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North Stafford High School’s second annual mock judicial trial

From Stafford County Public Schools: 

Stafford County Public Schools is pleased to announce North Stafford High School’s second annual mock judicial trial. NSHS criminal justice students will host a morning of mock trials in which they will participate as the jury and accused. Stafford County prosecutors and local defense attorneys will try the cases, which will consist of social media threats, distracted driving which causes injury, and possession and overdose of drugs.

The Honorable [Stafford County Circuit Court] Judge Michael Levy will preside.

WHEN: Friday, September 29, 2017, 7:45 a.m. – 9:10 a.m.

WHERE: North Stafford High School
839 Garrisonville Road
Stafford, VA 22554

School Board censures Sawyers over emails

Prince William County School Board Chairman At-large Ryan Sawyers was censured by his Board on Wednesday.

The School Board passed this resolution put forward by Gainesville School Board Member Alyson Satterwhite.

Sawyers sued School Board Attorney Mary McGowan after she played a role in defending the School Board in another lawsuit filed against Patriot High School Principal Micheal Bishop concerning a little league baseball team.

Satterwhite and others on the board allege emails contained as evidence in Sawyers’ were privileged and confidential information only to be viewed by School Board members, appropriate only for discussion in closed meetings.

The censure alleges Sawyers, therefore, broke the School Board’s code of ethics.

Sawyers’ lawsuit against McGowan is one of two filed this year. Sawyers also is suing Prince William County Schools Superintendent Steven Walts, alleging he would not provide access to emails of his predecessor, Milton Johns.

Sawyers recused himself from the meeting before the vote. He appeared unfazed by the measure.

“Mrs. Satterwhite, you’ve called for my resignation twice. I’m not worried about this,” said Sawyers during the meeting.

Two weeks ago, with Sawyers absent from the meeting, the School Board addressed his order to remove McGowan from the dais where she sits alongside other School Board members to provide legal advice during meetings.

School Board members bucked the Chairman’s order, and McGowan on Wednesday night was seated once again alongside School Board members.

However, unlike others on the dais, she was missing her nametag. We’re told it would be back by the next meeting.


From Prince William County Republican Committee Chairman Dottie Miller: 

“Tonight’s bipartisan censure of Ryan Sawyers is a courageous move by this Democrat-controlled School Board and a historic reprimand for his reckless abuse of authority,” said Prince William County GOP Chairman Dottie Miller. “Prince William deserves a School Board Chairman that is completely focused on education and our students, but instead, Ryan Sawyers has used our children as a tool for his personal grudges and a platform for higher office. Our kids deserve better.

Miller continued, “Since Sawyers was sworn-in as chairman of the School Board in December of 2015, he has been the model of divisive leadership. Whether it be teacher intimidation, federal investigation threats, disrespect of reservist Gil Trenum and our veterans, retaliation of a Patriot High School principal, petty lawsuits, or a disregard for ethics, Chairman Sawyers has been more partisan warrior than consensus builder. Our schools face very serious issues, and Sawyers is neglecting them. This censure should be a call for our community to demand that Ryan Sawyers take his job seriously or step down immediately.”

Kline developer proffers funds for trailer classroom at Signal Hill Elementary School

MANASSAS — Stanley Martin Homes has offered $45,000 for the addition a new trailer classroom at Signal Hill Elementary School.

Under a new purchasing contract with school division, its enough to purchase a single-wide trailer.

The cash is apart of proffers for the Kline Development, a mixed-use community to include 400 new homes planned at the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Liberia Avenue outside Manassas.

Officials have yet to approve a rezoning for the land that would clear the way for the project, which is scheduled to go before the Prince William County Planning Commission on Oct. 4.

While county school officials have no say on whether or not the project is approved, they made it clear they don’t want the new homes because it would cause overcrowding conditions at nearby schools.

As we’ve reported, “If built, the Kline development will bring an estimated 238 new students to Signal Hill Elementary, Parkside Middle, and Osbourn Park High schools. By the 2020-21 school year, Signal Hill and Parkside are slated to be operating at over 100 percent capacity. Five years later, the estimated capacity numbers at each school jump to 125 and 110 percent, respectively.”

School officials this week tell us the $45,000 would be enough to add a new modular, or trailer classroom to Signal Hill Elementary School. From Prince William County Public Schools

“…the applicant shall make a monetary contribution to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors in the amount of $45,000 for the installation of a new modular classroom at Signal Hill elementary School.’

Stanley Martin Homes did not respond to a request for comment on this post.

In addition to the new homes, the proposal calls for building commercial buildings along Prince William Parkway across from a Harris Teeter grocery store in Manassas City. For these structures, supervisors must also approve multiple special-use permits for a Sheetz gas station, an unnamed drive-through fast food restaurant, a CVS Pharmacy with a drive-through window, and a self-storage facility

Updated: Mason celebrates 20 years in Prince William, to announce new research center, brewery, apartments

The Science and Technology Campus of George Mason University outside Manassas will turn 20 years old this month.

Formerly the George Mason University Prince William Campus, several new amenities are planned for the campus to include a new research center, a 350-unit apartment complex, and a brewery.

More in an announcement from the university:

George Mason University plans to mark the 20th anniversary of its Science and Technology Campus in Manassas on Wednesday, Sept. 20, with a celebration including university and community leaders.

George Mason President Ángel Cabrera and prominent leaders in business and research from SciTech’s past and present will participate in a tribute to 20 years of progress that helped Mason become ranked among the top research universities in the United States as determined by the Carnegie Classification System.

One of the day’s featured speakers will be Temple Douglas, who was a high school student in the Aspiring Scientist Summer Internship Program on the SciTech Campus when she first devised an early detection test for Lyme disease.

Douglas is now at Virginia Tech working on a Ph.D. after getting her bachelor’s degree in physics from Princeton. She credited her time on Mason’s SciTech campus for changing her life.

Another speaker will include Mary Ellen O’Toole, the renowned former senior FBI profiler, and director of the Mason Forensic Science Program.

The SciTech Campus continues to grow, with plans underway to expand STEM instruction and research. Another 2,500 students and close to 100 new faculties are expected on the SciTech Campus within the next decade, with many of them coming for STEM-intensive programs.

Other plans for the SciTech Campus neighborhood include a research center, a brewery and a 350-unit apartment complex that will house graduate students, faculty, and staff.

Additional plans involving the SciTech Campus will be announced at the ceremony, which takes place at Verizon Auditorium in Colgan Hall from 2-3:30 p.m. 10900 University Blvd, Manassas VA 20110.

We asked George Mason University Science and Technolgy Campus Director of Campus Relations Molly Grove about the brewery, and new apartments coming to the campus, noted in the announcement above. 

She responded and told us those amenities are being built nearby the campus, but not necessarily on campus. 

From Grove: 

These two questions brewery and dorms are specific to “Other plans for the SciTech Campus neighborhood include a research center, a brewery and a 350-unit apartment complex that will house graduate students, faculty and staff.”

Neighborhood not referring to campus specifically but what is in and around Innovation Park. Brewery is Heritage Brewery [anchoring the nearby Landing at Canon Branch Development in Manassas] and Farm Brew Live on Rt. 28. [The] 3500unit apartment is complex Coleman Rector is building off Wellington Road.

The research center will be in the Volgenau School of Engineering to be held in leased space on Innovation Drive. I have not been informed on what type of research yet. This fall semester we are holding classes in mechanical engineering and bio-engineering on our campus for the first time.

New contract awarded for trailer classrooms

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — Prince William County’s next batch of trailer classrooms will come from North Carolina.

The school division this week approved a new contract with Modular Technologies, of Kinston, N.C. for the future acquisition of trailer, or modular classrooms, as the division calls them.

There are no plans to add to the division’s fleet of 211 portable trailer classrooms dispatched to schools across the county, said schools spokeswoman Irene Cromer.

However, when it does, the division has agreed to pay Modular Technologies up to $48,000 for a single-wide trailer, and up to $62,000 for a double-wide trailer. Those prices include extras like carpeting, siding, and delivery costs. (more…)

School Board members fight to save attorney’s seat

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — The first school board meeting of the new school year in Prince William County and, already, there is more infighting among those elected to lead.

The county School Board on Wednesday night spent the better part of an hour debating whether or not it should allow School Board Attorney Mary McGowan to keep her seat alongside School Board members on the dais during public meetings.

A series of emails sent by School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers on Wednesday morning demanded McGowan be removed from the head table, and he asserted that he alone as school board chairman had the authority to remove her.

McGowan has had the job of defending the School Board in two lawsuits involving Sawyers. Earlier this year, Sawyers sued School Division Superintendent Steven Walts after he didn’t give Sawyers access to emails by his predecessor Milton C. Johns. (more…)

Updated: Officials approve Colgan High School speed zone

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — A new school speed zone could be coming to the one-year-old Charles Colgan Sr. High School.

County officials in public documents state there have been multiple requests for a 35 mph zone in front of the school located on Route 234, near Hoadly Road at Independent Hill. A public hearing on the matter is scheduled tomorrow, Sept. 5 at 2 p.m. at the Prince William County Board of Supervisors meeting at the Prince William County Government Center in Woodbridge.

The zone, if enacted, would slow traffic on Route 234 from 55 p.m. to 35 p.m. on weekdays when school is in session from 7 to 8 a.m., and again from 1:40 to 2:40 p.m.

The change will impact an estimated 6,000 cars per day on the busy four-lane arterial roadway. The speed zone would be in effect 1,000 feet from the school building and would encompass a portion of the roadway that includes nearby businesses such as a BP gas station, and a Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative office, a fire and rescue station, and homes. (more…)

Kline development to bring more children to county schools

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — When it comes to the Kline property development, Prince Wiliam County Public Schools made itself clear.

“The School Division is not in support of any rezoning that increases student capacity at schools already at or in excess of 100% capacity or a rezoning that causes student capacity at any school to exceed 100% capacity, unless proffers sufficient to mitigate the impact to the School Division are received,” stated Prince William schools Supervisor of Land Acquisition and CIP Planning in a November 3, 2016 document to the school board.

Stanley Martin Homes proposed county officials rezone 100 acres of land at the intersection of Prince William Parkway, Wellington Road, and Liberia Avenue just outside Manassas so that it may build 400 new homes — 279 townhomes and 121 single family units. The land is the site of an old Kline dairy farm not in use since 1989, and today is the site of Cherokee Winds Farm, a horse training, and boarding center.

If built, the Kline development will bring an estimated 238 new students to Signal Hill Elementary, Parkside Middle, and Osbourn Park High schools. By the 2020-21 school year, Signal Hill and Parkside are slated to be operating at over 100 percent capacity. Five years later, the estimated capacity numbers at each school jump to 125 and 110 percent, respectively. (more…)

Covington-Harper Elementary School dedicated, duo honored

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — The dedication of a new elementary school was a celebration of community and racial unity.

Residents, teachers, school administrators, and elected officials gathered Thursday, Aug. 24 for the ribbon cutting ceremony for Covington-Harper Elementary School.

The school is jointly named after longtime educator and Prince William County School Board member Betty Covington, and for the first black man ever to be elected in Prince William County John Harper, who also served on the county school board.

“This is the first time a white woman and black man have their name on a public school in Prince William County, in Virginia, and possibly the nation,” said Harper. “This is history you’re watching.” (more…)

Parking brake fix complete for Prince William school buses

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — A total of 4,000 public school buses in Virginia, including those in Prince William County, has been upgraded.

The parking brake upgrade for 340 Prince William County school buses was completed on July 26. This new layer of protection adds an interlocking device which prevents the parking brakes from accidentally disengaging.

The Thomas Built Buses were not unsafe without this feature, but now have an extra layer of protection that is required by state law.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) discovered the missing feature this past spring. Immediate action was taken by Sonny Merryman Inc., a bus dealer with its Northern Virginia headquarters in Bristow, to upgrade all affected buses before the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Over the course of 10 weeks, a specialized team of a dozen field technicians traveled throughout 86 school districts, installing the interlocking device on over 2,000 public school buses.

VDOE is continuing to track the installation progress on other affected public school buses.

Prince William School Board Chairman calls for renaming Stonewall Jackson schools for ‘real heroes’

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — An online fundraiser to rename Stonewall Jackson Senior high and middle schools in Prince William County launched Wednesday.


Ryan Sawyers, the county’s At-large School Board Chairman, a Democrat who is now seeking a seat in Congress, issued a rallying cry to supporters calling for the name changes after this past weekend’s violent white nationalist protests in Charlottesville where three people died.

“When we name a school after someone we honor and celebrate that person. These schools were named in a time when Brown v. Board of Education, integration, and the Civil Rights Act were being implemented across our country. Under the false rhetoric of ‘heritage,’ these schools were, in fact, named after a Confederate icon as a “thumb in the eye” to Federal actions ending their continued racial segregation of public schools,” Sawyers stated.

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was a Confederate general and is regarded by historians as one of the most gifted military commanders in U.S. history. Jackson fought at the 1st and 2nd battles of Manassas during the Civil War and later died at age 39 after a battle in Chancellorsville outside Fredericksburg.

Stonewall Middle School, located at 10100 Lomond Drive near Manassas opened in 1964 and is home to 1,140 students. Stonewall Jackson Senior High School, located at 8820 Rixlew Lane near Manassas, opened in 1973, is home to 2,400 students, and the county’s International Baccalaureate Program. (more…)

First black man elected in Prince William County to be honored with elementary school

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Harper and Covington [Photo: Prince William County Public Schools]

Editors note: This is the second in a series of two stories about Betty Covington and John Harper, for which Covington-Harper Elementary School is named.

John Harper didn’t plan to retire in Prince William County.

While living in Dale City in 1979, the 23-year Army veteran was given a choice of transfer to Pennsylvania to help train the National Guard, or retire. After serving 18 years as an artillery man and the last five years of his career as a logistician, Harper chose the latter.

On August 24, the county school division will dedicate a new elementary school partially in his honor. The new school, Covington-Harper Elementary School at Potomac Shores, is named after Betty Covington and Harper, two retirees who both served on the first elected school board in Prince William County in 1995.

Both honorees served Prince William County on the school board, in its public schools, and Harper in the county government. He was the first black man to be elected to county office, and he was the first black man to head a department in the county government.

Harper’s story, like Covington’s, begins in rural North Carolina. His family lived as sharecroppers in a farm in Goldsboro where they grew everything from tobacco, corn, to cotton. (more…)

Longtime educator, school board member readies to open elementary school bearing her name

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Harper and Covington [Photo: Prince William County Public Schools]

Editors note: This is the first in a series of two stories about Betty Covington and John Harper, for which Covington-Harper Elementary School is named.

Betty Covington is looking forward to the opening of a new elementary school that will bear her name.

Covington-Harper Elementary School will be the 62nd elementary school in Prince William County when it opens this fall. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, August 24.

The elementary school located at 2500 River Heritage Boulevard near Dumfries is named after both Covington, a longtime county educator and school board member, and John Harper, Jr. the first African-American man to serve in elected county office, and the first to head county government department.

The new building is the third structure in the county to bear Covington’s name. The gymnasium at R. Dean Kilby Elementary School in Woodbridge, where she was principal for 19 years is named after her. The library at Dumfries Elementary School, where she taught and was later principal, is also named for her.

“I’ve been honored before, and I appreciate all of it,” said Covington. (more…)

Time is running out for summer reading, but it’s not too late

Time is running out, but it’s not too late!

Explore Summer Reading 2017

With school just around the corner, it is time to dust off those thinking caps and get ready to learn. But don’t do it alone, stop by your closest Prince William Public Library branch and score some fun prizes while getting back in the groove.

In less than six visits (YES, six visits), you will have the opportunity to win some amazing food coupons, free books and be entered to win a brand-new flip laptop (for kids) or a Beats Pill by Dre® (for young adults).  Either visit or head on over to any Prince William Public Library branch to sign up. Once you have your passport (for kids) or punch card (for young adults), just tell us what you’re reading each time you visit the library and watch the stamps and punches roll in.

Don’t worry, adults, because you can participate in Explore Summer Reading, too! You don’t even have to register. Whenever you come into the library, fill out an entry form with the name of a book you’ve read. We will hold a drawing for a Target gift card at each of our eleven branches each week for all nine weeks of summer reading. (more…)

NOVA launches weekend college program

From Northern Virginia Community College:

Beginning in the fall 2017 semester, Northern Virginia Community College students can advance their career at a much faster pace through NOVA’s Express Weekend and Evening College @ the Woodbridge Campus.

NOVA Express Weekend and Evening College @ The Woodbridge Campus enables students to take an entire semester of classes needed to earn a degree or certification, all outside of standard business hours. Adult learners who are busy balancing full-time jobs and family responsibilities can enroll in a 12-credit schedule, selecting from a wide variety of classes, including NOVA’s new business degree.

This new, innovative approach to accommodate the busy schedules of NOVA students offers flexible, hybrid (half classroom learning & half online) courses at 9 a.m. and/or 11 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and after 6 p.m. on weekday evenings. Students can finish a semester in only 14 weeks, instead of the usual 16 and also receive support, advising and instruction from NOVA faculty and staff. (more…)

Everest College goes non-profit, changes name

WOODBRIDGE — A career college in Woodbridge is changing its name.

Everest College, located at 14555 Potomac Mills Road at Potomac Festival shopping center near Potomac Mills mall, offers courses in dental and medical assisting, as well as a medical administrative assistant program.The school’s new name will be Altierus Career College.

More in a press release:

Everest Institute-Chesapeake and Everest College-Woodbridge are changing their names to Altierus Career College. The new name, effective August 8, reflects the college’s updated and expanded offerings in high-demand medical and trade industries, including efforts to ensure that students are well-matched with career choices and develop the soft skills local employers value most.

The Chesapeake and Woodbridge campuses were acquired by Zenith Education Group nearly two and a half years ago and immediately transitioned to non-profit status. Since then, the soon-to-be Altierus campus has undergone many changes geared toward the ultimate vision of becoming a third pathway for nontraditional students for whom community colleges and for-profit schools have not worked, including helping students to develop many of the “soft skills” employers say they value most. Changes include: (more…)

Groundbreaking planned for new Moncure Elementary School

STAFFORD — We’ve been talking about a new Moncure Elementary School in North Stafford since 2011.

Now it looks like it’s going to happen.

From a press release:

Stafford County Public Schools and Board of Supervisors are scheduled to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for Anne E. Moncure Elementary School. Contractors will break ground on building the new school in the coming weeks.

School officials, staff and Board of Supervisors will mark the occasion at the site of the new school. The construction project is expected to cost $29,942,000. The school is expected to open in the fall of 2019.

The design of the new Anne E. Moncure Elementary School supports the SCPS C5W vision, which focuses on: communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, citizenship, and wellness. The abundant interior transparency will create a strong sense of community connections for students, staff, and parents. The exterior transparency connects Moncure’s community of learners to the natural setting that exists on the site. (more…)

Should there be a speed zone in front of Colgan High School?

A study of school speed zones will be conducted ahead of a public hearing on an effort to slow traffic in front of the new Colgan High School.

Prince William County schools officials want to erect flashing signs near the school on both the north and southbound sides of the highway. When flashing, the signs would require drivers to slow from 55 mph to 35 mph on school days between 7 and 8 a.m. and 1:40 to 2:40 p.m.

Nohe called for to the review to see if the signs are warranted and asked the county’s transportation department director for a list of other comparable high schools on heavily traveled roads with school speed zones in place.

“If we’re going to set a precedent here, we need to know if there are going to be ramifications,” said Nohe.

Potomac Senior High School off Route 1 in Woodbridge and Battlefield High School off Route 15 near Haymarket do not have flashing school signs on those major thoroughfares. Both schools are located on side streets Panther Pride Drive and Graduation Drive, respectively.

Colgan High School sits on busy Route 234, a vital link between Interstates 95 and 66 in Prince William County. The road carries 33,000 cars a day, and 3,000 cars per day on weekdays while school is in session.

The date and time for the public hearing have not been set.

Student turns down $150,000, earns scholarship to dream school

WOODBRIDGE — A Woodbridge high school student turned down $150,000 in scholarship money to a prestigious school only to end up with more cash to attend the school of her dreams.

Shekinah Reese, 17, is a straight-A student who in June graduated Woodbridge Senior High School in Lake Ridge. She was captain of her high school dance team, a member of the track and field team, and attended Metropolitan School of the Arts for nine years to train in various levels of dance. She was also selected for the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts specialty program at Woodbridge Senior High School.

Reese has always had a love for film and TV, and the urge to study in the field. She took part in a high school summer program at Ithaca College in New York in 2016 for field production to earn college credit. There she had the opportunity to create a 15-minute documentary film about Ithaca’s downtown and its locals.

Afterward, impressed with her work, the college offered her more than $150,000 in tuition aid to attend the school. Reese was thrilled, but deep down she knew she was looking for something more.

“Elon has always been my dream school. They have a state-of-the-art School of Communications that reflects the education and standards that I’m seeking,” she said. (more…)

End of trailer classrooms on the horizon at Springwoods Elementary

LAKE RIDGE — Teachers and staff at Springwoods Elementary School in Lake Ridge are buzzing about an upcoming addition to the school building.

A total of 13 new classrooms and an activity room will be added to the school building in 2019. When complete, the $11.9 million renovations will allow 329 more students to attend classes at the school.

School staff recently took to Twitter to announce that some parents might see some movement of trailers on school property this summer, but it’s not related to the upcoming work:

Springwoods Elementary has seven trailers, also called learning cottages. When the new addition is complete, all of the trailers are expected to be removed.

The school located at 3815 Marquis Place in Lake Ridge opened in 1985 and currently holds 593 students. Prince Wiliam County has 128 trailer classrooms at its 60 elementary schools.

Explore summer reading at your Prince William Public Library: Young Adults


Free food, prizes, and events all summer long!

How it Works:

Explore Summer Reading is happening now until August 19. A couple of weeks ago we talked about summer reading for kids, infants through students entering 5th grade.

Today it’s all about the teens! Young adults (entering grades 6 – 12), come to any library branch to register and pick up a Punch Card, and we’ll give you your first punch. Then each time you visit the library, tell us what you’re reading and we’ll punch your card. At your second visit, we’ll give you a free food coupon. And at your sixth visit, more free food!

Grand Prizes

But wait, there’s more! We’re giving away a $100 prize at each of our 11 branches, plus one grand prize, a Beats™ Pill+. Each visit counts as an entry into the drawings, and you can earn punches for up to nine visits. Plus, write a book review and enter it on our Explore Summer Reading website,, and earn extra entries! You might also find your book review published to our Goodreads page,

Weekly Challenges and Events

Come in each week of summer reading and complete the weekly challenge for the chance to win additional prizes. Then put your smartphone down and come to a free event, such as a cartooning workshop, art class, cooking demo, magic workshop, reptile show, laser tag party, and much more. For the full lineup, pick up a copy of Explore magazine at any library or visit our events page at

Then pick your smartphone back up and tag us #PWPLSsummer on social media. Find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Tag us and we might repost! (more…)

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