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Morning Notes

Lane Closed on Old Meadow Road Today — “The left lane of Old Meadow Road heading toward Route 123 will be closed for several hours beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, April 16, to permit minor asphalt repairs. This work was originally scheduled for Saturday, April 3.” [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Tension over Alleged Racism at Football Game Continues — Wakefield High School community members issued a letter on Wednesday (April 14) calling for a formal apology from Marshall High School in relation to a March 5 football game where players allegedly used racial slurs. Marshall’s coaching staff and parents have disputed that account, but some students recently released a statement criticizing their school for its handling of the incident. [Patch]

D.C. Airport Unveils New Addition — “After nearly 25 years, officials at Reagan National Airport on Thursday unveiled a much-anticipated addition, a sleek 14-gate concourse that will mark the end of operations of the much-maligned Gate 35X.” [The Washington Post]

Falls Church City Too Small for Retail Shopping — Even as Falls Church pursues a sizable mixed-use developments, Councilmember Ross Litkenhous says the city lacks the foot traffic or surface parking needed to attract retail merchants like Urban Outfitters or Macys. The city’s proximity to Tysons and Merrifield, though, means that residents still have many options nearby. [Falls Church News-Press]

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Updated at 7:30 p.m. — The superintendents of Fairfax County and Arlington public schools say the Virginia High School League should mandate diversity and inclusion training for all high school athletes, coaches, and officials after allegations of racism at a football game between Marshall and Wakefield high schools led to escalating tensions.

Stating that their divisions “embrace diversity and strongly condemn hate speech and racial intolerance of any kind,” FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand and APS Superintendent Francisco Durán called the incident “an opportunity to take a step back and discuss how actions have consequences and that our words can deeply hurt others.”

“This situation has deeply affected both school divisions, our families, students, and our respective communities,” they said. “In recent days, it has provoked strong emotions in both communities, and has become divisive by pitting schools against one another. This is not about one team versus another; it is about our students and how we can come together to support them and take necessary actions to ensure this situation does not repeat itself. Our students deserve better.”

Brabrand and Durán added that FCPS and APS will both “provide training and education for our athletes, coaches, and staff so that, together, we are all working to support students.”

The full statement can be found on the Fairfax County Public Schools website.

Earlier: Members of Marshall High School’s football community, including the coach, players, and parents, are refuting previously reported accounts of racist taunts against the Wakefield High School football team.

On Wednesday (March 17), Wakefield students came forward detailing their experiences in which they allege being called the n-word and “boy” during a game against Marshall High School on March 5. One student said he was spat on.

Wakefield players and parents have started a campaign calling for accountability from school athletics officials, including a petition demanding “an immediate apology” from Marshall and its football program that has garnered almost 5,000 signatures.

Arlington Public Schools confirmed that an incident occurred, and Fairfax County Public Schools said it had investigated and is addressing the reports, but in the last 24 hours, Marshall community members have issued statements and written letters disputing the Wakefield players’ accounts.

“Our players, coaches, and parents refute these allegations whole-heartedly,” Coach Jason Strickland said in a letter to the school community. “I believe our players, coaches, and parents because I did not witness nor have I been shown actual proof of these accusations occurring.”

Following up on the letter, an FCPS spokesperson said Strickland’s response addresses a “highly charged situation.”

“Families, students, and community members are upset and emotions are high. Regretfully, harsh words and accusations on social media have also contributed,” she said in a statement. “It would not be unusual for a coach to want to communicate directly with his or her players and their families about an intense matter that been publicly escalated by multiple parties.”

Parents of students at Marshall also penned a statement that refuted every claim made by the Wakefield community and criticized media reports for being one-sided.

“We at Marshall High School are defending the players of the Marshall Statesmen football team for remaining strong and resilient regarding the allegations of racism and other slanderous remarks by Wakefield High School players,” the statement said. “There is no culture of racism and bigotry at Marshall High School on the football team.”

They also said Wakefield students called Marshall students the n-word and other derogatory names. Further, they added, Marshall students had to wear masks, so they could not spit on students. Coach Strickland confirmed that Marshall was enforcing mask-wearing during the game. Read More

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Marshall High School players called members of the Wakefield High School football team in Arlington County racial slurs during a recent game, an Arlington Public Schools spokesman confirms.

Wakefield student-athletes Lukai Hatcher and Izaiah Lang took to social media last night (Wednesday) to post about the events they say transpired during an away game against Marshall High School on March 5.

“Me and my teammates were called racial slurs, taunted, and even spit on by Marshall players,” they said in a widely-shared joint statement posted on Facebook, Instagram, and elsewhere. “We also experienced unfair treatment by each of the refs and were harassed from the sidelines by coaches and Marshall parents.”

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia confirmed a portion of the allegations.

“An incident did occur between Marshall and Wakefield high schools where Marshall players used racial slurs at the Wakefield football team,” Bellavia told ARLnow, an affiliate site of Tysons Reporter.

Wakefield Principal Dr. Christian Willmore says the racial slurs included the n-word and the word “boy.” He also confirmed that there was spitting.

A Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson told Tysons Reporter in a statement that the school system has “expectations of behavior” for students and staff and that “allegations such as these are taken seriously.”

“We does not accept acts of intolerance,” the statement said. “When administration learned of the March 5 matter, we conducted a thorough investigation. The investigation was extensive and involved VHSL, officials, staff, players and families from both teams.”

FCPS personnel, including school leadership, regional office administrators, and the divison’s chief equity officer, are working with all the families involved and the coaches from both teams to develop a plan for restorative justice, the statement said.

“At FCPS, our primary responsibility is the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Every student must understand the value of appreciating each other’s differences, extending common courtesy, and treating each other with respect,” FCPS said. “We must all be committed to do better.”

Game footage shows a fight breaking out between the teams. APS confirmed that three Wakefield students were given three-game suspensions as a result of the fights, but the sanctions have since been knocked down to one-game suspensions, per Virginia High School League guidelines.

Marshall ended up winning the game, 19-18.

Hatcher and Lang alleged in their statement that what happened on March 5 has happened before.

“Marshall High School’s athletic teams have been known to demonstrate a culture of racism and unsportsmanlike behavior,” including foul play on the basketball court, they said. “We are shining the light on the continuing culture of tolerance for unjust and discriminatory practices in sports for minority athletes and seeking accountability in support of change.”

“We as a team complained to the refs all game about the way that we were being treated yet the flags were consistently thrown on us and even our coaches,” Hatcher and Lang added. “We should not be punished for defending ourselves and each other especially because during the entire game the refs, [whose] job it is to ensure each game is fair and who were supposed to protect and defend us, did not.”

The claims made against the referees, coaches and parents have not been confirmed.

Hatcher and Lang are pressing for change in the wake of the March 5 game.

“This isn’t new and enough is enough!” they wrote.

Photos via @JavellEdge/Twitter, @lukai_hatcher/Instagram

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Friday Morning Notes

Maryland Rejects Beltway Widening — The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission unanimously voted against widening the Capital Beltway, which Northern Virginia leaders have been hoping will help ease congestion around McLean [Maryland Matters]

Vienna-based Parcel Carrier LaserShip Launches Hunger Relief Program — “LaserShip launched the [Time of Need] program with a $10,000 charitable donation to Food for Others, a hunger relief organization in northern Virginia. As part of the commitment, LaserShip is providing delivery services to help Food for Others transport food from its warehouse to a distribution center in Annandale, Virginia. Food for Others feeds over 2,600 local families each week.” [LaserShip]

Vienna Students Participate in Virtual Army 10-Miler — “Teachers, staff members, parents and a student from the Madison High Pyramid completed the virtual Army 10 Miler this weekend, and put an FCPS twist on their walk.” [Patch]

Photo courtesy Craig Fingar

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Local Student Making Masks For Medical Professionals — “Marshall High junior Juliette has made 150 masks to help medical professionals in the fight against COVID-19… Juliette is working with the Million Mask group.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Little City Officials Mulling Micro Loans for Businesses —“[The] F.C. City Council will begin to move on a revised budget going forward at its meeting next Monday, and at its work session Monday night learned of aggressive efforts locally to help the most vulnerable citizens and smallest businesses for which even a $2,000 micro grant can make a huge difference for keeping their doors open.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Jammin Java Lobbing Feds for Coronavirus Relief — “More than 450 venues across the U.S. are banding together under the new group called the National Independent Venue Association to present one voice to lawmakers… Jammin Java in Vienna and the Birchmere in Alexandria are also members [of NIVA].” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Schools Make “2020 Best High Schools” List — “Seven Fairfax County schools were in the top 500 nationally [in the U.S. News and World Report’s list], including Langley, McLean, Marshall, Madison, W.T. Woodson, West Springfield, and Chantilly high schools.” [Inside NoVa]

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Many people getting bored self-isolating due to the coronavirus have turned to art reconstructions — including a local art teacher and her greyhound.

Nicole Walter, an art teacher at Marshall High School, has been photographing her retired racing greyhound named Neirin in poses similar to famous pieces of art, according to Fairfax County Public Schools.

Walter, who has taught at Marshall for 17 years, is using her 4-year-old pooch from West Virginia to create art that can engage her students while distance learning is in place, according to FCPS.

So far, they have recreated two dozen famous artworks, including “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer, “American Gothic” by Grant Wood and “Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo.

More from FCPS:

“I saw the challenges being posted by various art museums to recreate master works and to share on social media,” explains Walter. “I was just in the middle of an instructional unit on appropriation in art with my Art 2 students, so I thought this would be a great way for them to make art without the need for special art supplies.”

Students enthusiastically responded to Walter’s project… Neirin is a four-year-old retired racing greyhound from West Virginia who raced for three years…

“Since I teach art, and my goal is to help students connect with their own unique form of creative expression, I try to learn about and appreciate a broad range of art styles,” she states.

People who want to see the greyhound art can head to the Instagram for Neirin.

Photo via Neirinthegrey/Instagram

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(Updated 3/10/2020) The annual NoVa TEEN Book Festival has been canceled due to the recent spread of the coronavirus in the D.C. area.

The free festival was originally set to feature 35 bestselling and new young adult authors, like Alechia Dow and Kristen Simmons, and Brigid Kemmerer, the author of “A Heart So Fierce and Broken,” will provide as the keynote speaker on Pi Day (March 14).

The NoVa TEEN Book Festival Committee said in a statement today (Tuesday) that the festival will return to Marshall High School on March 20, 2021.

“With the recent spread of COVID-19 to the Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC Metro areas, we are unable to ensure that all of our authors, volunteers, exhibitors, staff and attendees will be safe at the festival this weekend,” the statement said.

The committee said that the cancellation of this year’s festival will “have a significant impact on all of our amazing authors” and urged people to connect with authors online and “share their books as widely as you can.”

The committee also encouraged people to buy books from Arlington-based One More Page Books, which was set to sell signed books at the festival.

“The NoVa TEEN book festival ordering pages will stay up to help you to discover new authors and explore their fantastic books,” the statement said. “One More Page will be giving away free [advance reading copies] and swag with NoVa TEEN orders as long as supplies last!”

Photo via Kimberly Farmer/Unsplash

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Marshall High School’s parent-teacher-student association (PTSA) wants people to Zumba at Tysons Corner Center next Saturday to raise money for a graduation celebration.

Set for Saturday (Feb. 29), the dance party will feature Rochi Bracale and other Zumba fitness instructors, according to the event page.

“Workout attire is ideal but not required,” the event page says. “As long as you can dance, move, twirl, jump and sway in your street clothes, you will be good!”

The family-friendly event is scheduled to take place at the Fashion Court near Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s in the mall on the lower level from 3-4:30 p.m. Tickets are $20.

The money will go to the All Night Graduation Celebration (ANGC), which is a drug- and alcohol-free party for graduates hosted by the Marshall High School PTSA, according to the event page.

People who can’t make the party can still donate until March 9 to the graduation celebration.

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Fire Truck Getting Festive in Falls Church — “The annual tradition returns as the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department decorates the reserve engine and escorts Santa Claus through the streets of the greater Falls Church area. Santamobile begins this Sunday, Dec. 15 and will run through Monday, Dec. 23.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Tysons Company Taking on Terrestrial Transmissions — “In the past few months, Tysons, Va.-based Omnispace has made some of its most significant announcements since a $30 million Series A raise in 2017… Omnispace announced earlier this month a permit from the Mexican government to build a terrestrial communications network that will mesh with satellite networks.” [American Inno]

Local Students Show Off Cooking Skills — “Culinary Arts 1 and 2 students from Marshall Academy had the opportunity to shadow the executive culinary team and director of hospitality at the McLean DoubleTree Hotel, where they worked with staff members to prepare lunch. Working in teams with staff members, they prepared grilled chicken with a demi-glace sauce, baked tilapia, mixed vegetables, rice pilaf, and dinner rolls.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Real Estate Company Eyeing One Tysons East — “Akridge is also considering taking the speculative approach with One Tysons East, a 270,161-square-foot office planned for a 1.3-acre site at 1690 Old Meadow Road, Akridge President Matt Klein said in an interview.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo via Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department/Facebook

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Swinks Mill Road Reopens in McLean — Severely damaged by flooding in July, the road at Scotts Run reopened Friday (Oct. 18). [VDOT/Twitter]

McLean Resident Retires From NVTC — “Northern Virginia Technology Council’s (NVTC) president and CEO Bobbie Kilberg is set to retire on June 30 after 22 years leading the organization.” [Technical.ly]

Pedestrian Killed Along Route 50 in Falls Church — “A police cruiser struck and killed a man who was crossing an intersection in West Falls Church, Virginia, early Sunday morning, police say.” [NBC4]

Home Catches Fire in Dunn Loring — Firefighters responded to a house fire in the 8100 block of Timber Valley Court in Dunn Loring area on Saturday. The fire is now out. “No reported injuries at this time.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Twitter]

How Walkable is Tysons? — Find out what it’s like to stroll around Tysons with a walkability researcher, who measured the noise levels and air quality. [Greater Greater Washington]

New Leader at McLean Private School — “BASIS Independent McLean, a preK to grade 12 private school in McLean, Va., recently named Paul Geise as its head of school. As a veteran educator with more than 40 years of experience, Geise excels in leadership of schools in the United States and United Kingdom, specializing in strategic plans and fostering student and community development in schools.” [Patch]

Marshall HS Students Visit Capital One HQ — “Members of Marshall High’s Latinos United Club took a field trip to Capital One’s headquarters in McLean to meet with their mentors. Students learned about the vast career opportunities in technology at Capital One and participated in various activities with the mentors including job shadowing, panel discussions, and a tour.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

USA Today May Phase Out Print Edition — “After a nearly 40-year run, USA Today and its digital sites are about to undergo a major restructuring that will include building up digital marketing while phasing out the print edition.” [Poynter]

Falls Church Receives High Bond Ratings — “For the second consecutive year, the city has earned the highest credit rating from all three major bond rating agencies.” [City of Falls Church]

Falls Church Polling Place Moved — “Due to delays in a renovation of the Falls Green apartments (formerly Oakwood), the City of Falls Church’s Ward 2 polling place has to be moved for the upcoming Nov. 5 election.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Natural Health Center in Vienna — “The Health Improvement Center, a natural health care center, has moved to a new location in Vienna. The move to a larger space happened in August, while a ribbon-cutting is set for Nov. 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The new location is 407 Church Street NE Suite C.” [Patch]

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