Tysons, VA

A second reported incident of racism at a football game involving Fairfax County Public Schools students has prompted the school system to schedule a meeting with athletic teams and coaches.

FCPS will be holding a “stand-down” meeting for all athletic teams and coaches “to begin this important conversation to support student-athletes in demonstrating appropriate behaviors required to play sports” in the school division, according to a new statement from the school system.

The statement “speaks to several incidents and we acknowledge that we have work to do as a school division,” FCPS spokesperson Lucy Caldwell told Tysons Reporter.

Of the “several incidents” Caldwell alluded to, two have been widely reported.

The more recent incident reportedly occurred at a junior varsity football game between T.C. Williams High School and James W Robinson, Jr. Secondary School on Monday night (April 5). During the game, a Robinson student allegedly spat on a T.C. Williams player and called him a racial slur. After this happened, the T.C. Williams team left the field in protest.

In the earlier incident, varsity Marshall High School football players were accused of using racial slurs against Wakefield High School in Arlington. One allegedly spat on a Wakefield player.

In the weeks since the game on March 5, the Wakefield students and parents have launched a campaign to demand accountability and change.

FCPS says in the statement that was released this morning that it “is aware of a number of allegations regarding the use of racially charged language and racial slurs in the past few weeks.”

“Our school division embraces diversity and strongly condemns hate speech and offensive, hateful language or racial intolerance of any kind on the sports fields, in school buildings or anywhere on or off school premises,” the statement says. “We will hold anyone found to have used such language while representing any of our schools accountable for their words and actions.”

FCPS says that players heard using such language will be ejected and suspended for future games, in accordance with Virginia High School League policies. Unsportsmanlike conduct will result in an immediate review of the game by officials and coaches.

The school division pledged to investigate “any incidents thoroughly” and to take “swift and appropriate action” if necessary. It has not, however, provided any update on the status of the investigation into the incident involving Marshall and Wakefield, despite multiple requests for comment from Tysons Reporter. Read More

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Morning Notes

Virginia Not Affected by Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Issues — Quality issues that forced Johnson & Johnson to recently discard 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses will not affect the shipments that Virginia receives this week, Virginia Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said on Friday. The Commonwealth will receive more than 200,000 total doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. [WTOP]

Car Stolen from Tysons Nissan Dealership — A 2021 Mazda 6 parked inside the Priority Nissan Tysons dealership at 8525 Leesburg Pike was stolen on March 26. In a separte incident, police located a Ford that they believe was involved in a burglary of an Exxon (801 Dolly Madison Blvd.) in McLean last week. [FCPD]

Dominion Energy Leader Dies After Sudden, Quiet Retirement — “Thomas F. Farrell II, a lawyer who rose to the top of Dominion Energy to dominate Virginia business and politics, has died at age 66, the day after relinquishing his role as executive board chairman of the energy company he had ruled for 15 years.” [The Daily Progress]

Madison Student Athletes Find Success Over Spring Break — “Spring break was only a week and we managed to clinch three Concorde District titles: Football, Field Hockey and Co-Ed Golf. These athletes & coaches surmounted shortened seasons, playing in non-traditional months (and weather) and health protocols to become CHAMPS in their sport” [James Madison High School/Twitter]

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(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Monday (March 29)

  • COVID-19 Sports Informational Meeting (Online) — 6 p.m. — The Fairfax County Health Department will discuss COVID-19 & athletic programs. The county has provided a handout with policies related to COVID-19 and its effect on athletics. There will be time to voice any questions or concerns during the meeting. Questions may be sent in advance to [email protected].

Wednesday (March 31)

  • Celebree School Groundbreaking — 11 a.m. at Valo Park (7950 Jones Branch Dr.) — Celebree School, a private early childhood education franchise, will break ground on its new location in Tysons. Families and other community members are invited to attend as construction begins on the school, according to a press release.

Thursday (April 1)

Friday (Apr. 2)

Saturday (Apr. 3)

  • Outdoor Yoga — 9:30-10:30 a.m. at The Boro (8350 Broad Street) — Join The Boro for an early morning of yoga in celebration of the beginning of spring. All registered participants will receive a $10 gift card from Flower Child and a cherry blossom treat. Tickets are $20 per person, $10 from each ticket will be donated to Autism Speaks.
  • Bunny Hop — 10 a.m. on the east side of Falls Church City — The City of Falls Church canceled its annual Easter egg hunt, but families can celebrate instead by greeting Mr. and Mrs. Bunny as they drive through neighborhood streets, escorted by city staff, police, and the sheriff’s department.
  • Mini Golf and Egg Hunt — 11 a.m. at Burke Lake Park (7315 Ox Road) — Celebrate Easter at Burke Lake Park with socially-distanced mini golf and an egg hunt. Groups of up to five people can register for $10 per person to play through the specially decorated course, which will culminate with the egg hunt at the 18th hole. For more information, call 703-323-6600.
  • Drive-In Movie at Mosaic — 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Market Garage (8295 Glass Alley) — Pull up for a springtime movie at the Mosaic District. For $28 per car, enjoy a movie on the roof of the Market Garage. Saturday’s two movies are “Mary Poppins” at 4 p.m. and “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off” at 7:30 p.m. See the Mosaic website for tickets and more information.

Sunday (Apr. 4)

  • Drive-In Movie at Mosaic (8295 Glass Alley) — 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. — The Mosaic District’s spring-themed drive-in movie series continues today with “Hop” at 1 p.m. and “42” at 4 p.m. Screenings will again cost $28 per car and take place on the roof of the Market Garage. Sunday’s shows will include a special appearance from the Easter Bunny. See the Mosaic website for tickets and more information.

Photo via The Boro/Facebook

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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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Tuesday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Public Library Introduces Text Service — “Beginning today [Mar. 1], you can text your #Fairfax library questions to 571-556-5025 and receive answers in real time 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Monday thru Friday. If it’s not during those real-time hours, send a text & a ticket will be automatically generated. We’ll respond when available.” [Fairfax County Public Library/Twitter]

New Police Reform Laws Take Effect — Several police reform laws passed during the Virginia General Assembly’s special session last year took effect yesterday, including a ban on no-knock search warrants, new statewide training standards related to racial bias and deescalation, and a “Marcus Alert” system that limits the role of law enforcement in responding to behavioral health issues. [@GovernorVA/Twitter]

Fairfax County Seeks Input on Active Transportation Plan — “The ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan will establish a vision and a roadmap for implementation of safe, convenient, and enjoyable streets, sidewalks, bike facilities, and trails in Fairfax County. “Community input is critical to the success of this planning effort,” said Chris Wells, the Active Transportation Program Manager at FCDOT.” [Fairfax County Department of Transportation]

McLean High School Kicks Off Football Season With a Win — “The McLean Highlanders opened their high-school football season with a 28-14 victory over the visiting Mount Vernon Majors on Feb. 27. McLean fell behind 7-0 on a long touchdown pass, then rallied.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

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Monday Morning Notes

Car Crash Shuts Down Eastbound Leesburg Pike — A car crash around 6:48 a.m. on Leesburg Pike near Colvin Run Road forced the eastbound lanes to close. First responder crews extricated a person who was trapped in a car and transported them to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The crash has now been cleared, and the road is back open. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Twitter]

Madison Girls’ Basketball Team Wins State Championship — The Warhawks beat Osbourn Park 54-48 on Saturday (Feb. 20) to earn James Madison High School’s first girls basketball state title since 1993. The team was within a game of the championship last year, but the final contest was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [The Washington Post]

Leesburg Pike Bus Stop to Be Skipped Due to Construction — “Effective February 24, 2021: Until further notice stop #2674 (Leesburg Pike and Lyons St) will be skipped due to ongoing construction on Leesburg Pike. We encourage you to use alternatives a thank you for your patience.” [Fairfax Connector/Twitter]

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Two former competitive swimmers, who are now partners in business and marriage, are opening a year-round, warm-water swimming school in Tysons.

Called SafeSplash, the school is located inside the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner (7920 Jones Branch Drive) and will be open four days a week, co-owner Jennifer Lilintahl says.

SafeSplash is a national swim school franchise with more than 100 locations. It is also the official swim school provider of USA Swimming, the governing body for competitive swimming that chooses the U.S. Olympic swimming team.

This is Jennifer and Michael Lilintahl’s fourth SafeSplash in the D.C. area, their second inside a hotel, and their first in Virginia. The couple chose the McLean area because there are relatively few conveniently located options for swim schools, Jennifer says.

The Lilintahls have also tapped into an underutilized resource for swimming schools: hotel swimming pools. Now, their idea is paving the way for other franchisees.

After the Washington Sports Club that housed one of their two Bethesda schools closed for good last summer, the couple moved it to a Hilton Hotel in D.C.’s Friendship Heights area. They now serve as a resource for SafeSplash franchisees interested in working with hotels.

Building a dedicated swimming facility is expensive, and available bodies of water are hard to come by, Jennifer says. Meanwhile, many hotels boast rarely used pools.

“It has worked out well during COVID-19. Hospitality is having such challenges, so this is an extra stream of revenue for them and a body of water for us,” she said. “It’s a win-win.”

The Lilintahls opened their first location in 2017 on Rockville Pike in North Bethesda and soon after, expanded to a Washington Sports Club in downtown Bethesda. They opened a franchise in D.C.’s Columbia Heights area in 2019.

“It’s been a long journey,” Jennifer, who swam competitively through high school, said.

She credits her husband with proposing the idea to run their own swimming schools. Michael Lilintahl went to college on a full-ride athletic scholarship for swimming and represented his home country, Venezuela, in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. She says he wanted to help others unlock opportunities in life through the sport.

“It was always a passion of his to combine his love for swimming with a business,” she said. “Swimming took him so far in life.”

The Tysons SafeSplash will first open its doors on Saturday, Feb. 20, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Ahead of opening day and for a limited time afterward, the Lilintahls are offering discounts: 20% off for eight consecutive weeks of lessons or 50% off one class.

To keep clients safe during the pandemic, the couple is only offering private and semi-private lessons, which are capped at three children (typically siblings or kids in the same “pod”). Every instructor wears a silicone, water-proof mask, and many are doubling up with surgical masks, she said.

The school will be open Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Lilintahl

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Friday Morning Notes

Deadline for Water Utility Relief Applications Extended — Fairfax County, Fairfax City, and Falls Church City residents who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for assistance through Fairfax Water’s utility relief program through Dec. 1, 2021. [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

Fairfax County Kicks Off 10th Year of “Stuff the Bus” Food Drives — “On January 30 and February 6, Stuff the Bus held food drives at 21 locations throughout Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax to collect nonperishable food donations for area food pantries. The drives were a resounding success, resulting in 33 tons of food, surpassing the 27.6 tons donated during the previous Stuff the Bus food drives in September 2020.” [Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services]

Madison High School Girls’ Swim Team Wins Fifth Straight Regional Title — “The girls high-school swimming and diving team again showed strong depth throughout its lineup to win the recent 2020-21 6D North Region event with a 420.5 point total, an improvement from last season’s 399 winning mark. Madison won four events, finished second in five others and had as many as 12 swimmers place in events.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

McLean Youth Soccer Raises Money for Cancer Center — “McLean Youth Soccer leaders and players presented the Georgetown University Lombardi Cancer Center with a check for $2200.00 as a result of a fundraising effort held by the club and supported by its players during the month of October.” [Patch]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Winter Weather Advisory Extended to 1 P.M. — The National Weather Service has extended its winter weather advisory for the D.C. area, including Fairfax County, to 1 p.m. today due to “lingering snow bands.” There could be up to two inches of snow accumulation, and slippery roads could make the morning commute hazardous. [NWS]

Metro to Change Lost-and-Found Policy, Citing Budget Constraints — “Beginning March 1, Metro’s lost and found department will work to reunite customers with lost wallets and electronics (such as phones, tablets, and laptops) only. All other items lost in the system will be disposed of, donated to charity, destroyed, or auctioned.” [WMATA]

Mosaic District Partners with Virginia Plunge Again — The Polar Plunge Festival is the signature annual fundraiser for Special Olympics Virginia. In past years, the Mosaic District has hosted the Plunge, but due to the pandemic, the usual in-person event has been replaced by a week of festivities, culminating in a virtual ceremony on Saturday (Feb. 6). Registration is now open. [Mosaic District/Twitter, Polar Plunge]

Tysons-Based Media Company Buys Sports Podcast Network — “Tegna wants a bigger piece of the podcast action: The TV station group announced the acquisition of Locked On Podcast Network, which produces some 160 daily shows for teams across the U.S.’s four major pro sports leagues and more than 30 colleges.” [Variety]

Justice High School Graduate Drafted by Washington Spirit — “When the Washington Spirit returns to the field this spring, local fans may spot a familiar face at forward–Falls Church native Anna Heilferty. After graduating from Boston University this winter, Heilferty was selected 19th overall by the Spirit in the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League Draft.” [Washingtonian]

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