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Lynbrook 'Leans' On Inova Healthplex

Lynbrook sixth-grader Jenny Yen had a backup in case she forgot the words to Bill Withers' "Lean on Me," at the business partnership ceremony with Lynbrook Elementary and Inova Healthplex.

Jenny's rendition of "Lean on Me" concluded the ceremony. The sixth-grader, whose singing idol is Hillary Duff, admitted she was nervous.

"I like singing and all. It's kind of my hobby," she said.

The afternoon of Friday, March 12, Jenny wasn't alone on stage for the partnership celebration. Also performing were the second-grade chorus and sixth-grade dance team, as well as sixth-grade poets Angeline Chan and Kathy Ong. Principal Mahri Aste took care of the formalities.

"We're going to sign an official agreement," Aste said. "I'm going to sign it, and Inova partners are going to sign it."

Inova officials Marena Daniel and Philip Martin were on hand as well. Inova is located on the Springfield-Franconia Parkway a few miles from the school. Inova officials will be helping out with Lynbrook's Field Day, its Shining Star program around the holidays, mentor programs, fund-raisers and health-care learning throughout the year. In turn, the students will provide artwork for the health center's lobbies. Already, Lynbrook students performed at the health center around the holidays in December.

The Fairfax County Public School system relies on the business partnership program, formally called “Partners in Education,” for educational and financial support. According to Courtney Bulger, the Fairfax County Public Schools director of business and industry relations, almost 300 business partners exist countywide. Although Lynbrook and Inova Healthplex got a late start this year, the partnership will continue next year.

"It's something that we hope will be ongoing," Bulger said.

Hayfield Secondary School's ongoing partnership with the U.S. Army's Night Vision Lab on Fort Belvoir is the longest ongoing partnership in the county. It's been in existence for 19 years, said Bulger.

"I am desperate to get more in the Springfield area," Bulger said.

Schools without partners in the Springfield area include Key Middle School, Forestdale Elementary and Saratoga Elementary, according to Bulger.

INOVA HEALTHPLEX is a few miles from Lynbrook, next to the Springfield-Franconia Metro station. Daniel likes the fact that Lynbrook is so close.

"You gain a sense to reach out to the community," Daniel said.

The students' works of art are all handmade originals as well, which adds to the sense of familiarity.

"[Hospital visits] won't be so scary," Daniel said.

Martin even thought the children’s faces may become familiar at the hospital.

"Chances are good we'll be seeing some of these children," he said.

Jay Nocco, reading teacher, was in charge of the partnership program at Lynbrook. The Springfield Chamber of Commerce was a good forum for partnerships, and Lynbrook and Inova Healthplex began their relationship at a Chamber meeting. In the past, Lynbrook had a partnership with Versar, an engineering company out of Tysons Corner, but the distance made it difficult.

"A partnership is when we help each other out," Aste said.