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Andrea Worker

Stories by Andrea

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From Herndon to Sierra Leone

Floris United Methodist Church leads student service trip.

Emily Lopynski started her Pen Pal relationship with Afiju, a boy of about the same age from the Child Rescue Centre in Bo, Sierra Leone, when she was in the third grade. Lopynski, a Herndon resident, just finished her freshman year at William and Mary College. She and Afiju are still in touch. In fact, their communication over the years has grown. “It was so wonderful when he got access to Facebook,” Lopynski said. “We could really keep up with each other and have a real conversation.” A vast improvement, considering that for most of the time since the two first “met,” their friendship relied on the exchange of letters that sometimes took as long as five months from the writing of one to the reading by the other.

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‘We Are the World’ at Dranesville Elementary

International Night features world music, dance, food and exhibits.

For the 11th time, the halls were alive with the sound of music at Dranesville Elementary’s International Night Program on Friday, April 26, from 7 until after 9 p.m. The cafeteria was entertainment central. After Principal Kathy Manoatl got things started, the evening began with five first grade classes delighting the assembly with their individual performances of songs from Russia, Latin America, Germany, Indonesia and France.

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McLean Orchestra Hosts ‘Midnight in Paris’

Orchestra offers its final “Season of Imagination” concert on May 4.

Trust people who wear formal attire as their uniform, and those who direct and administer their efforts, to know how to put on a gala. Sunday, April 21, was the night of the McLean Orchestra’s annual fundraiser held at the Hilton Tysons Corner. Themed “Midnight in Paris” from reception start through a dinner that included a live auction, acknowledgements and awards, and finally dancing to the tunes of Ed Witles The Elegant DJ, the black-tie evening was as well-arranged, conducted and received as any of the musical performances for which the orchestra is known.

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Collecting for Those in Need

GMU student coordinates care campaign for domestic abuse shelter residents.

Joy Tharrington, a senior psychology major at George Mason University (GMU) and starting forward on their women’s basketball team, has been coordinating an effort with her teammates and members of the track and field teams to collect small, but comfort-providing items for the women and children being protected at Artemis House, the county’s only crisis domestic violence shelter, run by Shelter House, Inc.

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Robinson Students Make the Cut for Caring

26 Acts of Kindness campaign continues.

April 1st marked the beginning of Robinson Secondary School’s “26 Acts of Kindness”—a tribute to the 26 children and adults who were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last December in Newtown, Conn. The Student Government Association (SGA) pulled out all the stops to make this “pay it forward” campaign a success, even providing t-shirts with space on the back for supporters to fill in each act of kindness performed, producing a promotional video that was uploaded to YouTube, and even establishing a Twitter site where do-gooders could post what good deeds they had done.

Reston Little Leaguers Kick Off New Season

Parade marks Opening Day.

Although there was no official headcount, judging by the size of the crowds it’s just possible that all 692 registered players, and their moms, dads, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all turned out for the 20th Annual Reston Little League (RLL) Opening Day Parade through Reston Town Center.

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Robinson Students Commit to 26 Acts of Kindness

The number 26 is in honor of the 20 students and six staffers killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Even if only 10 percent of Robinson Secondary School’s almost four thousand students accept the Student Government Association (SGA)’s 26 Acts of Kindness Challenge during the month of April, that would still mean 10,400 random acts of kindness and courtesy added to the world. Not a bad achievement.

A Journey of Discovery

Mary Jo Smrekar of Reston and Sue Ries Lamb of Alexandria facilitate The Women’s Collaborative.

“Join With Us in Discovery.” That’s the header on the invitation for the 2013 Women’s Collaborative, a “journey of discovery” that takes place in three four-day sessions at Meadowkirk Retreat and Conference Center in Middleburg. The first session takes place Thursday, May 30, through Sunday, June 2; the second takes place in August; and the last is in October.

Jewish-Muslim Passover Seder Commemoration

Local multi-religious celebrations and interfaith dialogue inspire communities nationwide.

With one foot in Fairfax County and the other in Loudoun, (yes, they needed permits from both counties during construction) the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling couldn’t have been a better choice of venue for an interfaith commemoration of Passover, the ancient Jewish holiday celebrating the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. The building, with its cross-counties placement, symbolizes the bridge building that took place on Saturday, March 30, when members of the ADAMS Center co-sponsored a Passover Seder with the Washington Area Jews for Jewish-Muslim Understanding, led by Andrea Barron. Sitting side-by-side in the small meeting room were Jews and Muslims as well as Christian pastors from Falls Church and Reston.

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Muslim Women Encouraged to Explore STEM

Six women share their success story at the Lorton Library.

The Nubian Benevolence Association was the official sponsor for the Muslim Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) presentation at the Lorton Community Library on Saturday, March 23, but there was little doubt that Hajjar Ahmed, daughter of the organization’s co-Founder Hossam Ahmed, was the driving force behind the event.

Farm Fresh at Frying Pan

Farmers Table at Frying Pan Park offers a preview of the market season.

Dreaming of all that farm fresh produce and the treats on offer at the area farmers’ markets? Counting the days until May when most will re-open? Stop dreaming. And stop staring at the calendar. Wander over to Frying Pan Farm Park on Thursdays between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and satisfy your cravings for food that hasn’t been flash-frozen or packed with preservatives so that it could make the gazillion mile trip from who-knows-where to your grocery store.

When ‘Everyone is Irish’ at Town Center

Clyde’s of Reston hosts St. Paddy’s Day celebration.

With a decided nip in the air and the threat of rain, you could almost imagine yourself wandering the streets of Galway, Ireland—a fitting atmospheric backdrop for the third annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration in Reston Town Center held on Saturday, March 16.

Reston Hosts Nowruz Festival

2nd Annual Persian New Year Festival in Reston Town

“I’ve been to the Oktoberfest here, the Wine Festival, concerts in the Pavilion, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crowd like this one.” That was Roy Mackey of Reston’s impressions of the throngs that filled the closed-to-cars Market Street in the Reston Town Center on Sunday, March 17.

Bringing Local History to Life

“I wanted the kids to see that this area wasn’t always townhouses and shopping centers.” So answered McNair Elementary School-based Technology Specialist Laura Reasoner Jones, when asked what motivated her to produce a movie and organize a McNair History Night. Jones has authored several well-reviewed books, including “Herndon (Then and Now)” and “The All-Wise Being: A Tale of God and Republicans,” the latter being a fictionalized account of her ancestor Ethan T. Reasoner, based largely on his personal journals.

Farmers Table at Frying Pan Park Offers a Preview of the Market Season

Dreaming of all that farm fresh produce and the treats on offer at the area farmers’ markets? Counting the days until May when most will re-open? Stop dreaming. And stop staring at the calendar. Wander over to Frying Pan Farm Park on Thursdays between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and satisfy your cravings for food that hasn’t been flash-frozen or packed with preservatives so that it could make the gazillion mile trip from who-knows-where to your grocery store.

Reston Man to Walk Across America for Charity

Cody Thompson of Reston, 36, is going to walk coast-to-coast, approximately 2,728 miles.

“One step at a time.” That’s his standard reply when anyone asks 36-year-old Cody Thompson of Reston how he is going to walk coast-to-coast, approximately 2,728 miles, from Wrightsville Beach, N.C., to Redondo Beach, Calif., starting on March 10. The answers get a bit more complicated when you ask “Why?”

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Good Citizenship Honored

Springfield VFW Post 7327 hosts annual award ceremony.

Sunday, Feb. 24, was the long awaited date for a fabulous awards ceremony, but if you are thinking of that other red carpet event, think again. The honorees for the Springfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7327 and its Ladies Auxiliary Annual Awards really stole the show.

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Herndon Pets Bring Laughs and Lots of Love

Fur, feathers, fins, paws, claws. Beady eyes or scaly hides. Once word got out that the Connection Newspapers was putting together its special Pet Issue, there was no shortage of pet parents in Herndon lining up to testify how Fido or Fifi, or in one case, Pa’ani, bring joy and companionship to their lives. It would take a publication the size of the old Yellow Pages to chronicle all of the much-loved beasties, so we will have to make do with introducing just a few. Cats seemed to rule the day in our sampling (don’t they always?), but a couple of dogs managed to wag their way in.

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New Recreation Facility Debated

Reston Community Center solicits public input on a new indoor recreation center at Baron Cameron Park.

Reston Community Center invited the public to bring their wish lists to an open forum meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, to discuss the potential development of a new indoor recreation center at Baron Cameron Park. In 2012, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors transferred 68 acres at the park to the Fairfax County Parks Authority, and Bill Bouie, who is both a member of the Reston Community Center Board of Governors, as well as the chairman of the parks authority Board told the assembly that the Reston Community Center is “an interested party” in the Fairfax County Parks Authority’s Master Planning Process about to begin in March.

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Magical Musical Memories

McLean Orchestra presents youth-centric concert.

For the first time in its more than 40 year history, the McLean Orchestra presented a “side-by-side” free concert on Sunday, Feb. 3, seamlessly pairing the professional musicians of the orchestra with their young counterparts from Principal Conductor Paul Kim’s McLean Youth Orchestra.

Sweet Tradition Raises Funds for Local Children in Need

Chocolate Festival at Herndon’s Floris United Methodist Church.

The Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon has been hosting their annual Chocolate Festival for charity for about 20 years.

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Beloved Teacher’s Legacy of Innovation Lives On

Candace Leyton Innovation Learning Lab opens at Wolftrap Elementary.

Talk about a lasting impression—and the impact that a great teacher can leave behind as her legacy. Chris Shumway didn’t keep in touch with Candace Leyton, his third grade math teacher from Wolftrap Elementary School in Vienna, who passed away from breast cancer in 2003, but nearly 40 years later, Shumway was back at school to dedicate the Candace Leyton Innovation Learning Lab in honor of the woman whom he says “believed that I could be so much more.”

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Community in Concert

McLean Orchestra hosts musical mixer.

Judging by the number in attendance, the business cards exchanged, the buzz of conversation and the sounds of laughter, all accompanied by some lively music, the third “McLean Orchestra is Instrumental to Business” (i2B) mixer held at Clyde’s in Tysons Corner on Jan. 23 was a ringing success. The gatherings are part of a multi-purpose outreach program, providing a taste of what audiences can expect from their concert series and allowing the orchestra to showcase its value to business as a resource for networking—all for free.

Obama’s Agenda

Herndon-Reston citizens on second term priorities for President Obama.

A man walks into a bar… actually a female journalist walked first into O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant on Elden Street in Herndon and then into the bar at Il Fornaio Authentic Italian Restaurant and Bakery on Market Street in Reston Town Center, and posed the same question to several patrons of each establishment: “What do you see as the priorities for President Barack Obama’s second term in office?”

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Express Buses From Burke to Tysons

Fairfax County launches Express Connector Bus Service.

With the expansion of Tysons Corner firmly underway, Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is getting ahead of the commuting curve with the launch of its new Express Connector bus service utilizing the recently opened 495 Express Lanes to carry commuters from Burke to Tysons Corner.

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Charities Receive Funds at Holiday Celebration

The Shepherd’s Center of Oakton-Vienna presents donations to The Committee for Helping Others and Our Daily Bread.

Last month, The Shepherd’s Center of Oakton-Vienna (SCOV) pulled off their 14th annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Worship, hosted by Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Vienna. This month, the SCOV was ready to present the funds collected at the well-attended service to representatives of the two charitable organizations chosen by SCOV as this year’s recipients of the collection.

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Interfaith Service Brings Community Together

The Shepherd’s Center of Oakton-Vienna sponsors the annual interfaith worship.

Linnea Nelson, director of Religious Exploration at the Universalist Unitarian Congregation of Fairfax, spoke at the 14th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Worship, sponsored by The Shepherd’s Center of Oakton-Vienna (SCOA), hosted this year by Emmanuel Lutheran Church on Nov. 20th and attended by members of Methodist, Unitarian, Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist and other denominations.

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Mason Enterprise Center Expands

Ribbon cutting for updated facilities in Fairfax.

All throughout election season, the public was bombarded with ads criticizing the “other side” for being anti-small business, and not doing enough to encourage the growth of entrepreneurship.

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Honoring Veterans at Sangster Elementary

Students carry on Veterans Day traditions.

Armistice Day. November 11, 1918. The day when hostilities ended on the Western Front of World War I and the day that ultimately gave birth to our Veterans Day Observances. Originally the day set aside to officially honor our fallen military heroes, it has become the time to not only honor their sacrifice, but to recognize all those who served and all who continue to serve.

Viewpoints: "Who did you vote for to be President? Why?”

Voters share who they voted for and why they voted for their candidates.

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Dogtopia Comes to Springfield

New facility welcomes first guests.

The grand opening celebration of Dogtopia in Springfield on Saturday, Nov. 3, had barely begun before a steady stream of party poochers were taking over the spacious lobby and accompanying their humans on staff-guided tours of the new facility.

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Voter Turnout Strong in Herndon

The early morning activity at the polls was generally more than cordial, with something of a block party atmosphere.

6:01 a.m.—29 degrees Fahrenheit. There is just a hint of sunrise brightening the darkness, but there are already some 50 people forming a line in the parking lot of Herndon Elementary School on Dranesville Road.

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Town Hall Meeting Focuses on Parkway

Fairfax County Parkway the subject at well-attended meeting.

In conjunction with the Springfield District Council, Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity (R) hosted a panel of local and state transportation authorities for a Town Hall Meeting, held at the James W. Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax.

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