ceremony at the Patriot Center. Mrs. Carolyn Custard, former Hylton Principal and current PWCS Director of Student Services, was the guest speaker. Valedictorian Danielle Sosa and Salutatorian Salwa Ahmad were honored.

With 653 students graduation, Osbourn Park will also utilize the Patriot Center for their Saturday, June 15 commencement, which begins at 2 p.m.

Patriot High School’s 311 graduating seniors will walk the stage at their own school tonight at 6:30p.m.. Valedictorian will be Nolan A. Uribe and Salutatorian Kari C. Willett.

Potomac High School graduated 395 students on June 10th with a ceremony at Jiffy Lube Live. Honored during the commencement were Valedictorian Amanda K. Luce and Salutatorian Maria F. Leo Garcia.

Stonewall Jackson’s students graduated on Tuesday, June 11. The 592 graduates marched the Jiffy Lube Live stage with Valedictorian Sara Jane Pancerella and Salutatorian Melissa Thai.

Woodbridge Senior High School will graduate their students at home on Saturday, June 15 at 9 a.m., and 638 students are expected to don their caps and gowns.

Prince William County schools officials note note number of graduates is estimated until final grades are confirmed.

In Stafford County, all five of that county’s high school’s will graduate during their own respective ceremonies on Saturday.

Severe Weather Could Impact Graduation Plans at Patriot High School

NOKESVILLE, Va. – The possibility of severe weather tomorrow is making an unwanted impact on graduation plans at Prince William County’s Patriot High School in Nokesville.

School Principal Michael E. Bishop in a letter told parents and students that Patriot staff is ready to implement a “plan B” for Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. graduation ceremony scheduled at the school’s football stadium. The contingency plan and would see the ceremony moved indoors to a gymnasium, prompting the issuance of tickets that determine who would be allowed to watch the ceremony from the gym and who watches it from inside the school on closed circuit television.

Bishop said the call to move the event indoors will be made my 10 a.m. Thursday, and an update on the location of the ceremony would be posted on the school’s website.

The backup plan comes as severe, potentially damaging weather is expected to move through the region on Thursday bringing high winds, hail, and possibly tornadoes.

If the graduation event is moved indoors, the ticketing system would work like this:

– Graduates should be dropped off at 6 p.m., proceeding to the auxiliary gym.

– The gymnasium and designated areas will open at 6:45 p.m. for families and visitors.

– Red tickets—senior families were issued seven red tickets to enter the gymnasium to view the ceremony.

- Blue tickets—visitors holding a blue ticket will be able to view the ceremony via closed circuit television in the auditorium and commons one. Other locations will be opened as needed.

– Handicap seating—prior to June 13, a red ticket was exchanged for a handicap accessible ticket. Handicap seating is available is available indoors. Only the individual who requires this seating, plus one other person with a red ticket, will be allowed in the designated area. There is not room for entire families in the designated handicap area.

In his letter, Bishop said his school’s staff has gone as far as to contact local TV meteorologists to stay abreast of the weather situation.

“When today’s seniors first entered our doors, it was as underclassmen, many of whom chose to make the change from another school. Despite our long-held plans to celebrate their Patriot graduation on Thursday, in our stadium, the weather might demand other arrangements,” penned Bishop.

Patriot High School is the only school in Prince William with a scheduled graduation ceremony Thursday evening.

Area Students Receive First-Time NOVA Scholarships

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Northern Virginia Community College for the first time has awarded full two-year scholarships to incoming students enrolled in their honors program. And three students from high schools in Prince William County made the cut.

Ianna Alhambra, and Maria-Vera Alverez of Freedom High School, and Ana Quinteros-Gomez of Woodbridge Senior High School, will all receive scholarships to cover the cost of in-state tuition, books, and travel abroad for two years at the college also known as NOVA.

A total of 19 students from schools across the region received scholarships, and those students who will be in the Honors Program will have smaller class sizes, which, school officials say, will allow more time for academic exploration and one-on-one coaching with professors.

“We are very excited about this remarkable opportunity to provide highly-motivated and talented high school students with full tuition at NOVA,” said NOVA Honors Coordinator Stacy Rice in a press release. “This year’s 19 winners are competitive candidates, worthy of admission at any four-year institution of their choice, so we are thrilled and honored that they will be taking their first academic steps at NOVA.”

Students must maintain a 3.2 GPA, attend classes full time, become a leader in a student organization, and visit area high schools on behalf of the college.

Angel Investor Sought for 2 Planned Swimming Pools at New High School

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – More than three years before shovels hit the ground, the proposed 12th high school to be built in Prince William County is sparking debate because of the swimming pools that could be apart its design.

The building will be an adaptation of Patriot High School in Bristow, and this one would have a rear addition that would house two swimming pools.

Proponents of the pools, including Prince William County Schools Superintendent Steven Walts, insist the $10.5 million swim facility would not be a “Twelfth High School Pool,” but rather a “division aquatics facility” that would benefit all students and the community.

Associate Superintendent of Finance and Support Services David Cline led a lengthy presentation at last night’s School Board meeting, followed by an even lengthier question and answer session with elected Board members.

Current plans from Mosley Architects, the firm that would build the school, show the school and aquatics facility would have separate entrances, although the pool could also be accessed from inside the school building near the gymnasium. The planned pools would allow for various uses, which school officials hope could generate revenue for the school system.

The first pool would be a cooler temperature competition pool that would measure 116×75 feet in size, with a moveable bulkhead that could alter pool dimensions to meet various needs. The second would be a zero-depth entry pool sized at 47×75 feet with warmer water, lifts to accommodate those with special needs, a play area, possible waterslide, and floatable attractions to encourage the community to swim during open hours.

The facility plans also include a “wet” classroom for instruction, or other uses like birthday parties, mens/womens/family changing areas, and an upper level observation deck for about 500 spectators.

Cline also noted that both the Prince William County Parks and Recreation Department, as well as the Quantico Devil Dogs, who are in the process of building a private pool, support a pool in the school in order to provide relief at over-booked swim facilities in the area.

Cline also said that money used to build the $10.5 million pool would be acquired through a bond, and therefore would not be made available for items such as teacher raises, or anything else.

Cline further encouraged the pool’s viability by noting that the new high school’s outdoor sports areas would cost between four and five million dollars, and their gym would be around $11.5 million, with neither facility ever expected to offset the cost of operation the way the pool would.

As the presentation moved to questions, Woodbridge District School Board member Steven Keen asked about the annual operating cost of the pool, as well as the idea that one pool could help provide equal access to all students. Keen also noted that he felt a referendum was in order so that “we can ask taxpayers, not just the people who show up to talk about it,” referring to the numerous people who requested to speak during open forum before and after the meeting.

Gainesville District School Board member Alyson Satterwhite, despite Cline’s earlier note that the funds could only be used to build the pool, said “we could make an impact one student at a time with money we’ll pay for the pool” and that running a pool was getting away from the school board’s core mission.

Coles District member Dr. Michael Otaigbe had his own solution for funding the pool.

“There might be an angel investor out there,” said Otaigbe.

Brentsville District member Gil Trenum said he would be happy to propose a motion to name the 12th high school after the individual or company writing a check to finance the pool. Trenum also asked who would operate the pool, with Cline noting the potential for outsourcing to Prince William’s Parks and Recreation Department, as is currently done with field use, or for running the pool through the schools, as is done in Arlington.

Students Perform at ‘Art After Dark’

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[Photo: Renee Ordoobadi / For Potomac Local News]

For Potomac Local News

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Woodbridge Senior High School hosted Arts After Dark, an event showcasing the talents of the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts (CFPA) students on May 28.

Directly after the event, senior medals were awarded to the graduating CFPA students.

Catherine Hailey, the CFPA Creative Writing teacher, said Arts After Dark is a showcase of youthful talent

“I think we started Arts After Dark during the second year of CFPA. We wanted to showcase the talents of the CFPA artists once each year in an integrated manner. Although the approach to Arts After Dark changed over the years – sometimes a formal auditorium performance, sometimes an arts fair atmosphere – it has continued almost every year. I was very happy to see it back at Woodbridge this year so that more families could attend,” Hailey said.

Many of the Creative Writing Students read poetry in groups to add visual and auditory appeal.

“I read Kendra Arnold’s poem “Essence of Music” with Kendra and Katarina Hinkofer. I was excited to finally perform the poem we’ve been rehearsing repeatedly on, but it’s also hard not to be nervous when actually standing up on stage and seeing the crowd in person,” Sophomore CFPA Creative Writing student Virginia Crivilescu said.

The senior CFPA Theater students were given the opportunity to recite a monologue of their choice – some were modern, others Shakespearean.

“I felt awesome! I love being on stage. I’m a performer, it’s what I do. It was my last time being on a high school stage and it wasn’t as nerve racking as one would think. I’m just proud that I was able to get a good laugh out of the crowd from my piece ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ written by William Shakespeare,” senior CFPA Theater student Tyler Rose said.

Some students, who are involved in more than one CFPA concentration, were forced to choose between performances.

Junior Phebe Ciemny had to decide between reading poetry and performing with her orchestra group.

“It was a tough call to make. My decision came down to orchestra because, number one: I like wearing my orchestra dress – it makes me feel like a princess, and number two: I feel like my orchestra needed me. After all, you can tell when someone is missing because there are two people to a stand,” Ciemny said.

To end the evening, senior medals were awarded to those graduating in CFPA. Excitement filled the auditorium as teachers congratulated their students, placing the well-deserved medals around their necks.

“Receiving the medal was pretty exciting, knowing that I accomplished what I came to do! The ceremony was the culmination of everything we as CFPA students have worked for throughout our entire high school career. I’m a transfer student, so the CFPA program is the reason I went to Woodbridge to begin with,” Senior CFPA Theater student Kaitlyn Rhyne said.

“I did dream about it, (receiving her senior medal) to be honest. I dreamed about going up with victorious music on the stage. It was pretty cool in my mind. That didn’t quite happen, but I still felt important,” Senior CFPA Creative Writing student Katherine Estes said.

“When I received my medal I was really happy, excited and proud of how far I came with the CFPA program. I’m in the visual arts concentration,” Senior CFPA Visual Arts student Kim Chavarria said. Her piece ‘Jellyfish Balloons’ was featured in the refreshments section after senior medals were distributed.

Receiving senior medals was not only emotional for the students, but bittersweet for the teachers handing them out.

“I am so excited to see my seniors complete their final portfolios, write a case study of themselves as writers that reflects on their overall journey in CFPA and perform their work in the showcase for family and friends. However, distributing the medals means saying goodbye as they move on to college. That is difficult; I will miss having them as part of the Creative Writing family in my room every day,” Catherine Hailey said.

CFPA includes Dance, Creative Writing, Musical: Instrumental, Music: Vocal, Music Technology, Theater and Visual Arts.

Renee Ordoobadi is a student at Woodbridge Senior High School.

Ellen DeGeneres Appearance Pays Off for Manassas Educator


MANASSAS, Va. – The woman who brought national attention to Weems Elementary School in Manassas by way of the Ellen DeGeneres show received a promotion.

Angela Burnett will head Metz Middle School staring July 1. Currently working at the principal of Weems Elementary, she was handed a check for $50,000 this spring from DeGeneres that will be used to implement a uniform program at the school.

Burnett served as the elementary school’s leader since 2007 and was the school’s assistant principal from 2004 to 2007. She joined Manassas schools after leaving a position in New York City where she implemented a new math program for students in grades kindergarten through 8th, Manassas schools spokeswoman Almeta Radford stated.

Another Manassas school leader has been promoted, as Kara Mills will become principal of George C. Round Elementary School also staring July 1. She will leave her post as assistant principal at Jennie Dean Elementary where’s she’s been since 2011.

“Mrs. Mills brings strong school leadership experience to Round, which has prepared her to serve as principal,” said Dr. Catherine Magouyrk, Superintendent of Schools in a press release. “She will be a tremendous asset to the Round community.”

Prior working Jennie Dean, Mills served as an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher at Osbourn High School in Manassas. She was also the department supervisor for the program where she worked with nine teachers and more than 500 ESOL students at Osbourn.

Mills has worked in Orange County Public Schools as a 4th grade teacher and also has a background in broadcast media, having worked at ABC and CBS news affiliates in Orlando, Fla.

Students Using Lemonade to Fight Cancer

Submitted News

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – PACE East high school students will host their 3rd Annual Alex’s Lemonade Stand as part of the National Lemonade Days fundraiser on Friday, June 7, 2013 from 10am-1pm, at the PACE East Campus, 14780 Joplin Rd Manassas.

The students decided to get involved with Alex’s Lemonade Stand three years ago when they had extra time at the end of the school year. As they were getting ready to spend summer enjoying time off, they thought ending the year by giving back to the kids’ cancer fight would be inspiring.

Working with Alex’s Lemonade Stand each year not only raises money for children battling cancer, but also empowers the students with the knowledge that they are an important component to the community. Sometimes students get stuck focusing on their own needs and difficulties, and the Alex’s Lemonade Stand helps them to turn attention to their abilities while helping others.

Founded by Alex Scott (1996-2004) in 2004, Lemonade Days is a three day national event that grew out of Alex’s front yard lemonade stand, and is held every year over the same June weekend. During Lemonade Days, dedicated volunteers host thousands of Alex’s Lemonade Stands across the country, raising over $1 million for childhood cancer research in one weekend.

June 2013 will mark the 10th Annual Lemonade Days with an estimated 10,000 volunteers at over 2,000 Alex’s Lemonade Stands around the nation making a difference for children with cancer. Lemonade Days 2013 is set for June 7, 8 and 9! New this year, chefs and moms Melissa d’Arabian and Alex Guarnaschelli will lend their support to the effort by providing kid-friendly recipes and tips to volunteers who sign up to host a lemonade stand during the three day fundraising initiative.

WHAT: PACE East High School 3rd Annual Alex’s Lemonade Stand as part of the National Lemonade Days

WHEN: Friday, June 7, 2013

10 am-1pm

WHERE: PACE East Campus

14780 Joplin Rd

Manassas, VA 20112

Robberies Prompt Schools to Enter Safe Mode

122111 PWC police

Updated 1:10 p.m. 

Prince William school officials lifted the secure the building order at Potomac High, Potomac Middle, and Mary Williams Elementary schools.

1 p.m. 

A witness told Potomac Local News police with hands on their guns appeared to have surrounded a man nearby a CVS Pharmacy that was robbed just before 1 p.m. We’re told Mary Williams Elementary School was on secure the building mode but conditions have returned to normal. 

More as we have it. 

12:45 p.m. 

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Williams Elementary, Potomac Middle, and Potomac High schools have been placed in “secure the building” mode due to police activity in the area.

Police said a man walked into a CVS Pharmacy just before 1 p.m. and showed a handgun, demanded medications, and then fled the scene. No one was injured and police are searching for the man. He is described as black, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 140 pounds, with a thin build, with a dark complexion, last seen wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, black shirt, and black pants.

This latest robbery comes  it comes after other Prince William County Public Schools in Lake Ridge were also placed on safe mode status due to police activity just before 11 a.m. today.

The lockdown of the schools in Lake Ridge came after a robbery at a shopping center.

A man walked into a Check into Cash store at 12367 Dillingham Square in Lake Ridge before 11 a.m., showed a handgun, and then made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. Police don’t know if the suspect fled on foot or in a car, but swarmed the area in search of the man.

They described him as black with a medium complexion, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 150 to 160 pounds, with a thin build, unknown age, robbed a Check into Cash inside Dillingham Square, also known as Festival at Old Bridge, on Old Bridge Road in Lake Ridge.

Police swarmed the area in search of the suspect who was last seen wearing a black sweater with red lines, black hat, khakis colored pants, sunglasses, gloves, and carrying a backpack, partially gray in color, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

Nearby Woodbridge Senior High and Old Bridge Elementary schools were placed in secure the building mode during the police search. All students at these two schools were reported to be safe, stated Prince William schools spokeswoman Irene Cromer.

Prince William’s SySTEMic Solutions Expanding to Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun

MANASSAS, Va. – What started out as a robotics program in Prince William County has now spread to Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties.

SySTEMic Solutions, a public-private partnership that aims to interest elementary, middle, and high school students in fields like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, celebrated its expansion in Manassas on Wednesday. Officials gathered at Micron Technology Inc. to announce the regional expansion of the program.

“Business and industry are telling us that the jobs of today and tomorrow are in the STEM-H fields,” Virginia Secreatary of Education Laura Fornash stated in a press release. “We must ensure that K-12, higher education and business and industry are all working together to prepare our young people for the top jobs of the 21st century. SySTEMic Solutions is a prime example of the successful public-private partnerships we are looking to replicate throughout the Commonwealth.”

Students in the SySTEMic program participate in robotics competitions, take field trips to businesses, show STEM professionals, and complete internships to develop industry-specific skills. Its vision is to prepare students for jobs in these fields, which is expected to grow in the Northern Virginia area through 2020.

Virginia’s General Assembly awared a $1 million, two-year grant for the program. Officials say that more than $5 million is required to to maintain the program as it expands.

In Prince William County, the program has reached 4,000 students. As it expands into neighboring counties, SySTEMic Solutions aims to reach 40,000 children by 2016.

The company that hosted Wednesday’s event to announce the expansion also announced a financial contribution to help keep it going.

“Micron and the Micron Foundation are proud to have been there with SySTEMic Solutions since its inception. This is a win-win for business and education,” stated Raj Narasimhan, the site director for Micron Technology in a press release. “Public-private partnerships are essential and building programs like this will enable our goal. In addition to our seed funding and annual support since the inception, for this year we have committed a support of $120,000 for SySTEMic Solutions programs.”

Antietam Elementary Hosting First Mustang Stampede

LAKE RIDGE, Va. – The Antietam Elementary PTA is hosting the first annual Mustang Stampede Friday May 31, 2013.

The health fair will be held from 5 – 8 p.m. Come out and visit with participating vendors. Food will be sold during the event.

The Stampede (1 mile fun run) will begin at 6:15 p.m. by the school flag pole. The PTA has offered a running club to its students for the past three years to encourage the love of running and promote a healthy lifestyle.

This year it was decided to end the club with the health fair and stampede. Other elementary schools in Prince William County were invited to participate.

All proceeds from the event will go to fund activities, events and equipment to enrich the educational environment of our students.

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