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Chamber Honors Local Schools’ Talents

Annual event honors academics, arts and sciences.

Ashley Coates, a senior at George C. Marshall High School, represented the Marshall Academy’s culinary arts program.

Ashley Coates, a senior at George C. Marshall High School, represented the Marshall Academy’s culinary arts program. Photo by Donna Manz.

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Ashleigh Wilson and Nicholas Aidan Smith, Oakton High School, talk about art history and its relationship to humankind. Smith performed a song-and-dance routine from the school’s production of "Footloose."

The ViennaTysons Regional Chamber of Commerce [VTRCC] honored Vienna-area schools at its annual Youth and Education Luncheon on March 15 at the Westin Tysons Corner. Twenty two of twenty three local schools accepted the invitation to participate with exhibitions of their strong points, from the Marshall Academy’s culinary arts program to the music and dance performances of Kilmer Middle School, Oakton High School, Green Hedges School and Wolftrap Elementary. The Vienna Elementary School "Jammers" performed as opening act for the program.

"What I learned today," said VTRCC president Lisa Huffman to a round of laughter, "is that when I was in school, I had no talent."

Chief Operating Officer of Finance Park, Amy Marcenaro Heckman, gave the keynote address. Finance Park partners with Fairfax County Public Schools to teach students financial literacy. Every day, eighth-graders from across Fairfax County visit Finance Park. Eighteen to thirty adult role models, per day, share their time and expertise. "Going to Finance Park will change your life," said Youth and Education Committee Chair Le-Ha Anderson.

Maureen Loftus, Director of LearningRx, chaired the Youth and Education Luncheon.

Approximately 190 Vienna-area students attended the luncheon and talked about their schools’ displays.

The Warbot of James Madison High School, manned by some of the robot’s creators, strutted its athletic ability.

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The Vienna Elementary School Jammers conducted by a student musician.

"Art is the epitome of self-expression," said Oakton High School senior Nicholas Aiden Smith, who not only answered questions at his school’s art exhibit, but performed a musical number, as lead actor, from Oakton’s spring production of "Footloose." Smith is the president of the Thespian Honor Society at Oakton.

Smith’s classmate, Ashleigh Wilson, also a senior, talked about her passion for art and art history, saying that art reflects our own history. "We see what was important in that time."

NEW THIS YEAR was the participation of financial institutions that vied for "business" from the luncheon’s students. The youngsters visited each of the credit unions and banks set up at the hotel and then voted for the most favored with evaluation forms and with "funny money." Exhibitors included Apple Credit Union, BB&T Bank, M&T Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, Northwest Federal Credit Union, United Bank and Virginia Commerce Bank.

Northwest Federal Credit Union won all three categories and its representative, a furry (human) mascot named Westie accepted the award on the credit union’s behalf.

Supporting student achievement were local elected officials Mayor M. Jane Seeman, Town Council members Laurie Cole and Carey Sienicki, and Virginia State Senator Chap Peterson. A representative of U.S. Senator Mark Warner’s office attended, as well.