Growing Up in Reston

July 26, 2002

As a recent graduate of South Lakes High School, my mind is still on how much I have learned from my most recent experiences in this community called Reston. The things which have made Reston an ideal place for me to grow up in are not the things which are most obvious. Instead, they are the things which I have taken for granted all my life.

I participated in the Reston Summer Swim league for years, meeting kids of all ages each Saturday after the meets at McTaco Hut (the eating "center" with McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut on Wiehle Road.) I would walk down the road I live on and watch my brother play soccer with his Reston team. In middle school, I was able to go with friends to the Reston Town Center and relax, learning independence in a safe environment. Once I started high school, I went to the Reston Community Center and watched my classmates perform in plays with the rest of the Reston community. I was able to go to the Greater Reston Arts Center in the Town Center (GRACE) and see the art work created by students and adults throughout the community. With friends, I strolled on the bridle paths throughout the area as they walked their dogs. I went to any number of pools in the area and relaxed with friends who worked and swam there.

IN SCHOOL, I met and got to know kids from around the world, of different ethnic, religious and economic backgrounds. I was faced with the pressures of drugs and alcohol, partying and peer pressure, depression and prejudice. Constantly, I was challenged and supported by my peers and my teachers to define myself as a person and to be conscious of the effects of the decisions I make. I was pushed to educate myself, to fight ignorance and naiveté in order to work with those around me for a happier and healthier future. From a very young age, I was able to feel like an independent and integral part of the community of Reston.

Reston is founded on a commitment to fostering the best that is a diverse community. Robert E. Simon, owner of the developing Reston from 1960 to 1967, established a mission statement for the developing community. As seen on the Reston community web site, Simon set seven goals for Reston, providing its citizens with: a wide choice of leisure activities; a variety of housing; concern for the dignity of the individual; the opportunity to live and work in the same community; commercial, cultural, and recreational facilities available from the beginning of development; and a high standard for structural and natural beauty. What Simon envisioned for Reston to become was an idealized microcosm, an example for the rest of the country and the world. The hope was that people of all ages, economic standing, and ethnic backgrounds would come to live in a single community and work together, creating a unified whole without losing sight of themselves as individuals.

THE TRUTH OF RESTON is that it does successfully promote a diverse population of individuals to live and work together to create a unified whole. I believe the Reston environment is unique in promoting healthy living for the mind, body, and spirit of its residents. As I prepare to leave this community for college in the fall, I hope that Reston will continue to be a place of challenges and opportunities which I will always be able to come home to. As newcomers to the community I wish you well hoping that you will get from this place a sense of belonging; that you bring with you open minds and free spirits and a readiness to diversify Reston even farther with your own individuality.

Rachel Rizk

Freetown Drive, Reston