Community News: Veterans and Military Families Commission

Community News: Veterans and Military Families Commission

FCPS welcomes all families of students, including the 14,500 students connected to the military

FCPS welcomes all families of students, including the 14,500 students connected to the military

 On May 31, Fairfax County's Board of Supervisors introduced its newly established Veterans and Military Families Commission. According to the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services, the commission will “identify the unique issues and challenges faced by Fairfax County veterans, active duty service members, military retirees, and their families to connect them with services and supports, address gaps in services and opportunities, improve access to service systems, and enhance the institutional structures across the continuum of care for the military community.”

Christopher Pulley, Neighborhood and Community Service's Veterans Coordinator, and Air Force veteran, said, "There are so many issues affecting today's veterans." Among them affordable housing, food insecurity, affordable childcare, employment, mental health, and medical treatment."

Fort Belvoir is Fairfax County’s largest employer. It is home to more than 45,000 active-duty military members, selected reserve members, and an estimated 65,000 veterans. More than 14,500 students in Fairfax County Public Schools are connected to the military, and many Fairfax County schools have been recognized by the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children as 2023 Purple Star Schools. The designation was awarded to 18 FCPS military-friendly schools in 2023 that demonstrated their commitment to meeting the needs of military-connected students and their families, according to FCPS.

On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Supervisors named five commission-at-large board members: Robert Magielnicki, Michael S. Donovan, Angela Howard, Penny Gross, and Michael Halligan. The board has nominated and will confirm 13 more members, representing FCPS, George Mason University, and area military organizations, among others. 

For additional resources, visit the Fairfax County Veterans page and the Veterans and Military Families Commission website.

Could shifts in FCPS district boundaries alter the makeup of student populations in given schools create more inclusive, equitable educational environment? Could disparities in school demographics and resources between neighboring schools become points of contention?

Schools: Community News at a Glance

Where Might the School Bus Take Your Child? 

FCPS examines 38-year-old boundary policies across the distinct.

On Tuesday, June 18, the Fairfax County School Board's Governance Committee will discuss and potentially act upon the proposal to amend Policy 8130 to change school  boundaries. See School Board Policy 8130 Draft 5/15/2024 and School Board Policy 8130 Draft 5/16/2024. In an email from School Board member Robyn Lady (Dranesville) concerning “Follow up from the 5/20/24 Governance Committee meeting,” she wrote, “I wanted to reach out and share details with you regarding my stance on the ongoing work around the Policy 8130 review by the Governance Committee.” 

In her letter, Lady says that when she joined the board, she had yet to learn how much money Fairfax County spent on transportation. After discovering that it spends nearly $200 million annually on transportation, Lady scrutinized the division's boundary-drawing process more closely. “Given the overcrowding we have in myriad places across the division, I fully support the Governance Committee doing a holistic review of the countywide boundary,” writes Lady. She noted that policy has not changed in 38 years.

As for the process, Lady explains that if the policy makes it out of the Governance Committee, the school board will schedule a boundary policy work session, followed by a school board vote at a regular meeting. If the board approves the boundary policy, the next step would be operationalizing the new policy, which could impact the school boundaries throughout the division.

“Since the current draft will require FCPS to do a holistic review every five years, I cannot support (the) phasing of students beyond two years. While many of my colleagues hold their thoughts and opinions close to the vest, I believe in transparency and letting my constituents know what I am thinking,” Lady writes.

Lady adds that FCPS developed a webpage, School Board Boundary Policy Review InformationOne can find the latest information on why the boundary policy review may be linked to “better student achievement through instructional quality, budget optimization, and enhanced student well-being.”

Lady attached two documents: Best Practice Review Draft Boundary Policy 8130 (School Board Governance Committee Meeting March 12, 2024) and School Board Policy 8130 Draft 5/16/2024 with feedback requests, which, if approved, would supersede Policy 8130.7.

In a special bulletin for its members, the Great Falls Citizens Association president, John Halacy, wrote, “In the interest of transparency, GFCA is sharing the communication from Representative Lady, and I am encouraging our members to bring their concerns over the potential impact of school redistricting to the membership meeting on June 11 at 7 p.m. at the Great Falls Grange.”

Halacy added that he understood boundary policy "is a topic of critical importance to the GFCA membership and to community residents, especially those with school-age children. … Our School Boundary Task Force that has been examining this issue has sought data from the School Board staff on the criteria that would be used within its Policy 8130 to implement boundary changes. That data request is still open, and the Task Force has been directed to another source for the data.”

According to GFCA, unless otherwise noted, all meetings/events are on the Zoom platform and open to the public. Email for further information on GFCA Meetings and Events.

 Celebrating National Trails Day

U.S. Congressman Gerry Connolly joined the Fairfax County Park Authority to celebrate National Trails Day and the 10th anniversary of renaming the Cross County Trail to the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail. “This 41-mile trail is a true gem in our county, and its completion was one of my proudest moments in office,” Connolly said on Instagram.

GFCA 2024 election will be held at the Grange on June 11.

 GFCA Election; Opposition to Casino.

On June 11, 2024, The Great Falls Citizens Association will hold its annual election at the Great Falls Grange, 9818 Georgetown Pike. Voting will start at 6:30 p.m. There were no candidates nominated on May 21. The GFCA board-approved slate candidates are: President - John Halacy; Vice President - Dave Conover; Secretary - Jennifer Falcone; Director - Candice Burt; Director - Winnie Frost; Director - Jerry Peters; and Director - Ed Phillips. 

The GFCA Executive Board comprises five officers and 12 directors with staggered terms. Board members whose terms expire in 2025 are Henry Lippincott, Treasurer; Margaret Everett, Director; Dennis Huber, Director; Lisa Schlecht, Director; and Karen Washburn, Director. 

A brief presentation will be at 7 p.m. to update members on several highlights, including the ongoing opposition to the proposed casino.

Congrats to Langley High School Class of 2024

Fairfax County Public Schools held the Langley High School Class of 2024 graduation at DAR Constitution Hall on Monday, June 3. Catherine Burns and Ryan Dadoo, Class of 2024 officers, presented the student address. “Go, leaving a positive mark on the world,” Burns said. The recipient of this year’s Principal’s Award is Annabelle Bozarth.

The Connection welcomes any graduation photos that families can send in. Email to subject line GRADUATION with school name. Please identify people in the photo, date and school.

Here are graduation dates and venues for other county schools. 

Annandale High School, Monday, June 3, 9:30 a.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Bryant High School & AIM, Wednesday, June 5, 4 p.m., Bryant High School

Cedar Lane School, Friday, May 31, 4 p.m., Cedar Lane School

Centreville High School, Wednesday, June 5, 9:30 a.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Chantilly High School, Friday, June 7, 9:30 a.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Davis Center, Friday, June 7, 10 a.m., Marshall High School

Edison High School, Wednesday, June 5, 7:30 p.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Fairfax County Adult High School, Thursday, June 6, 5 p.m., Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

Fairfax High School, Tuesday, June 4, 9 a.m., Fairfax High School

Falls Church High School, Friday, June 7, 2 p.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Hayfield Secondary School, Monday, June 10, 9:30 a.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Herndon High School, Wednesday, June 5, 2 p.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Interagency Schools, Thursday, June 6, 3:30 p.m., Woodson High School

Justice High School,  Thursday, June 6, 7:30 p.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Key Center, Thursday, May 30, 12:30 p.m., Key Center

Kilmer Center, Friday, June 7, 10:30 a.m., Kilmer Center

Lake Braddock Secondary School, Tuesday, June 4, 2 p.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Langley High School, Monday, June 3 at 2:30 p.m. at DAR Constitution Hall

Lewis High School, Monday, June 3, 7:30 p.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Madison High School, Tuesday, June 4 at 10 a.m. at DAR Constitution Hall

Marshall High School, Monday, June 3 at 10 a.m. at DAR Constitution Hall

McLean High School, Tuesday, June 4 at 2:30 p.m. at DAR Constitution Hall

Mount Vernon High School, Tuesday, June 4, 9:30 a.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Mountain View High School & AIM, Monday, June 3, 5 p.m., Centreville High School

Oakton High School, Tuesday, June 11, 9:30 a.m., Eagle Bank Arena

Pulley Center, Friday, May 31, 10:30 a.m., West Potomac High School

Quander Road School, Thursday, May 30, 3:30 p.m., Quander Road School

Robinson Secondary School, Monday, June 3 at 2 p.m. at Eagle Bank Arena

South County High School, Monday, June 10 at 2 p.m. at Eagle Bank Arena

South Lakes High School, Friday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Bank Arena

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Saturday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Bank Arena

West Potomac High School, Tuesday, June 11 at 2 p.m. at Eagle Bank Arena

West Springfield High School, Thursday, June 6 at 9:30 a.m. at Eagle Bank Arena

Westfield High School, Tuesday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Bank Arena

Woodson High School, Thursday, June 6 at 2 p.m. at Eagle Bank Arena

Teen from School in McLean Works to Improve Drinking Water

The Potomac River, which supplies drinking water to the 5.1 million people, has become increasingly polluted. MITRE is working to develop a deployable sensor that will detect and remediate PFAS from natural waterways.

Fiona Xu, a senior at BASIS Independent McLean, is conducting her senior year school project through her internship at The MITRE Corporation, McLean Campus.

She is conducting a literature review of the use of sensor technology to clean up PFAS contamination and improve water quality in rivers and the potential applicability of electrochemical sensors with other types to conclude on the best potential practice of applying sensors to the Potomac. Her results will help MITRE develop sensors that can improve the water quality for the region.

<1b>— Mercia Hobson

Reston: Community News at a Glance

View the most recent ideas and provide comments via a survey offered by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) research team. Based on comments from last November's workshop, the survey presents the three options elicited during a public meeting held on May 23, 2024. They include major improvements like lane reductions, larger walkways, landscaped buffers, specialized bike lanes, and roundabouts. Details and links here: View and complete the survey at

World Peace: Community News at a Glance

Buddhists Walk For World Peace

What distance would you be willing to walk in pursuing global peace? That might be the perfect question for six Buddhist monks from the Thai Buddhist Vajiradhammapadip Temple in New York. The renowned group began their walk from Key West on March 31, intending to arrive at Niagara Falls on June 30, covering almost 1,500 miles with the noble aim of promoting world peace.

Vienna was one of the destinations the monks chose to visit during their recent journey heading toward Washington, D.C. They stopped at the Vienna Community Center, where the locals embraced them, offering refreshments, food, water, and gifts. Buddhist monks rely on the lay community to provide the material things they need to survive. They demonstrate that peace is possible through the simple acts of kindness they receive from strangers along their journey. On Facebook, the Friends of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail reported that the monks have also traveled eastward on the W&OD Trail. Follow the monks on their Facebook page,, with over 11,000 others.

Vienna & Oakton: Community News at a Glance

Historical Marker unveiled for Oakton civil rights activist Lillian Blackwell 

First of Six Historical Markers Honoring Black/African American Experience

 Over the weekend, Fairfax County's History Commission members unveiled the first of six new historical markers, each shedding light on an Black/African American community event, person, or site of historical significance, with one marker per magisterial district. Located in the Providence District, the marker honors civil rights activist Lillian Blackwell (1911–1963). Blackwell successfully sued to ban segregation in public schools, as well as segregated seating in movie theaters, and the denial of admission based on race. 

Fairfax County School Board Chair Karl Frisch, who attended the unveiling, reported that students researched and submitted proposals for the historical maker program launched in 2022. A panel chose 14 finalists from 53 submitted proposals, and the History Commission chose the six markers for installation. Three South County High School students, Meron Fikru, Delano Telford, and Maddie Haag, nominated U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, who also attended the event, said on Facebook that they celebrated a "heroic woman who fought for civil rights here in Fairfax County. … Lillian Blackwell cared passionately about equity and access for all, and I'm proud that we have recognized her lasting contributions to our schools and county," he wrote. Blackwell was a Fairfax County member of the Human Relations Council, The Friends of the Library, NAACP membership chairman, founding member of the National Council of Negro Women, Black Women United for Action, and Fair Housing.

<1b> — Mercia Hobson

New Principals for Mount Vernon HS and Belle View ES

Mount Vernon representative on the School Board, announced in The Dunne Dispatch on May 29 two new principals to his magisterial district, (left) Katie Plunkit, Belle View ES, and (right) Carl Dimmick, Mount Vernon High School. “Both bring extensive experience and proven leadership as school administrators. I am excited to work with them to ensure all of our students receive a world-class education.”

 W&OD’s 50th Trail Anniversary Celebrations Continue into September

On Sept. 7, NOVA Parks’(Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) W&OD Trail will turn 50 years old, but until then, the park continues to mark its anniversary with activities. Next on NOVA Parks’ list is that folks can cheer on its W&OD-themed float at the City of Fairfax Independence Day Parade, on July 4, 10 a.m.–noon in downtown Fairfax.

Safety remains a primary concern with 70 road intersections along the W&OD Trail. Lately, an increasing number of intersections have been "grade separated," with vehicles and trail users on different levels. Most recently, the new $12 million fly-over Wiehle Avenue bridge in Reston is poised so that bikes and pedestrians who travel on the W&OD Trail don't have to mix with vehicles. NOVA Park’s vision for the trail is to continue with enhancements to create dual parallel trails, one for pedestrians and one for cyclists. The first segment of dual trails opened in Falls Church and dual trails will be added to other urban areas along the trail. Visit for upcoming events and activities.

 Once used primarily for weekend recreation, the W&OD Trail now serves over 2 million people annually as a carbon-free commute.